My position towards the middle of 2009 was that I had several personal brands, none of which are equal in popularity based on number of hits to my sites and the frequency that each brand would come up in IRL conversations. At the time, I wasn’t sure why, for instance, my “socializing” brand was so much stronger than my “video editing” brand. Pretty much the LAST thing I started advertising about myself, chronologically, became what I was most known for by people I had never met before.
People love to toss around the term “Organic” these days when it comes to Social Media. I checked out about eight different articles and received about eight different ideas of what “Organic Marketing” or “Organic Social Media” or “Organic Branding” is. According to Webster’s, the closest definition of “Organic” that might possibly be relevant to any of this is “Developing in the manner of a living plant or animal”. This is why I decided to call this particular article:
Back in the day, when I was trying to decide what I was going to blog about, I asked Penelope Trunk (far right in the pic) for her opinion and she told me something pivotally important, which was essentially “Blog about what you WANT to blog about and not about what you think is going to be popular or lucrative”.
This turned out to be INCREDIBLY GOOD ADVICE!!! 😀 and I kept it in mind as I started writing about things I THOUGHT I was interested in, but it turned out that I wasn’t. For instance, I was going to do a blog about my favorite television shows, like 24, Prison Break, eventually Sons Of Anarchy and now Jersey Shore, but paying attention to how I *FELT* about writing a blog about that, I realized I completely wasn’t interested enough to make a blog about that topic sustainable.
I was also interested in video on the internet and compression and which hosts to use, etc, but eventually I learned enough about that and talking about that became a chore as well. What never became a chore and probably never will is my dating blog. 😀 I’ve written hundreds of posts between 2006 and 2010, have about six halfway-written posts waiting to be finished & published, started compiling my first of several eBooks and I have a bunch of concepts that I’ve been thinking about that I didn’t bother to type out yet. It’s virtually an endless stream of content.
True to what Penelope told me, the only thing that’s made my blog sustainable is that it NATURALLY occurs to me to think about these topics, write about them and discuss them with my readers. That, according to Webster’s definition, is what I feel “Organic Branding” actually is. I think it’s whatever you’re naturally compelled to express. I think it’s what people get if they read between your lines. It’s what you don’t necessarily mean to say, but you say it anyway.. without actually saying it. 😀
This is how my personal brand hierarchy got built without my understanding what I was building. I thought that by putting links in my sidebar (which aren’t there anymore) to my resume that people who came to my site looking for other stuff would look at it and realize what I do business-wise. Six months into hanging out with friends IRL on a regular basis, I was hearing “I didn’t know you were a video editor! :O”. That’s because people don’t come to my site looking for information about ME. They come here looking for whatever the topic was that they clicked through on from google or Facebook or Tumblr or Twitter or their feed reader or wherever I happened to have distributed my content.
As I turned my focus to “What am I broadcasting?”, that’s where my concept of Organic Branding became clear to me. Whatever it was that I *THOUGHT* I was expressing, all people were getting is that I like women and I like alcoholic beverages. 😀 I don’t talk about video editing when I’m hanging out, except with Flo, because she’s an editor also and we often have parallel experiences and I get a lot out of “Talking Shop” with her. Since I’m a freelancer and I don’t work with random people, I’m not inclined to bring up video editing at parties because I don’t go there to network, I go there to socialize.
So, similar to how my dating blog rose to the top of my content output, the brand that I was organically expressing rose to the top as well. I didn’t set out to become a “Connector”, but I am. I DID set out to advertise myself as a video editor, but I stopped. I didn’t set out to become a dating blogger or author, but that’s what’s happening. I think that if more focused more on what they were REALLY interested in, they’d be happier, way more prolific and way more prominent within their chosen topic.
Politickin’, Beggin’ & Shillin’
I’ve personally been affected by other people’s Organic Branding. There are certain things you can count on people for, all the time. There are topics that they just LOVE and can’t get enough of.
Some people like my friends Charles & Dan LOOOOOOVE politics. Politics, Politics, Politics, all day and all night. Doesn’t matter WHERE the politics are going on.. Foreign countries… Alabama… Doesn’t matter.. As long as there’s something to debate, they’re both IN THERE for hours and hours and hours with gleeful smiles on their faces because they’re talking about POLITICS!!! 😀
Other people have become shills for their companies. They’ve handed over every vehicle they own for personal expression to try to get people to buy something from their current employer. Their videos are about business. Their Twitter and Facebook posts are about business. They respond to status updates that could possibly get them more business. Their Organic Branding is “I don’t really care about you OR myself.. I just want to bring in business so I can keep my job as Social Media Director or whatever and get some money”.
I’m not going to knock their hustle, but let’s see what they have to talk about when they stop working for that company. O_o I’ll bet you never hear another PEEP about whatever products or services they were hawking to you all day and all night as soon as they’re no longer getting PAID to tell you about them.
Then you have the people that every time they open their mouths, you have to hear about their favorite social cause or how they got out their CSI kit and searched every nook and cranny of the internet for their daily post about racism or sexism or whatever kind of ism rules their minds and lives. It’s like watching a television channel that only shows commercials.
Eventually, in all the cases I mentioned, you absorb that individual’s Organic Brand and you begin to naturally filter them based on what you feel like or don’t feel like hearing about at that particular time. If the company shill sends out an email or posts somewhere that they’re throwing a party, you never get that communication because you weren’t in the mood for hearing about their business that day and skipped right over their media, as usual, if you haven’t blocked their updates already with social media site privacy controls.
HA!!! I almost forgot! 😀 .. When someone declares themselves a Social Media Expert and then their website *SUCKS*, they’re organically communicating that they’re a fraud and just trying to get paid before people figure out they don’t know what they’re talking about. When people try to tell you that you should utilize live streaming, for instance, and every time THEY try to do it for themselves there are glaring technical difficulties, you’re absorbing the fact that they’re Snake Oil Salesmen.
I overheard a conversation this guy was having while I was waiting at a restaurant for a homegirl of mine to arrive for lunch. The guy’s explaining WHY the person on the other end of the phone should spend $600 to get a website done, and amongst the incentives, this guy says “OH… YOU’LL *DEFINITELY* GET MORE TRAFFIC!”. I minded my own business, but I wanted to yell at him “YOU ******* LIAR! GETTING A WEBSITE CREATED DOESN’T *GUARANTEE* YOU MORE TRAFFIC!!!”. That’s how a lot of people are living these days, tryin’na jump on the Social Media bandwagon and bilk people out of money while it’s still a hot term.
Pepsi went out like suckers a few months ago with their “Amp up before you score” iPhone app. 😀
I mean, really… I’ve been doing a dating blog for around four years where I call chicks “chicks” every single week and even *I* would have been the first one to raise my hand and go “This isn’t going to go over well with the female population”.
Ahhh to be a fly on the wall at the meetings where some BRAINIAC came up with this and the drones sat there and didn’t dare to say how bad an idea this was. Does Pepsi even EMPLOY women? 😀 Were none of them ASKED for their opinions about this app before it went into development, GOT developed, was TESTED and finally RELEASED?
So.. Yes.. When I was thinking about this months ago, I was like “How did this happen?” Now, it’s clear to me that what people read between the lines is just as important as the lines themselves, if not even more so. While the lines deviate slightly from each other, what you’re organically communicating is consistently building people’s perceptions of you in pretty much the same direction.
How’s that workin’ for ya?
I had briefly entertained the concept of “turning my branding around” at the time, but I was too busy and disinterested to think about it. At this point, I realize that changing my branding style or focus would be the same mistake as forcing a television blog at the expense of cultivating my dating blog.
Whatever it is that we enjoy (or at least focus or HARP on, if it’s not something enjoyable) is going to have an ever-present influence over our content creation. I don’t have any problems getting girls, so it’s not natural for me to blog about problems getting girls. I don’t live in Arkansas, so it’s not natural for me to blog about life in Arkansas.
I drink alcoholic beverages and I hang out with my friends. If I didn’t tell you that, you’d see my drinks and my friends in the pictures I post to the internet. Most of the stories I have are from parties or bars, so friends and drinks are going to be mentioned in my blog posts. If I check in on Foursquare or @reply people on Twitter, it’s going to be clear that I was hanging out.. again.. as usual.
Is “I like to enjoy myself” a good Personal or Organic Brand to have? For me, it is. I have great conversations with people that read my blog when I run into them IRL. There are lots of people that told me they enjoyed the Harry Potter video. There are lots of people that recognize me from the over 1,000 pictures I’ve posted from my hangouts over the last few years. I would MUCH RATHER have people chat with me about stuff like that than business, video editing, compression, data rates & monetization. *YAWN*
So the questions for *YOU*, I suppose.. are “What are you branding about yourself without meaning to?” and “How’s that workin’ for ya?”. If you don’t know what you’re projecting or you know what it is and it’s not in line with your goals for 2010, it might be time to rethink your strategies and take your brand in a totally new direction.