Title: “How 2 Talk 2 Aliens”
Date: March 19, 2009
Conference: “Social Media Jungle: New York City” #smjnyc
Recorded By: Bill Cammack
Roxanne Darling, Jane Quigley, Kristen Crusius, Laura Fitton, Christine Cavalier, Kathryn Jones & Annie Boccio
April 26, 2008
“Personal Branding” has been hotly debated recently in my circles. “Do I have a personal brand?” “Does personal branding exist?” “Am I a brand or a person?”
Part of the reason this is discussed so often is that people tend to define a personal brand in terms that don’t mean anything. By using terms for PEOPLE that are used to categorize COMPANIES, people are turned off to the concept or fail to understand the true meaning of the term.
Does personal branding exist? Yes. Do *YOU* have one? Maybe.
Basically, a “personal brand” is what people EXPECT when you come to mind. Period. Some people have this and some people don’t.
A personal brand is achieved through ACTIONS which people come to associate with your name or face. If you never DO anything that people perceive, you do not have a personal brand, IMO. This is because your name doesn’t “ring bells” and doesn’t alter anyone’s perception of a situation when they find out that you’re involved. This does NOT mean that you aren’t important… It merely means people don’t KNOW who you are and/or what you do.
For instance, if you google Emmy Award Editor I’m #1. Actually, I’m #1 AND #2, because the youtube version of the collab I did with Indy Mogul is in the second slot, with 11,240 views. People hit my resume page or my “about” page every single day, so lots of people have associated the name Bill Cammack with quality videotape editorial. This is what they EXPECT when they find out I worked on a project… Quality.
So what about Ian Jenkins?
That’s Ian in the white FLD shirt and headphones. Also pictured are a couple of other NNN friends of mine, J-Rad & Alan Kaufman.
Now… If I had a project I wanted to get done, Ian Jenkins would be one of the top guys I’d want working with me. That’s because I happen to know his work ethic and the skill and dedication he brings to the table. I know this because I’ve spoken to him, I’ve seen his work and I know people that work WITH him. Does he broadcast this himself? No. Not that I know of. Is he crafting a personal brand? Not that I know of. He’s doing what he does. IS “Ian Jenkins” a brand? HELL YES! 😀 That’s because when *I* hear his name, I EXPECT certain things from a project Ian worked on.
So who’s the better editor? Bill Cammack or Ian Jenkins?…. Unfortunately, editing is highly subjective. The only thing that matters is whether the job gets done WELL and ON TIME. So I say NEITHER of us is better as a editor. My personal brand is more recognized, because I spend hours every day working on it and Ian doesn’t give a damn. 🙂 Ian meets deadlines every. single. day. while I play SOCOM. I’m freelance, so I’ve worked for a ton of shows, companies and people for advertising, corporate and broadcast productions. Ian’s a staffer, so he works on one show, and it runs on the internet, but he probably produces 15 videos for every one that I output. Ian shoots video as well. So do I, but I’d rather edit, and Ian’s probably better at shooting, because he does it infinitely more than I do.
My point is… You can’t tell JACK from how well someone uses the internet to publicize themselves. I’m not going to tell you to google Video Editor Resume (I’m #3) to figure out who’s GOOD or who can make it happen. That’s just a list of people that know how to use tags, or even worse, actually PAID PEOPLE to get them better rankings on google. :/ Doesn’t mean they’re any good at what they do AT ALL. Doesn’t mean their name “rings bells” IRL. What matters is what people know or perceive about you, which IS your personal brand, whether you LIKE that or not and whether you EMBRACE that or not.
Regardless of whether you brand YOURSELF, people are going to brand YOU. I started telling people to Google “Bill” (I’m currently #9 of 541,000,000 pages for “Bill”) because I don’t carry business cards, and it’s really the easiest way for people to get in touch with me. Next thing I know, hahaha this is how I’m being introduced to people at parties. 🙂 This wasn’t MY idea, but people get a kick out of that and it spreads from person to person.
Actually… And I don’t know whether to laugh or cry about this… 😀 Neither my professional accomplishments nor my stellar search engine rankings (e.g. women dating nyc #3) are what most people that I meet “know me for”. It’s always “….. YOU’RE that guy that’s in all those pictures with all those women! :D”.
So, BESIDES not overshadowing your BUSINESS brand with your SOCIAL brand, 🙂 the moral of our story is… Do you have a personal brand? Maybe. It depends first of all on whether you actually DO ANYTHING, and second on whether you’re letting people KNOW that you do these things or whether other people are publicizing you. If people think differently of something because you’re involved with it, that’s your PERSONAL BRAND at work. This does NOT only have to do with business either. We’ll get into that another time. You might have a personal brand when it comes to dating. The fact that you can be trusted in general and your word actually MEANS SOMETHING is potentially part of your personal brand.
There’s also NEGATIVE personal branding, such as when a client refuses to pay you for several months for work you did for them and you’re getting ready to blast their name and company all over the WORLD WIDE WEB for not living up to their agreements EVERY SINGLE DAY until you get satisfaction, which would amount to receiving PAYMENT IN FULL for services rendered. But that’s a story for another day. 😀
So that’s what I think about personal branding. If you’re in the “public” eye (as ‘public’ as our small Echo Chamber gets) brand yourself or other people will do it for you. Whatever opinions come to mind when people hear your name or see your face, that’s YOUR brand. Even if NO opinions come to people’s minds or they’ve never heard of you, that doesn’t matter as long as YOU know what you’re bringing to the table. “The Fame Game” isn’t for everybody. Not everybody CAN do it, not everybody SHOULD do it and not everybody does it WELL.
So.. Does ‘Personal Branding’ exist, or am I talking about vaporware? 😀
What do you think?
So I’m chatting with Christine “PurpleCar” Cavalier the other day, and my current status as the #7 Google entry for “Bill” out of 21,500,000 English pages comes up. (I’m actually #5, because both Gates & Clinton have multiple entries ahead of me… but who’s counting? :D)
So Christine asks me “How did you do that?”, and the interesting thing was that I didn’t have an answer for her. 🙂
I never had a goal of having a high Google ranking for the name “Bill”. I started out branding ReelSolid.TV and then switched to branding BillCammack and “Bill Cammack”.
I had no interest in branding “Bill” because it’s so generic. Not only is it a name, but people have to PAY THEIR BILLS, there’s the BILL OF RIGHTS, ducks have bills, etc… Buffalo Bills, not to mention, a ton of famous Bills… Cosby, Maher, Nye The Science Guy… I’m not even the first Bill on the videoblogging scene. Bill Streeter was there way before I was.
So I decided to think about it… Not that *I* did anything, but how did I end up with such a high ranking? Technically, I can’t say, because as Liz Burr points out, Google’s all about math. However, I do have two tips for people that aspire to some sort of distinction either on the internet or IRL….
1) Be Original
One of the reasons my posts get a lot of play is that they’re original. I made them up. I’m “kicking them off the top”. It’s FRESH information. I don’t write anything ahead of time. I’m thinking about something, I ‘feel’ it, then I go for it.
I’m not reading other people’s ideas, then regurgitating them. I’m not making people aware of what SOMEBODY ELSE said or thought. I might use other people’s material as a foundation for what MY point is, like in Women’s Guide to NYC Dating, but I make a CLEAR distinction between what someone else posted and what’s coming directly from me. If all you’re doing is regurgitating ideas you heard or read on the net, you’re a librarian…. a curator. Why would anyone go to your site for FRESH information when you offer ZERO added value? That’s what http://del.icio.us/ and StumbleUpon are for. The only reason they would visit your site is for YOUR SPECIFIC FLAVOR about things. If you’re not adding any, you don’t get play past people’s first encounter with you.
Another benefit of originality is that people pass your information around, because they’ve never seen it before, ANYWHERE! How many places can you go to see celebrity gossip? A million, plus. So if you want to separate yourself from the pack, make a site like Stephanie Frasco’s whatcelebswear.com or Marissa Nystrom’s celebzaredum.tumblr.com. You don’t go there because there are celebrity shots there… You go there because you want to know what Steph or Marissa HAVE TO SAY about celebs, what they do and what they wear = Added Value, due to their originality.
The other benefit to being original is that when conversations come up IRL about stuff you posted to the net, you actually have valid defensible positions. 🙂 When you’re talking about other people’s stuff, your knowledge on the topic only goes so far as what you’ve READ… Not what you learned or experienced yourself. This is what causes you to LOSE PROPS instead of gaining them, because when people find out that you’re just a librarian/curator for other people’s thoughts and concepts, your conversational value plummets.
2) Be Useful
It’s great to have your own style, and people will definitely check out your blog (show, whatever) just because you’re a stylish person… especially if your style is original for some reason… but you also want to present something USEFUL to your audience. That might be technical information, entertainment or your own style of humor, even if it’s mostly funny TO YOU and makes other people cringe because of the light it sheds on their own lives and relationships. 🙂
When you post useful information, the effect is that people are always interested in it. It’s not the same people… It’s just that as life occurs, the same exact thing happens to different people at different times. In turn, they search google for insight on what just happened to them and end up at your site, absorbing the useful information you posted a year and a half ago. 🙂
Nothing educational to say?… Make up and play an interesting character or talk about what your job is or the town you live in. Give people tips on how to do photography or run an internet music show or work behind the scenes in the film industry. Show people how television shows are made:
OTOH, you don’t want to be useful ‘for no reason’. Make sure the topics are things that you normally kick it about anyway and enjoy discussing or writing about. The people that are interested in the same things will seek your posts out on the internet, and without actually becoming “internet famous”, people will start to “tune in next week” to see what you’re doing or saying now.