As an (elder) millennial, I identify as someone who grew up during the “information age” of the Internet. As a result, I’m pretty comfortable with most digital technology. The internet, my smartphone, social media–these are all part of my everyday existence (and not just because of my job).
I’ve had a “web presence” for as long as I remember, and I would have to concentrate hard to remember a time before I had my very own presence on the web. Have I always been conscientious about what I post on social media? Eh, no. Is my old LiveJournal profile still out there somewhere in all of its teenage-angst glory? Yep, it is.
The sum of everything that exists on the web associated with me, and I mean everything that’s out there, this is my personal brand. It’s what is visible to anyone who might Google my name. And the same goes for anyone who may Google you, too!
Your entire digital footprint can be boiled down to three types of content on the Internet:
- Owned Media – Your own website or blog, your YouTube Channel, or even your Facebook page (you don’t technically own social media channels but you do control the content and don’t pay for using them) are all media that you control and that can be leveraged by you because you are in control of what people see.
- Earned Media – When customers, clients, and even family and friends share your content. When word of mouth is spread or mentions about you in real life or online happen. This is earned because it is voluntarily given by others and happens in environments beyond your actual control.
- Paid Media – Paying for sponsorships or ads on third-party sites that you do not control.
If you want everything that exists on the web to be clear in terms of who you are and what you do, it’s important to be proactive and intentional going forward. You’ll have to become your own “clean-up crew,” so to speak, in order to disseminate the content that make up all three types of online media mentioned above.
Your personal brand is the culmination of what the world says or feels about you after they encounter (and even research) you online. A personal brand that’s polished, professional, and indicative of your career or our expertise is a winning combination for establishing and promoting yourself and your business.
A condensed version of this article appeared in the October 2019 issues of Townelaker and Around Woodstock magazine.