“Pay no attention to that (wo)man behind the curtain.”  - The Wizard, The Wizard of Oz

Sometimes it’s nice to not participate in the conversation.  Sometimes it’s nice to just sit back and listen.  I did a little eavesdropping on a really fascinating conversation yesterday among some of the top social media specialists about the hot topic of personal branding.  Geoff Livingston of Buzz Bin, Amber Naslund, Frank Martin, Mitch Joel and several other folks chimed in.  

Want the Reader’s Digest version? I’ll provide it courtesy the Barenaked Ladies: 

“I’m all about value.”

A “personal brand” means diddly squat if you don’t provide value.  

Or I supposed we could go with Bruce Springsteen:

“57 Channels (and Nothin’ On)”

If there’s nothing to back it up in terms of product or service, then all the communication in the world is just so much spin… and the world doesn’t need more of that.  

Speaking of what the world needs, who knew Brian Clark was a closet (or maybe that’s phone booth, in this case) Clark Kent?  

Yesterday’s post about changing the world with social media?  Brilliant.  As Brian’s gotten increasingly busy running Teaching Sells, Lateral Action, and possibly the government of some small Caribbean island he’s no doubt now got the money to buy, he’s done a great job of having uber-talented guest authors fill in on Copyblogger, but posts like this remind me of why I started reading it in the first place. 

Read it.  Do it now.  If you’ve been wondering what the heck all these crazy social media folks are so excited about, this is it.  This is why I want to do this stuff.  It’s what keeps me going when I hear folks getting all excited because HOLY COW WE’VE FOUND A WAY TO SPAM FOLKS FOR CASH ON TWITTER!  

(To be fair, don’t think I didn’t consider it.  According to Magpie’s calculations, my Twitter ramblings could earn enough to support my rather alarming chai latte habit.  Of course, it would also completely alienate me from the 600 or so folks I’ve been working my hiney off to get the privilege of communicating with, but hey… chai lattes, people.  Gotta keep them coming.)

But back to the idea of Brian Clark in tights… Two other brief, rambling thoughts connected to the idea of building a personal brand.  

“I’m so much cooler online.”  - Brad Paisley, Online

In social media, your personal brand can be a sort of secret identity.  (I’m not saying that’s all it is, I’m just saying that from the inside of it, it can function that way.)  As social media strategists and consultants, we’re being asked to be our clients’ and/or our company’s trusty guide through scary and unfamiliar territory.  

I very much took to heart the comments some very smart folks made last week refuting the idea that there can even BE social media experts.  But the folks who are relying on us need to know that we have some level of expertise.  Mistakes are to be expected–this is still mostly uncharted territory.  But confidence is key.  

Ironically, a lot of folks in social media are introverts, who have discovered a new level of comfort relating to and communicating with people on the social web.  I’m speaking from personal experience, (clearly, Jason has never been an introvert).  

For a while it seemed like there were two of me: the smart, confident, talky person I was online, and the “real” me I’d always been offline.  If I hadn’t learned to integrate the social skills and confidence I gained online into my “real world” identity, I might have been able to provide some valuable advice to clients, but fear that they’d discover “the real me” would have crippled my effectiveness.  

I would warn anybody new to all this, who is having a similar experience, to be very wary of mentally siloing your life into “my social media self” and “my real self.”  Social media is a set of tools, not a magical, super-power imbuing costume.  The tools don’t replace the need to relate to folks in real life.  They can and should help you gain confidence in your ability to do so.

“My worlds are colliding, Jerry!”  George Costanza, Seinfeld 

Which brings me to my last tangent: I’m going to be getting the opportunity to do some of that real world socializing next week.  I’ll be attending my first Pubcon in Las Vegas on behalf of Doe-Anderson and Social Media Explorer.  In addition to getting to meet and talk with some of the folks I’ve so far only met online, I’m completely excited about getting to pick the brains of internet marketing geniuses in the sessions. (And I think that the “Is Social Media & Search a Love Story or a War Story” may cover similar ground as a previous post of mine.) 

If I’m not an “expert” I’m at least committed to always learning more about this work I love.  

So there you have it.  In addition to leaving you with the daunting mental image of Brian Clark in tights and Jason Alexander in tight jeans, I’ve managed to leave you with a lot of interesting links to follow, conversations to chime in on, and (if you’re going to Pubcon) an open invitation to Tweet me and meet up.  

Have a great Friday, and a great weekend everybody.

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About Kat French

Kat French

Kat French is the Digital Operations Manager at CafePress. An exceptional writer both on the web and in other genres, Kat combines creativity with an agile, get-it-done attitude across a broad range of experience in community management, SEO/PPC, social media strategy and program management. She has worked with national brands like Maker's Mark, Daytona Beach Tourism, Optima Batteries and more.

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Comments & Reactions

Comments Policy

Comments on Social Media Explorer are open to anyone. However, I will remove any comment that is disrespectful and not in the spirit of intelligent discourse. You are welcome to leave links to content relevant to the conversation, but I reserve the right to remove it if I don't see the relevancy. Be nice, have fun. Fair?

  • http://broadcasting-brain.com Mark Dykeman

    Hey Kat, thanks for linking out to The Mighty Introvert… I really need to write there again sometime. :)

    • KatFrench

      No problem! I almost linked to Broadcasting Brain, but I thought The Mighty Introvert was the more relevant link.

      What you really need to do is gather up several prominent social media introverts, and do basically a “Collective Thoughts” group blog type deal. :)

      Man, I'm just full of opinions this morning.

  • http://broadcasting-brain.com Mark Dykeman

    Hey Kat, thanks for linking out to The Mighty Introvert… I really need to write there again sometime. :)

  • http://broadcasting-brain.com Mark Dykeman

    Hey Kat, thanks for linking out to The Mighty Introvert… I really need to write there again sometime. :)

  • KatFrench

    No problem! I almost linked to Broadcasting Brain, but I thought The Mighty Introvert was the more relevant link.

    What you really need to do is gather up several prominent social media introverts, and do basically a “Collective Thoughts” group blog type deal. :)

    Man, I'm just full of opinions this morning.

  • KatFrench

    No problem! I almost linked to Broadcasting Brain, but I thought The Mighty Introvert was the more relevant link.

    What you really need to do is gather up several prominent social media introverts, and do basically a “Collective Thoughts” group blog type deal. :)

    Man, I'm just full of opinions this morning.

  • http://www.budgetpulse.com CraigK

    Nice rant, I enjoyed reading Geoff's post yesterday. I agree a lot of people hide behind social media tools and utilize them to act differently and put forward different web personalities than one might have in real life. But like you mentioned, should help in the real world of communication and human interaction.

    P.S. – I love how you used Seinfeld and Springsteen quotes. Two favs of mine, you can never go wrong with.

    Craig
    http://www.budgetpulse.com

    • KatFrench

      Thanks! When actual creative thought fails you, quote smart people! Or at least, wildly popular people!

      And there's a definite dark and scary side to the false fronts some individuals put forth on social media… but that's probably not a topic for this particular post.

  • http://www.budgetpulse.com CraigK

    Nice rant, I enjoyed reading Geoff's post yesterday. I agree a lot of people hide behind social media tools and utilize them to act differently and put forward different web personalities than one might have in real life. But like you mentioned, should help in the real world of communication and human interaction.

    P.S. – I love how you used Seinfeld and Springsteen quotes. Two favs of mine, you can never go wrong with.

    Craig
    http://www.budgetpulse.com

  • http://www.budgetpulse.com CraigK

    Nice rant, I enjoyed reading Geoff's post yesterday. I agree a lot of people hide behind social media tools and utilize them to act differently and put forward different web personalities than one might have in real life. But like you mentioned, should help in the real world of communication and human interaction.

    P.S. – I love how you used Seinfeld and Springsteen quotes. Two favs of mine, you can never go wrong with.

    Craig
    http://www.budgetpulse.com

  • KatFrench

    Thanks! When actual creative thought fails you, quote smart people! Or at least, wildly popular people!

    And there's a definite dark and scary side to the false fronts some individuals put forth on social media… but that's probably not a topic for this particular post.

  • KatFrench

    Thanks! When actual creative thought fails you, quote smart people! Or at least, wildly popular people!

    And there's a definite dark and scary side to the false fronts some individuals put forth on social media… but that's probably not a topic for this particular post.

  • http://chelpixie.com chelpixie

    I really enjoyed this post for obvious reasons but more than that you've provided plenty of content to look at in your point. Your take on Geoff's post is great and lighthearted. Great tone.

    (If you ever want to crash a BNL concert together, lemme know. :D)

    • KatFrench

      Absolutely! Caught them last time they were in town. They wrote an impromptu song dedicated to the portolet vendor for the concert. Even the portolet song sounded good. :)

  • http://chelpixie.com chelpixie

    I really enjoyed this post for obvious reasons but more than that you've provided plenty of content to look at in your point. Your take on Geoff's post is great and lighthearted. Great tone.

    (If you ever want to crash a BNL concert together, lemme know. :D)

  • http://chelpixie.com chelpixie

    I really enjoyed this post for obvious reasons but more than that you've provided plenty of content to look at in your point. Your take on Geoff's post is great and lighthearted. Great tone.

    (If you ever want to crash a BNL concert together, lemme know. :D)

  • http://altitudebranding.com Amber Naslund

    I knew I liked you, oh smart and savvy BNL fan. :) I really enjoyed your take on this. And I think many of us are still navigating our way through nebulous waters, but in the end, i'm thankful for anything that brings people together and lets us all see a bit more of each other. And as for experts, that's all relative anyway. Someone always knows more, but then it's my hope that I can help those that know less. :)

    Thanks for a fun read.

    • KatFrench

      Any guy who will don a green satin evening gown for others' entertainment pleasure is worth quoting, clearly.

      And “fun read” was mostly what I was shooting for with this post, so mission accomplished. :) Happy Friday!

  • http://altitudebranding.com Amber Naslund

    I knew I liked you, oh smart and savvy BNL fan. :) I really enjoyed your take on this. And I think many of us are still navigating our way through nebulous waters, but in the end, i'm thankful for anything that brings people together and lets us all see a bit more of each other. And as for experts, that's all relative anyway. Someone always knows more, but then it's my hope that I can help those that know less. :)

    Thanks for a fun read.

  • http://altitudebranding.com Amber Naslund

    I knew I liked you, oh smart and savvy BNL fan. :) I really enjoyed your take on this. And I think many of us are still navigating our way through nebulous waters, but in the end, i'm thankful for anything that brings people together and lets us all see a bit more of each other. And as for experts, that's all relative anyway. Someone always knows more, but then it's my hope that I can help those that know less. :)

    Thanks for a fun read.

  • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

    Didn't realize this was going to become a girl's party. Time to rethink the blog. Heh.

    • KatFrench

      Post some Manly Man stuff next week to make up for it. Something maybe like this. (Warning: Prolly NS for most workplaces).

      Then again, someone would probably just counter with something like this.

  • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

    Didn't realize this was going to become a girl's party. Time to rethink the blog. Heh.

  • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

    Didn't realize this was going to become a girl's party. Time to rethink the blog. Heh.

  • Pingback: Vibemetrix Daily Vibe - Financial Aid, Barenaked Ladies and Lance Armstrong | VibeMetrix Blog

  • KatFrench

    Absolutely! Caught them last time they were in town. They wrote an impromptu song dedicated to the portolet vendor for the concert. Even the portolet song sounded good. :)

  • KatFrench

    Absolutely! Caught them last time they were in town. They wrote an impromptu song dedicated to the portolet vendor for the concert. Even the portolet song sounded good. :)

  • KatFrench

    Any guy who will don a green satin evening gown for others' entertainment pleasure is worth quoting, clearly.

    And “fun read” was mostly what I was shooting for with this post, so mission accomplished. :) Happy Friday!

  • KatFrench

    Any guy who will don a green satin evening gown for others' entertainment pleasure is worth quoting, clearly.

    And “fun read” was mostly what I was shooting for with this post, so mission accomplished. :) Happy Friday!

  • KatFrench

    Post some Manly Man stuff next week to make up for it. Something maybe like this. (Warning: Prolly NS for most workplaces).

    Then again, someone would probably just counter with something like this.

  • KatFrench

    Post some Manly Man stuff next week to make up for it. Something maybe like this. (Warning: Prolly NS for most workplaces).

    Then again, someone would probably just counter with something like this.

  • http://www.copywriteink.blogspot.com Richard Becker

    Jason,

    You are well liked because you are authentic — the same online and off. When some people attempt to build online and offline brands, it creates a clash and even a brand crash in person.

    Funny. I never considered you a social media expert because you're so well grounded in communication. So please don't take it to heart. Think of it differently.

    A decent analogy might be that if you are plumber who happens to be especially good with wrench doesn't become a wrench expert. They remain a plumber. However, a wrench expert might never be a plumber, which certainly becomes a challenge when the sink starts to leak.

    All my best,
    Rich

  • http://www.copywriteink.blogspot.com Richard Becker

    Jason,

    You are well liked because you are authentic — the same online and off. When some people attempt to build online and offline brands, it creates a clash and even a brand crash in person.

    Funny. I never considered you a social media expert because you're so well grounded in communication. So please don't take it to heart. Think of it differently.

    A decent analogy might be that if you are plumber who happens to be especially good with wrench doesn't become a wrench expert. They remain a plumber. However, a wrench expert might never be a plumber, which certainly becomes a challenge when the sink starts to leak.

    All my best,
    Rich

  • http://www.copywriteink.blogspot.com Richard Becker

    Jason,

    You are well liked because you are authentic — the same online and off. When some people attempt to build online and offline brands, it creates a clash and even a brand crash in person.

    Funny. I never considered you a social media expert because you're so well grounded in communication. So please don't take it to heart. Think of it differently.

    A decent analogy might be that if you are plumber who happens to be especially good with wrench doesn't become a wrench expert. They remain a plumber. However, a wrench expert might never be a plumber, which certainly becomes a challenge when the sink starts to leak.

    All my best,
    Rich

  • http://allantyoung.com/2008/05/15/google-commoditizing-networks/ Allan

    Ton of great links to follow up on, thanks! I am really skeptical about social media “gurus.” I'm not saying they don't exist, I'm sure some are very good and can add value. I just happen to know a few guys who've written a junky little Facebook app and are now suddenly calling themselves “experts.” I don't think “expert” can be a self-appointed title – you're only an expert when a lot of people consider you to be one for the field that you're in.

    • KatFrench

      I like that idea; that “expert” can't be a self-appointed title. I like “strategist,” “practictioner,” and “specialist,” myself.

  • http://allantyoung.com/2008/05/15/google-commoditizing-networks/ Allan

    Ton of great links to follow up on, thanks! I am really skeptical about social media “gurus.” I'm not saying they don't exist, I'm sure some are very good and can add value. I just happen to know a few guys who've written a junky little Facebook app and are now suddenly calling themselves “experts.” I don't think “expert” can be a self-appointed title – you're only an expert when a lot of people consider you to be one for the field that you're in.

  • http://allantyoung.com/2008/05/15/google-commoditizing-networks/ Allan

    Ton of great links to follow up on, thanks! I am really skeptical about social media “gurus.” I'm not saying they don't exist, I'm sure some are very good and can add value. I just happen to know a few guys who've written a junky little Facebook app and are now suddenly calling themselves “experts.” I don't think “expert” can be a self-appointed title – you're only an expert when a lot of people consider you to be one for the field that you're in.

  • KatFrench

    I like that idea; that “expert” can't be a self-appointed title. I like “strategist,” “practictioner,” and “specialist,” myself.

  • KatFrench

    I like that idea; that “expert” can't be a self-appointed title. I like “strategist,” “practictioner,” and “specialist,” myself.

  • http://mariadkins.com/ Mari

    Thanks!

  • http://mariadkins.com/ Mari

    Thanks!

  • http://mariadkins.com/ Mari

    Thanks!

  • http://www.internet-bard.com KatFrench

    I like that idea; that “expert” can't be a self-appointed title. I like “strategist,” “practictioner,” and “specialist,” myself.

  • http://mariadkins.com/ Mari

    Thanks!