By Jacqueline Meyler and Giuseppina Chiaramonte
The Hoffman Agency, San Jose
Being memorable is very important in today’s consumer-driven culture. From Starbucks to Southwest Airlines, each company is trying hard to get its brand to stand out from the pack – sometimes spending more than $100 million in advertising dollars to do so. But it’s worth noting that branding is not limited to large companies. Each and every one of us are walking and talking brands … for ourselves. As with any good brand, it’s important to be sincere – not a stereotype, especially in our online presence.
With more than 1.15 billion active users around the world, logging in an average of 17.39 minutes of usage per day (or 8.3 hours per month), it’s no surprise that most of our day-to-day conversation (and brand-building) will inevitably take place on Facebook.
We choose to stay on Facebook for a plethora of reasons: all of our photos are online, we need to keep up with friends who live in different cities … and the oh-so-popular “What if they NEED to contact me” syndrome. With that in mind, it’s fair to say we’ve all come across the different Facebook stereotypes that populate our newsfeeds.
To ensure you’re making the most of your personal brand, here are a few stereotypes you should stray away from. They’re memorable all right, but for all the wrong reasons …
Little Miss Sunshine
These cheery folks post statuses about their seemingly perfect life – and what they’re doing with it every second of the day. You’re liable to hear when they’re up for a new job, how they can’t wait for “Cancun 2014!” or the great deal they just got on green beans at the supermarket.
This aggressively perky oversharing is a nuisance, especially on days when we wake up late for work, crack our iPhone’s front screen or run out of milk for our breakfast cereal.
The Fix: There’s nothing wrong with having sunshine-like tendencies, but it’s important to remember that the best brands are outward-looking. Make sure to share some things that don’t necessarily have anything to do with you. Find an inspiring news story or an Upworthy video that conveys your positive sentiments without being too self-centered.
The Bandwagon Sports Fan
Oh, you like baseball now? Glad to see you recently started caring once your home team made the playoffs. Go team! Better get that football in the hoop for another goal!
The Fix: The first rule about effective branding is to make it sincere. If you’re a genuine fan, join the conversation about your team. Avoid jumping on when things are going good and going silent when things are going bad. Trust us, the end result feels way better when you experience the high and low points of the season.
The Quote Master
“This person finds great joy in being extremely unoriginal.”
– Ancient Chinese Proverb
The Fix: We like fortunes, just not on our Facebook feed. If you find a quote that speaks to you, tell us a little bit about why you like it – this helps convey your original thinking, thus boosting your personal brand.
Mr. Rain Cloud
Poor so-and-so. Nothing ever seems to go right for him. He’s either gotten no sleep, has a bellyache or can’t find his car keys. We know this because we are given the minute-by-minute on every unfortunate circumstance, no matter how miniscule.
The Fix: This one is pretty obvious – nobody likes a negative attitude. Before broadcasting your complaints to the social world, stop to think how it will reflect on your brand. And when in doubt, remember the maternal platitude – if you haven’t anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all.
The Overly Attached Couple
These people have no boundaries when it comes to PDAI – public displays of affection … on the Internet. Every time one of them posts, the other has to comment on it with an overly mushy response, typically featuring an abnormal amount of heart emoticons. These people post couple photos. Every. Single. Day.
Meanwhile, single people are rolling their eyes and grabbing a tub of ice cream.
The Fix: While being in love is the best thing ever, a good brand knows that it should engage with all of its fans, not just the top one. There’s nothing wrong with posting cute couple pics and sending each other an “I love you,” just make sure to diversify your content. Your personal brand should never be your current relationship status.
The Suspiciously Vague Poster
These people post statuses that are so vague, you don’t even know if it’s worth commenting on. A lot of the time, these posts can even fall under a way-vaguer version of the above stereotypes. However most of the time, it’s about dating drama or a passive aggressive remark directed towards a frenemy.
In the words of Fry from Futurama: “Not sure if I should ask what’s wrong, or if ‘liking’ is good enough.”
The Fix: Good branding doesn’t beg for attention, which is what these vague Facebook statuses often do – beg for someone to ask for more. If you cannot share a fully formed thought, then you probably shouldn’t share at all.
This is only a handful of the many stereotypes found on Facebook. If you’re guilty of a few – that’s OK – we are too. What’s important is knowing how to break from the stereotypes to create a more sincere and engaging brand for yourself.
What are some other ways you can enhance your personal brand?