Since my past blog post I am feeling a lot more comfortable with the meaning behind personal branding. Originally I saw it solely as a social media platform, and although I am continuing to focus my research on that field, more research has led me to find that personal branding not only involves social media presence, but also includes how we represent ourselves in person, whether that by how we dress, who we interact with, stories we choose to share, etc.; Our personal brand is constantly evolving. An interesting definition for personal branding comes from researcher Peter Montoya, he states “personal branding is the process that takes your skills, personality and unique characteristics and packages them into a powerful identity that lifts you above the sea of anonymous faces and competitors.” Essentially, personal branding is society’s platform for marketing ourselves as a brand, differentiating ourselves from those around us.
This idea of branding ourselves can be done both socially and professionally in person and online. With further research, I continued to direct my interests towards researching the digital ways we brand ourselves, and how social media has taken over this idea of personal branding. In my past blog post I focused on the idea that personal branding is very much relevant to competing in our current job market. For this blog post, I wanted to focus my research more on society’s obsession with social media, and how this obsession has effected how we brand ourselves. First I needed to get some statistics on current social media use. According to Evan Asano, statistics regarding Social Media use include that “teens now spend 9 hours a day on social platforms.” In addition, “30% of all time spent online is allocated to social media interaction” and “the average person will spend nearly two hours on social media every day, which translated to a total of 5 years and 4 months spent over a life time.”(Asano) I have included a few graph depictions to help portray social media’s current relevance. I can’t say that I am surprised by these statistics by any means. I would even admit that sometimes I feel I shamelessly spend more than two hours a day on social media. Whether I am editing my photos, “lurking” my friends posts via Facebook and Instagram, or even just using Pinterest for recipe ideas, I feel I am constantly using social media platforms to stay relevant and up to date with society. It’s easy for me to admit that I have conformed to this obsession with social media, however something both I and the majority of people struggle with admitting is how much of our social media posts are truly authentic to our personalities, views, interests and beliefs.
How much do you post on social media that you think accurately represents how you feel or how you look? Instead do you just post things to conform or compete with society? This question led me to take a step back and ask myself how truthful i’m being via my social media accounts. If I am spending as much time as I am editing my photos, or re-writing tweets or Instagram captions, am I representing myself to my followers in an authentic manner? Is it fair for me to judge other people for falsifying the way the look or pretending to be interested in an event or group if I am doing the same? A quote I found from brand strategist Ryan Erskine’s helped spark these questions. He believes that “Personal brands are like wardrobe choices. You need to be honest about whose attention you’re trying to get, what your natural style is, and the story you’re trying to tell. Without all that, you won’t make comfortable clothing choices, and you definitely won’t have a personal brand you can relate to. It’ll be more likely to hang in your closet, along with the rest of your unloved vests and sweaters.” Erskine is implying that it is important to feel comfortable with your personal brand, especially your digital brand, because if you can’t accurately represent this brand in person you are only cheating yourself. The reason jobs are constantly checking social media platforms is because they want to see how we present ourselves, who we network with and whether or not we are capable of helping a company brand themselves as we are able to brand ourselves. If we are constantly being unauthentic online, we won’t be able to live up to expectations in reality.
This view point led me to the question, how many times in my life have I bought something, or subscribed to something, or even “liked” something that I didn’t need, didn’t want, or didn’t agree with, just in order to impress those around me? Numerous times I have found myself feeling the need to conform to society by doing the “popular thing” or the expected thing, and that has sometimes led me to wasted time or money. This isn’t necessarily an easy idea to admit to, and that’s why I wanted to challenge myself with my digital artifact. After furthering my research and asking myself a few tough questions, I decided I wanted to track my social media use over the course of the four weeks in May. I will be using the attached excel format to track the amount of time I spend on social media, what I am doing while I am on each platform, and how much of this use was authentic to my personal brand or instead meant for impressing my followers. On the Sunday of each week I will share my social media use via Word Press, and share my reaction to the amount of time I spent over the course of each week. I want to test myself to be honest about how authentic I am truly being through my social media use. In each post I hope to share more research I’ve collected on personal branding, and I’m thinking of potentially interviewing a few friends to see how willing they are to be truthful about the subject.
At the end of the month I plan to potentially do one final blog post to compile all of my thoughts and conclusions on my logged month. I want to see if my social media use changed at all due to these posts and to challenge myself to take a step back and question my social media use. I very much believe in the idea that my Personal Brand is constantly evolving and I think this will allow myself to see it changing from week to week. I hope me challenging myself to be truthful and share my findings with others will help other people to be more truthful about their social media use. I think this project will not only teach me more about personal branding and its relevance within our society today, but also allow me to see how it has affected my everyday actions and personal choices in general.
Erskine, Ryan. “How to Define Your Personal Brand in 5 Simple Steps.” Entrepreneur. N.p., 07 July 2016. Web. 26 Apr. 2017.
Asano, Evan . “How Much Time Do People Spend on Social Media? [Infographic].” Social Media Today. N.p., 20 Jan. 2017. Web. 26 Apr. 2017.
Erskine, Ryan. “22 Statistics That Prove the Value of Personal Branding.”
Entrepreneur. N.p., 13 Sept. 2016. Web. 26 Apr. 2017.Commentary. “Our obsession with personal branding reveals a dark truth about the future of work.” Quartz. Quartz, 07 Mar. 2017. Web. 26 Apr. 2017.