Be the Brand

Ernest Tubb Record Shop

People have become a little testy because Google finally clamped down hard on the “unofficial brand” pages popping up all over Google+. My response, originally posted there, was this:

Lament Not, Brands

It’s funny how many people are lamenting the temporary shutdown of brands on Google+. Meanwhile, I’m seeing lots of smart business people connecting with people, making relationships, sharing a mix of personal and business materials, and building relationships that will transcend the vagueness of following an official stream.

Business is about humans connecting with humans. This new platform is the top shelf of potential for doing a great job of doing that. Keep doing what you’re doing as a brand of one, and just be sure your ABOUT page represents your organization well.

Go forth. Be the brand. Just be you as the brand.

Be The Brand

When Julien Smith and I wrote Trust Agents, this was exactly the point we were making to bigger corporations and smaller businesses alike. These new tools allow us to connect as humans to humans and build relationships that transcend transactional customer bases. For instance, on that post in Google+, I heard from Dan from Sonos, Tristan from Symantec, Toni from Raytheon, and lots of other people who I take to be the brand more than their CEO or official spokespeople. To me, that’s the magic of this.

So What Should One Do?

Social networks are often a kind of loosely joined cocktail party, where you can’t just run up, stuff a business card in someone’s hand and start selling them things. (Well, you CAN do that, but it rarely works.) Instead, you get to know the person, you learn whether there’s something you can do for them, you see what they are interested in outside of just work stuff, and you determine if there’s business there. If not, you might still keep the relationship, but it’s a much more organic play. If you want inorganic, there are plenty of media that let you do that better: TV, radio, etc.

What to do? Share. Curate. Comment. Make connections. Make introductions. Point out the good stuff that’s not yours. Talk about things that aren’t 100% business. And then? Things go a lot better.

Of the almost-500 big business people I follow on Google+, about 30 are people I’ve done some kind of financial transaction with (bought their product or whatever). The rest? The more I get to know them, the more I refer them to others, and the more I consider their solutions when I’m thinking of a purchase. That’s the magic, friends.

And You?

Isn’t that what YOU are doing with social networks and social media?

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    Be The Brand! ))

  • Anonymous

    you are a fucking retard

    • http://www.margieclayman.com Marjorie Clayman

      Seriously? What does that do except make you look like a jerk?

  • http://www.margieclayman.com Marjorie Clayman

    Hi Chris,

    I see your point, and for a lot of people/companies I think it could work. There are two problems I see that I think stem off of this kind of thinking though.

    1. A lot of people have taken on the idea that followers = prospects. I think I felt that way when I first started, too. Now, for someone like you or Jason Falls or Darren, whose business primarily depends on people who want to learn more about this online space, it’s 100% true. However, as I mentioned in Sam Fiorella’s #Bizforum chat on Wednesday night, most of the people I encounter online are peers and perhaps even competitors. For a lot of businesses, there simply are not a lot of people in the online space who would ever buy from them. For example, if I say, “I have a 2″ x 2″ special kind of xyz02,” it doesn’t matter how many people I meet as me. They won’t know what that is, it probably won’t come up in conversation, and thus they will not buy.

    2. While you are telling folks they need to be the brand this message often gets convoluted. Very few people probably know consciously that I work for  a family-run marketing firm.Sure, it’s in my Twitter bio and I bring it up now and then, but I would wager most people say, “Oh, that’s Margie,” not “Oh, that’s Clayman Advertising.” To me, (and this is nothing negative about how Tristan works) he is “KnowledgeBishop” on Twitter, or ya know, Tristan. I think I’ve talked with him about his job twice, and neither scenario was a customer/seller scenario.

    I think there are plenty of advantages to putting a name and a face to a brand or a company, but I feel like people have taken it almost too far to that end of the spectrum and not enough to the business end of the spectrum. I have no idea what most of the people whom I talk to do. None. I don’t know if they work for a huge company or if they’re self-employed. It just doesn’t come up enough. It’s not in their bio. It’s not on their blog.

    If people are going to be the brand on Google Plus, they are going to have to learn how to balance hilarious pictures of cats with, “Oh, by the way…*cough* I sell this.” That’s a tough balance to imagine right now as I explore the platform. I need to be able to take you seriously and find you credible if I’ll ever buy from you. I mean, that’s just me, but yeah. 

    • http://raulcolon.net Raul Colon

      Margie, 

      My name is Raúl I run a CIMA IT Solutions we are very focused on helping businesses get an edge in technology from building websites, referring software, and developing more complex applications. Sorry that I forgot to mention this before. LOL. 

      You have a great point Margie. I will follow your advice I think I have also gone to far not telling people what I do and I have probably missed out on the opportunity. Great point and great comment. 

      • http://www.margieclayman.com Marjorie Clayman

        I’d actually love to learn more about your business, RC. I have a small inkling of what you do but I don’t think I have the full picture. :)

    • http://joyfulmothering.net Christin

      To address your #2 point:
      I would venture to say if people aren’t even “putting out” whey they do in their bios anywhere around the net, they will not get very far. I may even go as far as saying they don’t want to mix business with people online. That they’re reason for networking online is not necessarily business related—of course I could be mistaken. I would think people who want to make connections and eventually do business, they would be more intentional about that sort of marketing. Either that or they just don’t have that knowledge base yet. {Internet marketing (or unmarketing) is certainly a learning curve for many.}

      I think it’s important to make it clear what you (not “you” personally, but “you” in general) do or who you work for, or what you specialize in through social media bios and blog “About” pages. Because typically, though not always, when a relationship begins to build between two people, even if business is not spoken of, a person may seek out further information and happen upon their business through their bios. If or when a need arises for need of that business/product, since a relationship or connection was first established, chances are better that person will go to that connection first to do business. Or refer their connections who have a need.  Did that make sense? lol

      I am not currently on Google+, but I am on Facebook and my personal profile is kept personal – for family and friends.

      I have a separate page for my blog so that “too much” personal life doesn’t get shared. While it’s important to share that personal side, too much can push people away. Not everyone wants to hear about how many cats you have or how how you’re doing the laundry today. It clogs up the stream and just makes “noise”.
      Mixing business with personal life is an art. It really is. You have to know what to share of your personal life (will it benefit others to hear this) that will not be in conflict with your brand. It’s a tough balance!

      • http://www.margieclayman.com Marjorie Clayman

        Very well said, Christin, and you’ve hit 100% on the problem. If I’m wondering what you are hoping to do, I won’t be able to help you achieve your goal, right?

        So let’s say you’re on Facebook and you’re sending out updates via your Facebook account every day. You’re talking to people, wishing everyone happy birthday, and just doing a bang-up job of engaging. All the while, you’re thinking, “This is great – these are all prospects!”

        Meanwhile, everyone else may be saying, “Oh, what a nice person Christin is!” (there’s nothing wrong with that, but as the world has established, nice does not equal wealth, unfortunately).

        If you are using Facebook or Twitter for personal reasons only, but you have a separate business account, tell me about that. Tell me how you are dividing up your time and efforts online. That way we can know what to expect from each other – or at least have a better shot at it.

      • http://www.margieclayman.com Marjorie Clayman

        Very well said, Christin, and you’ve hit 100% on the problem. If I’m wondering what you are hoping to do, I won’t be able to help you achieve your goal, right?

        So let’s say you’re on Facebook and you’re sending out updates via your Facebook account every day. You’re talking to people, wishing everyone happy birthday, and just doing a bang-up job of engaging. All the while, you’re thinking, “This is great – these are all prospects!”

        Meanwhile, everyone else may be saying, “Oh, what a nice person Christin is!” (there’s nothing wrong with that, but as the world has established, nice does not equal wealth, unfortunately).

        If you are using Facebook or Twitter for personal reasons only, but you have a separate business account, tell me about that. Tell me how you are dividing up your time and efforts online. That way we can know what to expect from each other – or at least have a better shot at it.

      • http://twitter.com/leapgo LeapGo.com

        Well said!

  • Brent

    Chris
    I agree! Everyone needs to find a niche topic and try to stand out from the crowd. I try to do the same with our company blog site. If you stand for something and show knowledge you will have an impact. People will want to read and will come back for more. Great topic for discussion today! Thanks for sharing.

    • http://chrisbrogan.com Chris Brogan

      Interesting. I’m curious what you use for your niche. : ) 

  • Mr. MneMemeaPhorholio

    “Social networks are often a kind of loosely joined cocktail party” … Nice, I mean sweet !! Likn’ this !!!

    As per what you’re describing, sounds like you’re describing a social butterfly garden. What do you do when your the brooding poet or intellectual that fades back into the wall paper lilies ?

    I know you will understand !

    • http://chrisbrogan.com Chris Brogan

      That I do, amigo. : ) 

  • http://twitter.com/VzNana Verizon Friends

    I love this post. My favorite Chris Brogan post to date and I’ve loved a lot of them. I’ll be sharing this and referencing it a lot. Thanks for being such a thoughtful, stand up guy. A lot of us look to you for leadership and you deliver. Time after time.

    • Mr. MneMemeaPhorholio

      Chris a stand up guy …… LOL .

      Chris on stage:

       Two Google Techs walk into a bar “_______________” 

      O O, forgot, he’s in the bar under Google world … Nasty looks and coke bottle Glass adjustments … Some body just earned himself a nasty hack !!!

    • http://chrisbrogan.com Chris Brogan

      Thanks so much. : ) 

  • http://raulcolon.net Raul Colon

    Chris, 

    This post really hits it on the nail regarding how many companies just want to sprint to Google Plus and do more of what they do on other social networks. 

    I really respect google for making the decision to accelerate the program but standing their ground on not allowing business profiles yet. I do believe they should be separate and not merged with the business profiles. 

    Great post Chris!

    • http://chrisbrogan.com Chris Brogan

      I think it’s tricky, but I hope this helps pepole figure things out. : ) 

  • http://www.danieldecker.net Daniel Decker

    Personally I think it’s far too easy to fall into the temptations of trying to monetize everything around us in a purely transactional way. Social Networks are supposed to be about being social. Like you said, connecting… curating… commenting… engaging. Those are the trust and relationship building components that THEN might lead to the prospect of doing business but it shouldn’t start in reverse.

  • http://www.mkronline.com/ Michael Robinson

    That’s very close to my perspective. All I’ve done on G+ is be myself, which involves talking to interesting people and linking interesting content (sometimes my own). 

    I’ll have a brand page for my blog for people who just want discussion and links relating to it, but I can’t imagine getting as much out of it as I have my real stream.

    • http://chrisbrogan.com Chris Brogan

      Which is why you’ll succeed. : ) 

  • Ed

    Wait, the same 10,000 social media experts who were screaming “be human”, are freaked out because they got to be human, got to interact, but didn’t get logo handcuffs? They got all that matters, but not the window dressing they screamed didn’t matter?

    Chris, this post, the fact that you saw ‘it’, and addressed it, tells me once again, you’re the best in the world.
    I thanked @Christianism for his response, because it’s a human touch, and departure from cold google.

    I do think Google handled it wrong, and I said so to Vic Gundutra.
    I also called it that brands would scream if they PRESUMED they could build pages, even AFTER G said ‘stop, not yet’, and now they’re acting like someone took something away they’ve had for years.

    Thank you for contributing reality week in week out, Chris. It’s posts like this that make the haters look like jealous tier rate wags.

  • Gary Thorkelson

    Excellent points…all. There’s no thunder left to make a better comment. But I embrace them all. I will say to Chris that the points are great cause the article is great. It’s a very simple, direct, and powerful explanation of the nature of this thing. In fact, with respect, I plan to use your descriptions later today in a small talking-point project I plan to complete. Thanks for the work here, Chris.

  • http://www.blog.gigcoin.com Julie Diaz-Asper

    I think for the bigger brands they might not want to build their presence around X social media manager on Google+. I bet the social manager is a great, actually lovely person but not necessarily “a lifer”. For small fry like my company or even not a household name/mid sized, I totally agree. I think Google needs to close that brand page gap pronto. Super rapido!

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  • http://thehomespunlife.com Sisterlisa

    Yes, that is how I view social media with business. Back in ‘the day’ my husband had to go golfing with a potential client to make the relationship FIRST. It really helped in the long run, because even now, almost 20 years later an in a different field, he has those relationships and the connections are still superb for the business we now have. :) So even if people don’t see any fruit from mingling now, it does pay off later when it really counts. And it’s not all about just scoring points by being friendly, you end up with some really good friends!

  • http://thehomespunlife.com Sisterlisa

    Yes, that is how I view social media with business. Back in ‘the day’ my husband had to go golfing with a potential client to make the relationship FIRST. It really helped in the long run, because even now, almost 20 years later an in a different field, he has those relationships and the connections are still superb for the business we now have. :) So even if people don’t see any fruit from mingling now, it does pay off later when it really counts. And it’s not all about just scoring points by being friendly, you end up with some really good friends!

  • http://badsphincteroedipus.com/ matt searles

    Yeah… I don’t know… I think really it’s like.. 

    Well it depends on how long you’ve been playing with social web toys, right? I mean.. ok.. now you mastered you’re twitter, you’re facebook, you’re linkedIn.. and now Google+ is forcing you to think a different way then how you were thinking with all those platforms..

    But like.. you and I remember when.. theses platforms.. like most people didn’t even think there were business applications to them.. 

    So its like.. how they approached the social web toys is like.. well.. its not really many to many.. they were still really doing the 1 to many.. and they were probably getting something for it and.. 

    So I guess I’m just saying that I think it’s just another example of lazy brains

  • http://cashwithatrueconscience.com/rbblog Ryan Biddulph

    Hi Chris,

    “Business is about humans connecting with humans.”
    Yep.

    You are the brand. Everything you do carries your signature, and your brand’s signature, whether you pen one or not. Doesn’t matter if you think you’re separate from some idea of a brand. 

    Connect with people. All the time. Forget about hiding behind a logo, or brand. You need to be trusted before your brand is trusted, because people aren’t buying from a logo, or fancy banner. People buy from you. That’s who the sale is going through.

    Thanks for sharing the important reminder with us Chris.

    Ryan

  • http://www.smilesoftware.com Jean MacDonald

    It has to be a social network first. If companies and marketers pummel Google+, the early adopters will say “No thank you” and there will be no one to market to. :-)

  • http://www.trentthomas.tv Trent Thomas

    In the end, it is not about financial or business success, it is about expanding our personal brand.  For instance, I want to be the best TRENT THOMAS I can be.  I want to add value in every area and relationship I have.  I am trusting that the money will follow the desire to add value to others.  Appreciate your authenticity Chris!

  • http://sproutsocial.com Brittany at Sprout Social

    Absolutely agree with you, Chris! Social media is certainly about making those connections and building those relationships, not trying to just sell, sell, sell. Business owners who take the opportunity to foster those personal relationships on G+ now will see the benefits later down the road. 

  • http://rickmanelius.com Rick Manelius

    What I like about this is it really forces people (in a good way) to consider their actions more broadly than just the times they are with friends or in the middle of the work day. No longer can we hide behind a pseudonym to protect us from the public’s eye. Privacy concerns aside (and there are many), this can be a good thing and promotes trust through transparency.

    We’re all a brand of sorts. A brand of you. A brand of me. I kinda like that.

  • http://wildhairmedia.com Mikey Ames

    Very insightful post, Chris.  Thanks!

  • http://www.online-business-virtual-assistant.com/ Virtual Business Assistant

     Great post Chris! Loved reading it.There is no doubt that the internet has forever changed the world in which we live. So it can only be expected that it would change the way we sell and marketing our businesses globally.

  • http://kirb.com Rob Simo

    It’s interesting how much lip service is payed to being your own brand but with the exception of twitter, most brands still like to speak through the corporate veil. It’s impersonal and increasingly irrelevant.

  • S Lakshmi Narasimhan

    Great post Chris. Actually, I have been using you as a self appointed mentor and have been following your blog posts and implementing on them for my business. I have read your Trust Agents book which is awesome and now using those principles am building a brand through my blog, twitter, linkedIn etc. The single most powerful lesson for me has been: Give first before taking or expecting to take.

  • http://www.businessandsoftwarestrategyforglobalisation.com Amelia@International Business

    Enlightening post.  Social media are not the be-all and end-all of business; they help companies market or advertise their products but much has to be done to connect with a potential customer on a personal level to be able to sell them anything.

    Being the brand is a helpful reminder to all companies out there.

  • http://twitter.com/jlhayman Jenni Hayman

    I very much like the spirit of this post, it makes good sense. These are activities, getting to know people, listening to them, discussing what you do with them, that we used to call making friends, getting to know neighbours. In our time the neighbourhood is just bigger and well-designed social media networks are one way to help navigate.

    I will admit that I am frustrated by lack of access to Google Plus, it’s a party not everyone is invited to. Only the cool kids who were on the leading edge a short while ago. As with many iterations of social media, I feel like the boat will sail before I get anywhere near the dock. I need to pay closer attention to what you’re talking about Chris and act before I think, or do the laundry, or finish that thesis chapter. :-)

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  • http://cfagbata.com Chukwuemeka Fred Agbata Jnr.

    Thank you Chris for always being real. I had to duck over from reader to comment. you’ve been a great mentor!

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    Most people online don’t know how to make themselves into the brand instead they brand someone else

  • Anonymous

    I got $31.68 for a XBOX 360 and my mom got a 17 inch Dell laptop for $95.84 being delivered to our house tomorrow by FedEX. I will never again pay expensive retail prices at stores. I even sold a 46 inch HDTV to my boss for $650 and it only cost me $53.79 to get. Here is the website we are using to get all this stuff GrabPenny.com

  • http://satandcable.com/content/sky-octo-lnb-sky-mini-dish-8-outputs Sky Octo LNB

    This is the best way to know the People for how to make them into the Brand.  Trust Agents book is very useful book for knowing deeply about the brand.

  • Mildred M. Tassone

    Agree about the connections. This is really a good starting point to begin the conversions before business profiles are introduced. Very raily do you get a chance to start clean with new systems and so this is a great opportunity.

  • http://www.slice-works.com krabil57

    Hi Chris, I’m enjoying Google+ too.  The atmosphere is more “friendly” somehow.  Being the brand, being a human being rather than a human doing, that’s what it’s all about.  

    Thanks for the reminder.

  • http://profiles.google.com/quiltytherapy Tisha Nagel

    I think it can be hard to be a business in social media and keep a human connection.  Thank you for the reminder.  Granted I like to promote my work, but supporting others is just as important, even if they are very similar.  I feel more connected to other in my craft thanks to social media. 

  • http://www.friendsinbusiness.com/board1/index.cgi/noframes/read/159090 IncomeatHome.com

    Well social networking is really helpful in business.. you get to know the person, you learn whether there’s something you can do for them, you see what they are interested in outside of just work stuff, and you determine if there’s business there. ..thanks

  • http://www.murdochmarketing.com Tom

    Social has underscored the point that ‘brand’ is not a graphic design standard; it is what/who you are. That said, you have no choice but to be the brand; you change, the brand changes. 

  • http://twitter.com/AppconomyOlga Olga Garcia

    I think the best part of this post is the 1 and only sentence of internal dialogue. “(Well, you CAN do that, but it rarely works.)” It’s always important to point out the obvious and yet subliminal. As a comm/social media person, I get it. But alas not everyone does. We do and will always need the internal dialogue. Thanks Chris for being the voice of reason. :)

  • Anonymous

    I really like this article this best,everyone want to do many things but it rare happen so focus your aim and succeed it.  

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