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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Social Media Series: Dan Schawbel on Bridging New & Old

This week's guest for Flooring The Consumer's Social Media Series: Bridging New & Old is Dan Schawbel.

Dan Schawbel redefines the whole notion of 'personal branding' not just for Gen-Y, but for anyone serious about developing a digital presence. He has set an example with his award winning Personal Branding Blog® and as publisher of Personal Branding Magazine®, head judge for the Personal Brand Awards®, director of Personal Branding TV®, and author of the very soon to-be-released "Me 2.0: Build a Powerful Brand to Achieve Career Success (Kaplan, April 2009).

Google "Dan Schawbel" and you'll discover a staggering number of results justifying Fast Company's characterization of Dan as a "personal branding force of nature." [If you don't believe me, Google your own "name" and check how many results you generate. Then, compare back to Dan's results...]

No surprise when you realize the number of insightful articles with practical, actionable advice he has written, including for MarketingProfs [Paul Dunay interviewed Dan for the MProfs Daily Fix in a post titled How to Create Your Own Personal Brand] and, most recently, Mashable.

Dan's chapter for The Age of Conversation 2 - Why Don't They Get It? - the book that 237 authors from around the world collaborated on to benefit Variety, the children's charity [please consider buying the book] - is titled "eBranding for the Masses." It starts with the following statement: "What people might overlook or fail to understand is that our lives are already the result of the Internet."

C.B.: Dan, how and why did you get involved in social media?

Dan: I got involved in the social media world during my junior year of college, when someone in my dorm ran over to me and said "I just got Bentley signed up for Facebook, you should join!" We were the 16th college that joined Facebook and I turned it down completely at first. Then after a few weeks I saw the potential and quickly gravitated towards it. After this introduction into the web 2.0 word, I started blogging in October of 2006. My first blog was entitled "Driven-to-succeed" and it focused on providing college students the necessary information they needed in order to succeed at college and get the job they wanted upon graduation.

I got involved with social media because I was curious and wanted to get my ideas out there. That was even before I started the Personal Branding Blog in March 2007. I never really thought of myself as a writer back then, but blogging allowed me to find my voice and become more proficient and fine-tuned with communication skills, such as writing.

C.B.: What do you like most about social media?

Dan: I really enjoy the fact that you can attract people who care about your interests and groom them into loyal community members over time. I believe that a blog showcases who you are to the world and filters those who want to be around you, from others who aren't interested. In this way, it's easy to make friends, build on those relationships and live a better life.

C.B.: What do you like least about social media?

Dan: One of the downfalls of social media is that people who disagree with you, or want to see you fail, will come out and try and destroy your brand. They will camouflage themselves, appearing as a troll in your comments or they will build a website that makes fun of you. Heck, I have a group of people who started a forum that mocks every entry I write on my blog. When you build your personal brand, you should take a stand. This means that people will disagree with you, but I think that the world should be a little more accepting and "friendly."

C.B.: What 5 suggestions do you have for companies or individuals to implement so they can more effectively bridge old media with new media and connect with end users?

  • Understand that there are no rules in new media and gatekeepers in old media. Basically, bloggers can do whatever they want (there are consequences) but the traditional media elite can't because they have to go through bureaucracy.

  • Prioritize relationships because that is how you get good publicity. Relationships are critical in both old and new media and now.

  • If you're a company, you'll want to change the way you do business internally and externally, using social media tools, such as an internal social network for your employees.

  • Individuals should dive right into social media before it passes them by. I think learning from the ground up is the only way to truly understand how things work in this domain.

  • Do what is right for your brand. Don't have a Facebook page because it's "cool." Create it because you want to engage with your community on it.

  • C.B.: As the personal branding expert, are there any watch outs to using social media to create your personal brand when some organizations are still very traditional?

    Dan: I think you have to really understand what your brand is first and then set goals around it. If you've just started out, you'll really want to figure out what you're passionate about, your expertise and the resources you have at your disposal. Aside from using these tools to promote yourself, you really need to figure out your life plan, or the tools won't help guide you to your destination. I would be very mindful what you put on the web because everything is public, the truth will come out and Google is your permanent record.

    Within your company, there will be a lot of obstacles. You'll want to be at a company that is cool with allowing you to speak on behalf of it or on your own terms. You might be able to be your company's social media *expert*. It will be impossible for you to show short-term ROI because social media, like any brand building strategy, is long-term. Creating your personal brand inside your company can lead to a lot of exciting opportunities because people will know you based on what you're an expert in.

    C.B.: Any other thoughts to share about the effectiveness of social media in forging stronger relations with customers and companies.

    Be the real you because everyone else is taken and replicas don't sell for as much. You need to hold true to your own values and be honest with yourself. If you aren't transparent now, you will have no choice in the future, as all media collides, and consumer-generated media will force your real face to be out there. Just have fun with it and write what you love.

    Thank you, Dan.

    Comments? Reactions?

    Do you agree that there are no rules in new media? How might traditional media bureaucracy be more effectively streamlined? What about prioritizing relationships? How has that worked for you? Do you agree that participation in social networks, like brand building, is a long-term endeavor? Have you seen quick-hits with sticking power? What ways have you discovered of bridging use of these new tools with traditional approaches?

    For additional insights from participants in the Social Media Series: Bridging New & Old please visit The Entire Bridging New & Old Social Media Series.

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