Social Media

Because you’re worth it — how a personal brand helps your career

In the late 1980s and early 1990s social and cultural researchers and thinkers began to articulate how changes in the organization of global capitalism were affecting cultural life.

The shift toward networked forms of “just-in-time” production and the pervasiveness of consumption and market relations in everyday life was articulated in concepts like: “flexible accumulation”, “reflexive production”, “promotional culture” and “immaterial labour”.

One curious product of these changes has been the rise of the “personal brand”, particularly in immaterial and knowledge-based forms of labour.

For professional meaning-makers of all kinds – marketers, advertisers, journalists, political and policy advisors, academics and researchers – success increasingly depends on their ability to “brand” their value (skills, networks and immaterial qualities) as a competitive advantage to potential employers and investors.

The crafting of the personal brand began with what Irving Goffman (1959) termed “impression management”, evident in a more conscious attention to attire and corporate accessories like business cards, personal organizers and mobile phones.

Personal branding evolved alongside the development of post-war corporate culture (famously dramatized at its most excessive in the “business card” scene from American Psycho.)

The arrival of mainstream social networking platforms like Twitter, LinkedIn, About.Me and Facebook in the past decade have intensified and expanded personal branding in two ways.

Firstly, aspiring professionals can adapt the techniques of corporate brands in the way they “mediate” their identity. And, secondly, the way we present ourselves as personal brands gets mixed up with our private social lives.

Much public discussion about the private-public nature of social media has focused on the potential negatives. For instance, media have fed panic about drunken photos on Facebook harming future job prospects, and many employers report “googling” and “facebooking” potential employees. This panic has subsided as professionals use social networks to scout for talent, interact with leaders in their industry, and build their personal profile.

Developing a personal brand can be a strategic and savvy activity for aspiring professionals in the cultural industries.

Greens Senator Sarah Hansen-Young advertised for a media advisor solely on Twitter, telling The Australian newspaper that “someone who is not on Twitter probably isn’t going to be the right person for the job”.

Latika Bourke was recruited from Fairfax to the ABC largely because of the Twitter profile and following she developed covering Federal politics.

In each of these cases a strong personal brand was the basis of career opportunities. For an exceptional few personal brands can also be commercialized. Mia Freedman has created a valuable personal brand through her Mamamia blog, attracting a lucrative audience of middle-class Australian women.

Natalie Tran, a 20-something media graduate, makes money from the shared ad-revenue of her CommunityChannel on YouTube and has been recently partnered with Lonely Planet to make a series of travel documentaries targeted at her young and educated audience. In each case, online presence, profile and connectedness are valuable commodities deployed by these individuals to enhance their professional profile or to make money.

Far from the panic of keeping everything online “private”, for aspiring professionals in the knowledge and creative industries, making themselves more “public” in a strategic and managed way cultivates a valuable self, visible and strategically positioned for future opportunities.

Aspiring professionals can use platforms like Twitter to follow the conversation within their industry, establish a presence, and interact with industry leaders. Employment in these industries has “always” revolved around personal connections and who you know.

Social media adds another layer to this process of image and impression management. The development of advertising in the 20th century was accompanied by increasingly sophisticated forms of market research.

One sign personal branding has become embedded in our work cultures is the emergence of online tools and services that track personal brand value.

In the field of personal branding, the emerging market leader is a service called Klout (others include Twitalyzer, Backtype and PostRank) which will give your personal brand value a “score” and a profile based on the size and quality of your online networks. Services like Klout encourage individuals to more self-consciously evaluate their online presence and how they can strategically improve it.

Personal branding is part of branding becoming a ubiquitous platform for social communication. On Twitter, Facebook and other social networking platforms, young creative folk both interact with brands, incorporate brands into their identity and present themselves using the codes and logics of branding.

Branding provides a model for imagining our self, constructing our identity, and our place in the world. As middle class individuals imagine and present themselves using platforms and techniques once exclusive to governments and corporations, are they becoming more empowered participants in economic and political processes?

Or, is this further evidence of daily life becoming more intensively plugged into a global infrastructure of cultural production where individuals are pushed into more competitive, and perhaps alienated, relations with each other?

Personal branding might make individuals “richer” within the current system of cultural production, but that doesn’t mean it enriches our social, cultural and political life. The “value-added” presentation of the self might make us more interested in out-manoeuvring our fellow competitor in the game of life rather than contributing to meaningful public conversations.

There are both utopian and dystopian views of personal branding. The challenge for media, cultural and political researchers is to assess the limits and possibilities of branding as a platform for social communication.

The Conversation

Nicholas Carah, , The University of Queensland

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

“Does Donald Trump’s election as United States president mean that globalization is dead, or are reports of the process’ demise greatly exaggerated?”

The title of this post is from Project Syndicate with Barry Eichengreen, a Professor of Economics at the University of California, Berkeley, who wrote an interesting article on the condition of globalization and the world trade growth even without Trump in office- Globalization’s Last Gasp.

So what’s the deal with globalization? Is it here to stay?

I’ve personally come across articles with claims and opinions citing experts about why globalization is said to be dead. Other experts  have a different opinion on the matter. See for example- Globalization is alive and well.

Weekend Reads

  • Meet the marketing genius behind Snap’s new Spectacles-(Read on Recode)
  • Truth be told- Many companies still struggle with the idea of dealing and responding to a cyber attack. However, industry leaders such as  IBM, wants to train corporate security teams, CEOs, and PR departments to handle Cyber Attacks- (Read on Bloomberg)
  • How is the driverless car a great opportunity for healthcare? You guessed it right! The autonomous car is not just here to carry you to your destination. It can do more than that. For example the future Mercedes Benz– (Read on LinkedIn)
  • What is Zara’s secret recipe to success? In an article by Bloomberg, “Zara’s culture isn’t as easily copied as the latest fashion trends.” This is one of the reasons why Inditex, its parent company, is more successful than it’s competitors such as American Apparel, Gap and  H&M. (Read on Bloomberg)
  • Thinking about quitting your job? Here are 10 things you need to keep in mind about quitting your job- (Read on Forbes)

And how about you? What are you currently reading? Please share in the comments section below. I’d love to read from you.

Have a nice weekend!


The Business Of Research and Scientific Studies- How Right is John Oliver?

Governments and organisations around the globe of spend a lot of money on research. Studies are published yearly and part of that information is of course made available to the public. Although a lot of people respect scientific knowledge and new discoveries, it can be quite discouraging  to see journalists misreport those findings to an extent of misinforming and misleading the public.-  I don’t dispute that some studies indeed may sound incomplete or even have a broad conclusion.

In some reports, some studies are made to sound some how ridiculous. Like smelling gas! Really? Of course they relied on studies for their stories- Scientific studies, for that matter! To some, some studies could sound quite too funny to even take the findings seriously! And that’s where the problem lies-Missing the point. And missing an important message may have consequences as well.

Does that mean that science is getting lost in translation? Or does the problem lie on the proportion of science‐trained reporters in the news media?

Recall that study by  World Health Organisation  in 2015, which revealed that eating processed meats like bacon, ham, hot dogs and sausage puts you at risk of getting cancer? I will never forget the reactions i saw from meat devotees. Even for business owners, especially in the meat industry.  I’ll never forget the conversations i had with a local butchers, here in Konstanz, Germany.

“That report couldn’t be true. It’s less convincing,” some said

“And it’s bad for business.”

Even some were not ready to give up their portions of yummy saucy steaks, It’s  was obvious that the first reaction from a large number consumers concerned about their health, would have simply been to stay away from eating meat!

I came across an article by John Wilkes, Founder of UCSC’s Science Communication Program, which discusses the importance of quality of science reporting. He notes

While the quality of science reporting has grown noticeably better, scientists note that there is still a lot of room for improvement

Absolutely! I agree with him.

When bad science makes headlines, who is to blame for misleading the public?

I am a huge fan of John Oliver’s satirical show, Last Week Tonight. And i like the way he dives into this topic. Critics may have a different opinion about his views on ‘science journalism’, but i like the way he looks at published scientific research and the way that information is communicated to the public.  Take a look. It’s worth your time.