personal branding Most modern professionals have heard something by now on personal branding. It has become a way for professionals to market themselves, clarifying goals, intentions and values to other professionals and potential employers. Branding yourself, however, may not be as in your control as you would think. So, I sat down with a content marketing and social media manager at IBM, Twitter enthusiast and all around nice guy, Martin Lieberman. Together we discussed the importance of understanding what your personal brand means and why he never tried to create a personal brand in the first place. 

S: What is the number one reason why individuals should create a brand for themselves aside from just their title at their current company? 


M: Well, a personal brand is important because essentially, it’s your identity to other people. In other words ... When people think about you, what do they think of you? What makes you, you? That’s your personal brand. But it’s important to remember that we all have a personal brand whether we want one or not, whether we try to create or build one or not. It’s not your job title or what you tell people your brand is. It’s largely based on what others’ perception of you is. So, you can try to manage or define your “brand,” but ultimately, it’s not completely in your control.

S: How did you start your own personal branding? 

M: Honestly, I really have no idea. I was me and I was sharing things and I was following my interests and I was interacting with other people long before “personal brands” were a thing. And that’s how I’ve continued to operate. It’s like Frank Eliason (best known for transforming the customer service culture at Comcast) once said: “I personally never wanted a personal brand. I just simply did what I was passionate about.”

S: You are very active on Twitter! What do you think this platform (Twitter) offers that other platforms don’t in regard to personal branding? 

M: Haha ... Some days I’m TOO active. But all kidding aside, I love Twitter because it’s the social network that’s most conducive to actual conversation. That’s right there in its DNA, the way you “reply” to tweets instead of commenting on posts — like you do on, say, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Instagram. And even with 280 characters, it’s still a quick post. You don’t even have to follow people to engage with them. (Yes, I know that’s also a downside, but we won’t get into that right now.)


Anyway, why does this matter for personal branding? Well, there are people who treat Twitter like an RSS feed and who automate a constant stream of content so they have a constant presence there. They barely pay attention and it shows. Then there are others who share less content and focus an equal amount or more on conversation. As Twitter becomes, in some respects, noisier because of automated tools, it’s the people in that latter group who stand out because conversation helps you build more personal connections. When people know you and like you, they pay attention to you and they remember you. That’s one way you build a stronger, more positive brand in the eyes of other people.

S: What advantages do other platforms (Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram) have in creating your own brand?


M: Every social platform has its own style and rhythms. (One reason why you shouldn’t just post the same thing on every network.) And it must be said that everybody uses each platform differently. Which is great. So, to answer your question a different way ... I think, regardless of what you’re sharing and where, what’s more important is how you’re sharing. Are your posts always about you? Are you posting in a way that gets people to engage? Are you posting too often? Are you always posting other people’s content and never your own original stuff? When people comment on your posts, are you acknowledging them or responding to them? All of this reflects on your brand.

S: What’s the main difference between marketing for a company and marketing yourself? 

M: There are multiple differences, but one thing to remember in the context of personal branding is that marketing is always about person-to-person communication. Even in B2B, you’re not marketing to an entire business; you’re marketing to individuals. Many business brands, B2B and B2C, make the mistake of broadcasting and trying to reach as many people as possible every time. When you represent yourself, you shouldn’t have that mindset. You should try to share content and insights in a way that will connect with other people on a more personal level.


S: What main piece of advice would you give someone just getting started with their personal brand? 

M: I’ll repeat that Frank Eliason quote I shared earlier: “I personally never wanted a personal brand. I just simply did what I was passionate about.” I think if you focus more on your interests and expertise — and being a person — and less on your “brand,” that will translate more authentically and organically. And as a result, your brand will be more credible and endearing.

Hear more from Martin at Keeping Social Media Social!