We often talk about the term “Brand” having many specifics when it comes to marketing: business name, products, and services. The most overlooked is consistently the individual. You have your own online brand whether you like it or not. Celebrities understand the importance of branding themselves online, but for most people, marketing themselves is a low priority.
Strategy 1: Stay off the grid (The Best and Worst Strategy)
If you are not involved in social media and do not have any websites up, than a google search may not turn up anything with your name. This is a very effective strategy, until, there is something that happens outside of your control and it makes it to the internet.
There are plenty of examples on the internet of the mugshot from an arrest, where the charges were dropped and you were found innocent but that mugshot remains forever on the internet.
You may be with a group of friends that take a picture of you and it gets posted to the internet, and that is the image that represents your name for years to come.
Unless you live in a remote location with little contact with the rest of the world, then I would not recommend this strategy. Have an active self-branding plan.
Strategy 2: All In
You can be heavily involved in social media and blogs for both business and personal life. This is a proactive approach to getting your individual brand out there. If you manage this strategy well, it is the best overall strategy because you are generating a lot of content regarding your brand which makes it harder for outside content about you to be seen on the internet.
The downside is just as in real life, social media relationships or content can go bad. If you say something inappropriate in the real world, you can usually throw out an apology and move on. The problem with the internet is that an unthoughtful comment twisted and utilized for all to see. Just think of this strategy like reviews. You will get a lot of reviews, mostly good, with a few bad. At least someone researching you can view the overall body of work and make a decision for themselves.
Strategy 3: Controlled
You treat the internet like working for a company. Everything you put out is with a filter. Most of the content is business and charity related with a few controlled glimpses into your personal life. This strategy is the most conservative, boring, but easy way out. This strategy seems like the obvious choice but the trick is having content that is engaging and entertaining. The search engines know if people are engaging with your online posts. It is usually transparent to the readers that you are playing the politician and writing without saying anything or your content is just plain boring.
Don’t be afraid to be involved on the internet and deal your brand. The results may not always be perfect but at least you are contributing to your narrative and overall brand. If not, you are at the mercy of someone else to define it for you. And if coworkers, have Photoshop, you have to be prepared for anything.