An Article for a Nobody: Antithesis to the Branding Brigade

I’m not sure I can think of anything worse than being famous. I’ve been banging this drum for years and it’s something I assume people will agree with, but they never do.

Despite my job, I’m actually quite delicate about putting things out there. I think that’s human nature, until I’m reminded otherwise.

But honestly, the thought of strangers knowing who I am terrifies me. That isn’t from a safety perspective either. Just imagine the average person on the street not only knowing you, but feeling like they’re invested in your life and having an opinion on that life.

And then your character’s assessed if you don’t give that person a few minutes for a selfie or a chat, regardless of what’s going on for you at that moment.

Please excuse my French, but honestly, F*CK THAT!

An Article for a Nobody: Antithesis to the Branding Brigade

Imagine becoming famous, overnight

Let’s say you win a singing competition.

All of a sudden, without pause or preparation you’re a ‘somebody’. Someone people listen to. Your voice is heard by millions.

Only you’ve got no more intelligence or information than you had yesterday. Your ‘thing’ is being well known. Oh and a bit of singing. Only now, your every sentence should empower, be perfectly correct, and never belittle or bemuse.

Even if you’re not singing when you air it.

Like you’re the last bastion of common sense and justice against the evil modern world.

All because you’ve got a fairly decent singing voice.

Why should we listen to your views, on things you’re not an expert in? And why is this opinion counted as more worthy than a ‘nobody’.

Even that phrase is deplorable.

A famous person is a ‘somebody’. Therefore assuming if you have no Twitter followers or don’t vlog, you’re a nobody.

Shit, I’d take being a nobody any day of the week.

An Article for a Nobody: Antithesis to the Branding Brigade

Enter the Personal Brand Brigade

Recruiters are being pushed ever more online. We all are. When I was a recruiter, the sight of social media on your desktop would’ve raised eyebrows. Now, it’s part and parcel of the role.

“Get online” is becoming as much of a catchphrase as “get on the phone”.

You’re being implored to start vlogging.

Start your podcast.

Give people value.

Be ever present.

Get social and all the riches of the world will be yours to hold.

I’m sort of an advocate for this. Because it makes sense in a lot of respects. The more people you can show your wares, the better you’ll do with the time at your disposal.

Producing a video is the same time investment, whether it’s seen by one person or fifty thousand. So it makes sense to get more bang for your buck.

And it works. I bet I could give you a list of recruiters in different locations and markets, just from their LinkedIn presence. Not long ago, you might have known the name of your direct rival. Now, those rivals are constantly VOCAL.

But my view of personal branding differs from a lot of others. As far as I can see, building a brand online is great. If it serves a purpose.

I’m going to be honest and say, my purpose is this: You reading a blog.

Mostly, that’s based on recruitment. But occasionally I’ll write about something linked to the industry and therefore interesting to its inhabitants. And Personal Branding is the new email.

“Everyone needs it.”

Listen, whether you post on LinkedIn or not, you’ve got a personal brand. It’s that simple. But the way business is going, you’re going to be pushed to do more online and represent yourself to a wider network. It’s the nature of modern business.

Who owns that presence is a fight we’re going to see more and more of, in my opinion. I feel like we’re on the precipice of a new type of property struggle.

But the reason social media’s pushed, is because it works.

I write articles for recruiters on a job website. So I’m hopeful some of you will realise that and apply for a job.

That’s my reason.

Work out yours and you’ll be better equipped to answer the question: do I really need to vlog my thoughts on the f*cking weather.

An Article for a Nobody: Antithesis to the Branding Brigade

For the sake of your sanity

Yes, get out there. There’s a business sense to involving social media in your personal branding. If you reach more people, you’ll have more enquiries.

But PLEASE do that on your own terms.

You don’t NEED 15,000 followers. Are you gonna do business with 15,000 people? Right now? All at once?

Notoriety’s great, if you’re notorious for the right reasons. But the more time you spend trying to be a ‘somebody’ the less control you have on that narrative.

The secret to all this stuff I believe is being known, in a network small enough to be worthwhile and beneficial, and not contrary to your health. But that last part is so important.

You can write something on LinkedIn in no time at all and suddenly have a thriving network. I’ve seen it happen more than a few times.

Stay on LinkedIn long enough and you see new trends and trend setters emerge.

But anyone who says likes and comments don’t affect them is outright lying. And I’m one of the most likely people to say that. Because when it boils down to it, I really couldn’t give a shit. I’m kinda looking forward to deleting LinkedIn one day.

But it does affect you, even if a written post doesn’t do well and written copy is possibly the least personal form of media going. Now imagine a highly personal video baring your soul.

Then have someone tell you you’re “full of shit”…

Even if you’re not, doubt creeps in.

Your basic go-to response is questioned.

You become more introvert.

More sheltered.

Less yourself.

What if you’re the thing they don’t like, and not your ideas?

Now, multiply that by 100,000. Imagine the man on the street hating you.

This happens everyday. And often, the cushion, the threshold (to use a recruitment term) is negated. The “money that comes with fame” evaporates. Or eludes you altogether.

An Article for a Nobody: Antithesis to the Branding Brigade

“Fame and fortune” for the “rich and famous”

These two expressions are becoming less true as the world evolves. In the Roaring Twenties you were rich AND you were famous. You found fame and fortune.

Now, finding fame is so achievable it gives almost anyone the platform to becoming a ‘somebody’.

But fortune isn’t guaranteed. It’s a hundred years since Hollywood first started ruling the world. Perhaps this time it’s the Scorning Twenties. Where every move you make is under a magnifying glass for an anonymous mob to judge.

And in this scenario, you haven’t even got the trappings to show for it.

What then?

You’re well known and don’t have the only thing that was promised.

Learn lessons from others

Difficult thing to do, but think about this statement.

Famous people all say they’d pay a huge amount of money for anonymity.

Yes, I know this has to be on very certain terms. Because in a lot of famous people’s lives, notoriety is what pays the bills.

If you’re lucky, that’s due to a talent. Like acting. Or singing. In an even more ideal world, it’s something that adds to the world.  Like being a famous doctor or surgeon.

NB. if you’re a famous spine surgeon, please get in touch.

I know all famous people need attention to switch back on at some point. But that afternoon of total anonymity would live long in their memory.

To go to the pub, unannounced.

To go shopping, without a selfie request.

To go about ‘normal business’ without a stranger demanding something from them.

An Article for a Nobody: Antithesis to the Branding Brigade

Actionable advice

Here’s what this article’s been building up to. The one thought I’ve tried to evoke.

You can be social and build your personal brand totally on your own terms.

You don’t have to vlog or tweet or write on LinkedIn. You can play to your strengths and diminish the amount of unwanted hatred you get online.

You can’t negate it completely if you’re online. I don’t think that’ll ever happen. But you can choose to have it on your own terms.

You’d have to have a cast iron case to successfully argue any form of social media is compulsory. Other than people in my job, or Social Media Managers.

Other than that, you can be completely and totally free of social media. But only if you want to be.

When was the last time you took a break from it? Your last holiday? Maybe? For half a day?

Try it out. You’ll be amazed at how much better you feel, not getting involved for a while.

“Be kind”

Yep, like it. Everyone needs to be kind.

But if you think sharing this slogan on social media is going to turn the world into a land of rainbows and lollipops I think you need to reevaluate your medication.

Last weekend, Yorkshire Tea was photographed in the hand of a politician. And Twitter dutifully exploded against the company.

An Article for a Nobody: Antithesis to the Branding Brigade

The angry Tweeters protested at the CEO, the MD, anyone who’d take the blame for this “utterly disgusting lack of judgement”.  A social media employee took the brunt and spent all weekend explaining that their products were widely available to the public.

Do you think someone who bullies, taunts and mocks online will be deterred by a hashtag?

“Oh hang on, it says here I need to be kind. I better not tell this person to kill themselves for the sheer pleasure of it.”

What happens when the slogan fails?

When this well thought out battle plan doesn’t quite cut the mustard? When you share a video with a personal touch and someone still sends you hateful comments?

Back to the drawing board of self deprecation?

Or should we all be a bit smarter about this?

Should we be a little more guarded against the monster on the internet?

Maybe I’m too cynical. Maybe the outpouring of support online will survive. Or maybe this Wild West of lawless enterprise with anonymous bullies might need a different approach from all of us.

How much does your health cost?

I’m relatively vocal online. But I do so under my own terms. I’ve not been on a podcast yet. I don’t vlog. I don’t tweet, snapchat or Youtube.

That’s not to say I won’t.

But I won’t do so at the behest of someone else, for the sake of a few likes.

And that’s something I think everyone needs to realise. It’s correct and apt to lay blame at the media in the role of mental health of the public.

But FFS, please stop giving your health up so easily!

They’re not even paying you any more.

You’re giving it away for free.

Of course you should be yourself online.

Be as open as you’re willing to be.

But don’t become so involved and at risk, one negative comment could bring you down.

You’re so much better than that.


Some fun facts…

Teenagers who spend more than three hours a day on social media may have double the risk of mental health problems as those who shun it.

Those more present on social media are more likely to report issues such as depression, anxiety and loneliness, as well as aggression and anti-social behaviour.

But did you know, you can ingest every single page you currently follow, without ever posting again and still live a full and fruitful life?

Social media isn’t real life. It contains the worst and lowest of human interaction.

I’m not saying bullying and criticism won’t exist anywhere you post. But you’re more in control than you think.