5 Easy Steps to Failing at Personal Branding

I have been building my online personal brand for about 18 months now (I have been building my professional offline brand for over 20 years) and I am still shocked at what I see in social media; particularly as it relates to personal branding in the social media space. 

To me, these are some of the worst offenses:

1)      Using social media as a toy—many people get sloppy when they use Facebook and Twitter.  At worst they play games, post bad photos and use foul language or at best they waste people’s time by announcing that they are mayor of some city in Foursquare and/or  generally provide useless information

2)      Focusing on the sale rather than the relationship—whether it is following someone on Twitter, inviting someone to be part of your LinkedIn Network or “friending” someone on Facebook, you are doomed if you start the conversation off with a sales pitch.  The only person you are likely to attract and convert that way is someone like yourself…not your prospect.  You have to be patient and build the relationship first, the sale will naturally follow.

3)      Lacking commitment or better known as the invisible man/woman—once you have started providing meaningful content, people look for it.  You will appear to be flaky if you constantly start and stop.  You need to be all in or nothing in this game I am afraid.  Take it from me…I started and stopped and had some “splaining to do…”

4)      Being a meformer and not an informer—if you focus on providing people you’re your wisdom and valuable content, you are golden in social media.  If you are just talking about yourself and how great you are (or worse, your company and the products and services it offers), you will get nowhere in social media or worse yet…tuned out permanently.

5)      Being a mindless broadcaster—nothing I hate more is someone who retweets items without checking to make sure the links work.  I am sure to never look at that person’s stuff again.  Also, it is not an effective strategy to send 20 tweets in a 3 second span and then not tweet again for the rest of the day/week.  Unless the people you are trying to get the notice of are on Twitter during those three seconds, they are likely to miss your “wisdom”.    You need to have a strategy as to when you are going to post things in LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.  And that strategy needs to align with when your targets are present on social media.

Hey no one is perfect, especially on social media.  But, that doesn’t mean that we should have a “devil may care” attitude about it.  Like any other branding or marketing plan we put in place, you need a strategy.  A strategy you can consistently apply and to which you are dedicated.

Happy Marketing!


16 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Aurora Maldonado on February 28, 2011 at 10:43 am

    Very Informative! Thanks! 🙂


    • Posted by sharonmarkovsky on February 28, 2011 at 11:06 am

      Thanks for the comment! I try to provide fresh and useful content as often as possible. Glad this one was useful for you.



  2. Hi Sharon,
    While I agree with most of your points, I would like to add something to your last one about broadcasting. If your audience is global you need to use an automatic system to post while you are supposed to sleep and your audience wakes-up. However Social media experts also suggest that 1 tweet survives one hour maximum. The dilemma I have is this : if the system posts when I sleep it looks like I am not actively involved in a conversation and my timeline will show several identical tweets posted every 2 hours or so. Not a good impression! Ideas to solve that problems are welcome !


    • Posted by sharonmarkovsky on February 28, 2011 at 11:05 am

      Thank you so much for your feedback and your discussion issue. I am with the experts in that you need to make sure that your tweets are monitored and answered in a timely manner. That being said, I have to believe that your customers and prospects understand that you have to sleep at some point and that some tweets are going to be “scheduled” for audiences that are in you “sleep time” time zones. This is how I look at it…if scheduling tweets is okay for Guy Kawaski…it’s ok for me. But I would love to hear other people’s opinion on that!

      Thanks again for your comment and great issue!


  3. I like your comments Sharon. The one I have the most difficulty with is #3 – being committed. As a self-published author, I’ve been building my professional brand for several months now. I also work full-time and find that when I tweet, blog, ect. it’s on a part time basis. I try to be consistent, but have a tendency to be sporadic.


    • Posted by sharonmarkovsky on February 28, 2011 at 2:54 pm

      Thanks for your comments! I totally understand and can empathize with the “sporadic” postings. With everything I have going on, I just can’t blog more than twice a week. And, I just can’t seem to commit to a particular day on which to blog…though my preference is tuesday and thursday. I try to keep everything in perspective. As long as I am committed to providing content, I will get there.

      Keep up the great work!

      Thanks again for your comments!


  4. I like your answer Sharon: if it is OK for Guy Kawasaki…. Very funny! Would love also to hear others’ideas. Thank you for your great blog! Anne


  5. Hi Sharon, great post. I think that personal branding is the key to modern marketing, even huge organisations are driven by and judged upon the individual personalities of their founders. Authenticity also seems to be the only way forward and social media is brilliant at uncovering those who fail to use it to genuinely share ideas and make connections. I wrote about it here http://justifieddesign.wordpress.com/2011/01/17/authenticity-is-the-green-you-cant-buy/

    Cheers, Nick


    • Posted by sharonmarkovsky on February 28, 2011 at 2:46 pm

      Thanks for comments! I totally agree with you on authenticity! I loved your blog post! Dr. Bret Simmons at University of Nevada Reno (UNR) once told me that you can’t fake caring…on the job and in social media. It is so true!

      Thanks again!


  6. Yes!! I love this Sharon. Keep up the great work. Bret


  7. Great post, Sharon! Your personal brand is the promise or expectation you set with others, and what they can expect from you. Bravo for your authenticity in sharing these ideas with others!


    • Posted by sharonmarkovsky on February 28, 2011 at 8:48 pm

      Thank you so very much for your comment and kind words! They mean a lot to me as you are the consummate personal and corporate branding expert!

      I have worked hard to stay true to my personal brand promise and expectation on all social media platforms. I am glad that my efforts are paying off!

      Thanks again!


  8. I have started social media and creating a personal brand since December 2010. The 5 points you stated brought awareness to steps I need to make sure not to do if I want to continue a successful personal brand.
    I was hoping you could expand on point 2 & 4, isn’t important for a business to be a meformer and tell followers their abilities, skills, and products?
    Thank you.


    • Posted by sharonmarkovsky on March 5, 2011 at 9:02 pm

      Hi Trisha! Thanks for the kinds words. The issue with 2 and 4 has to do with focusing on the relationship and letting the sale happen naturally. I am not saying that people shouldn’t expect to sell through social medi. But what I am saying is that if you focus your message, particularly on twitter, on selling your company, you will get ignored on social media. People don’t like to be “sold”…particularly through social media. The key is to strike an appropriate balance. There is a way to incorporate the sales message into an informational message…I would lightly sprinkle it into your blog. The key to the blog and social media is to position yourself as an expert. Once you get them sold on your expert status…they will call you. And, the sale can be made.

      Thanks for the question!


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