Build Two Brands in Your Blog and Social Networks

Did you know that 71 percent of bloggers who post for a business have created greater visibility for their companies?

That statistic, courtesy of New York-based research firm eMarketer, means your blog visitors could turn into customers, whether or not you're in the sales department. Your company benefits when you achieve success, even outside the workplace, because your employer is associated with you. (Even those who blog on sites separate from those of their employers generally mention—either in their bio or via a disclaimer—what company they work for.) Yet management's biggest fear when it comes to personal branding is that employees will depart when they become known and desired by other companies. This isn't 1960, however, and administrators should know they can't hold onto employees forever. In fact the average American will hold about nine jobs from the age of 18 to 32, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

If you're an employee, start considering what brand you need to build and why. By focusing entirely on your personal brand, you become unemployable. No company wants a selfish worker who isn't concerned with the business's results. On the other hand, if you concentrate solely on your company's brand, you make yourself vulnerable: If the company dies, you die with it.

Companies need to act more like people in order to connect with their customers. Zappos Chief Executive Officer Tony Hsieh, for example, tweets under his company's brand but makes his posts personal by talking about his daily activities, whether or not they relate to work.

promote yourself and your company

We don't have all the time in the world. There aren't a billion hours in a week, so we can't scale as individuals. When you work for a company, you can scale your time because you have the support of your team. Zappos has a unique company culture in which everyone, from the photo operations supervisor to the CEO, is engaged in online communities with few, if any, restrictions. "The danger comes when an organization's brand is associated with just one person, as opposed to all the employees," says Hsieh, author of Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose (Business Plus, 2010).

What would happen if an employee were more visible than the company—and then left? The company would struggle to recover from the loss. You need to find a happy medium between promoting yourself and your company. The company should respect your commitment to a long-term career, as you should respect that the company is paying your bills and feeding your children.

To formulate your branding strategy, think about your goals in life. If you see yourself spending only a year with your current employer, you're naturally going to make decisions that position you to move to another company or start your own. If your personal mission, vision, and values match your company's, stay with it for the long haul. Hsieh says he's incorporated this idea into his company's culture: "If we make sure that we hire only employees whose personal values match our corporate core values, then every employee automatically becomes an ambassador of the Zappos brand."

Learn the guidelines before you start

If you work for a company that's right for you, you'll go the extra mile to evangelize the brand while developing your career within the company.

Before you venture into the social media world, join communities and start talking about your company. Meet with your manager to learn the guidelines and fnd out how you can help.

If you receive approval, update your social network profile with work-related content, not just personal memos. If you work at a B2C company, you can promote a new product. If you work at a B2B company, you can update your followers on projects you're working on or about accolades you win. This way, you're helping draw more attention to your professional identity while you promote your company. The funny thing is that the more you accomplish at work, the more seriously people will take you when you engage in online communities outside of work.

By creating a win-win situation with your employer, you'll end up making more money, being promoted faster, and becoming better-known in the workplace. You will also safeguard your career by becoming an active voice online and having the public view you as a loyal employee.

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