I haven’t experienced a more concrete example of the low cost of interaction on the web than two responses I received from people that I recently wrote about. Ryan Holiday and Gary Vaynerchuk both replied soon after I published my posts. I shouldn’t be amazed by this, but I am.
An orthodox branding approach, when considering your name as a brand, is to create a blog and only interact with those who visit. This is the blogging equivalent of spawn camping. This is also a poor marketing tactic if your goal is to create and interact with a readership.
Unorthodox branding is to monitor mentions of your name across the web. It’s to pursue and engage those who have taken the time to share their thoughts about you. It’s recognising that this is word-of-mouth marketing in action.
We all have the opportunity to appear benevolent, and invested in the success of our personal branding. It’s acknowledging that you’re being spoken about online, and maintaining a dialogue with these people. It doesn’t matter whether they’re speaking positively or negatively about you. That you’re willing to take the time to engage, to create a dialogue, signals your investment in personal impression management. Few achieve notoriety for being an asshole – and even he’s embracing openness now.
I experienced some negative personal feedback earlier in the month. I wrote a review about an Alchemist show that I attended. Within a few days, it was picked up by the local metal community. The discussion made a few small waves before I became aware of it. You can read about it here. My response was concise, accurate and timely.
You could argue that it’s only a bunch of metalheads – who cares? That response momentarily crossed my mind as I read through the initial discussion. However – I care. It’s my name. It’s my brand, far beyond my responsibilities as a music critic. I will outgrow that role: my name will endure.
Nobody is more invested in the creation and maintenance of your brand than you are. If you’re not going to market yourself, it’s rare that others will do it for you. You’re your best marketer.