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Budweiser and Target Implications for Individuals Online Branding

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Have you heard about online branding travails of Budweiser and Target? We won’t get into that here. But, there are implications for individual job seekers, virtual business owners and marketers. Those of us who are trying to build and grow an online brand.

The next time you think about setting up your personal, professional or business profile, know that your social media identity has a global reach. Its more than hanging a sign outside of your ‘brick and mortar’ restaurant, retail or service business. It broadcasts to the world who you are.

As we know this, those working from home, small online retailers, online business marketers are impacted. So too are remote jobseekers searching for a remote job working from anywhere and digital nomads. We are tempted to throw caution out the window, use sensationalism, and make claims for which we know we do not have the resources to meet.

Discordant virtual and actual identities

Past research has shown a lack of congruence among virtual identities that we present on the internet and our actual personalities.

Almost 15 years ago,, found research from psychologists and sociologists who studied social media habits of users posting to major platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, and dating sites to find “little correlation between how people act on the internet and how they are in person.”

This article serves to help remote workers and virtual business owners develop an online presence ethically and responsibly. How great are the temptations? Just think of all of the people we can reach. The endless job possibilities and business opportunities. The audience we can influence. And, the products and services we can sell. The money we can make.

Interconnectivity between virtual and actual identities

Even though there was little association between what internet users posted online in comparison to their real selves a number of years ago, due to the growing interconnectivity of virtual and physical realities; its difficult now to separate the two.

Studies have been undertaken at Cambridge’s Psychometrics Centre, to reveal that our social media habits can uncover key personality traits. Data mined from social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, Instagram and Pinterest can extract and compose a fairly accurate psychological profile on the targeted individual. 

Potential employers and prospective clients can find out with just your personal handle and professional profile url whether you are intro/extroverted, if you are emotionally stable, whether you are narcissistic, or Machiavellian.

They can also get really pissed when your brand doesn’t really match who you are. Or, then again, maybe a Freudian slip reveals your true nature?

This is why it is really, really important to be consistently above board, positive, and ethical in all of your internet chats, SMS, exchanges,  likes and dislikes. Even the anonymized dark web isn’t as secretive as it was twenty years ago.

Infinite market abundant of potential employers and buyers

Zippia produces global estimates that 62% of the entire population of almost 5.0 billion people  are connected to and use the internet. The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) projects the following statistical breakdown of online internet usage by country:

  • China, 730.7 million
  • India, 374.3 million
  • United States, 246.8 million or 307.34 according to more recent data from Zippia
  • Brazil, 122.8 million
  • Japan, 116.6 million
  • Russia, 108.8 million
  • Mexico, 73.3 million
  • Germany, 72.3 million
  • Indonesia, 65.5 million, and
  • United Kingdom,  61 million

As so many people are using the internet and the marketplace is so vast, it begs the question, “why do we use the internet?”

Your brand must authentic, trustworthy and filling an unmet need

First, while the market appears to be unending, no one likes a scammer.  Or someone or company who purports to be something they are not.  You’ve got to be authentic. Regardless of the region, continent, country or municipal locale.

No potential buyer or employer seeks to employ someone lacking the skills for which they present to hold, or buyers willingly engaging in a money losing venture, or  business partners voluntarily involving in a reputation destroying fraud. No one. hard stop. period.

And, not to mention, who in the world likes to experience ‘buyer’s remorse?’ No one, I take it. You buy something that is advertised to represent one thing or support one message, then low and behold, you open the UPS package and you get something else. You definitely don’t want a disgruntled former client on your tail! The internet is replete of negative comments, product and service reviews. Even boycotts no doubt of major brands and companies.

Second to this over-arching fact,  people who seek to build a personal, professional or business brands can not escape the requirement of filling an unmet need. This is the second rule of business which is equally applicable for remote job seekers. For instance, Oberlo cited research posted by DataPortal that posed the top uses of the internet. These statistics emerged.

Top uses of the internet
Top uses of the internet

Reasons internet users gravitate to the web

As you can see, by far, ‘finding out about new information, remaining in contact with family and friends, and remaining up to date on current events,’ represent the top three uses of the internet. What is interesting about this chart however is they key verbs that can be gleamed from this data that can then be used to make inferences. Users of the internet use the platform to:

  • find information
  • keep up-to-date on current events
  • research ‘how to do’ stuff
  • find inspirational ideas
  • research new products

Implications for online marketers and remote job seekers

In summary, one can surmise that the internet, then, is used as a repository for obtaining information that is relevant to our daily lives. You may ask yourselves, “why are these statistics important to me?” Well, it gives you clues as to how to frame your social profile. You can use your profile to help internet users address the key challenges in their lives.

  • be a source of new information
  • help make complex information understandable
  • link historical information to current events to give perspective and new insight
  • explain from your expertise how to do something that others may find difficult
  • give inspiration, encouragement and impart positivity
  • describe innovative products and services

Monumental shift in perspective required

Getting back to instilling trust, remote job seekers, freelancers, virtual business owners, and marketers seeking to establish an effective brand online need to make a monumental shift in perspective. How? By changing the framework of communication from “here’s what I sell,” to “here’s how I can add value.” From “here’s what I need to get from the buyer,” to “here’s my offering.”  From “here’s what you can buy from me,” to “here’s how I can solve your problem.” From “here’s the price of my goods and services,” to “here’s the value I bring to the table.”

When we make this change in our perspective, we no longer are tempted to make sensational claims, overpromise and underdeliver, pad our resumes and fake our references and accomplishments. The focus is on the potential client, the prospective employer,  and the eventual  business partner’s needs. Not on us. Get it?

Now that we’ve discussed the philosophical underpinning of this article, let’s turn to real world applicability.

Based upon the information we’ve provided above, we are giving you a few success tips for branding yourself online. Regardless of what niche you’ve chosen, it’s important that you learn how to establish your brand  and effectively communicate your brand online in a virtual environment.

Ask yourself “who am I?”

What are your unique skills, interests and abilities? If you are unsure, take a free personality assessment. What are your favorite colors or animals? Many believe that preferred colors and animals hold hidden meanings and can unlock the key to our subconscious. Taking a quick 5 minute test may help you to figure out who you are without delay. How are you best able to communicate what you can provide and how you can help others if you can’t first effectively answer the question, “who am I?”

Often when clients are dissatisfied or an employee receives an unsatisfactory performance review, or fails to pass probation; its not because they intentionally meant to perform below expectations. What probably happened was that they hadn’t fully conducted a self assessment or properly evaluated the unique services they can bring to the table. And, they failed to position themselves accordingly.

Create a slogan that defines who you are

Branding yourself in your niche or area of expertise can be as simple as creating a slogan or a tagline that allows others to easily recognize you. As you desire to want your ‘brand’ to be viewed as the top authority, don’t forget trustworthiness is key. You want to be the go-to guru in your field, so choose a brand wisely.

Identify keywords

You can start by coming up with a few keywords that people already associate with your business. Look over what words are driving traffic to your site. Do visitors happen on your site after searching for words like ‘dog training’ or ‘caring for pets?’

If you don’t have sufficient website traffic to view the analytics yet, then try looking over some of your past job performance reviews. What were some of the adjectives used to describe you? Resourceful, independent, yeomen, for instance? You may also consider asking family and friends you have had deep relations, to ask them which words they use to describe you and/or your business. Once you’ve come up with words describing your online presence, look for an easy-to-remember tagline.

For instance, if you run a parenting website that also discusses frugal living, you could brand yourself as the frugal mom shopper.

Share your brand’s keywords, tagline and slogan with others

Once you’ve come up with a slogan, keywords, and tagline that you like to describe yourself as an expert in your field (remote job seeker, freelancer)  or your business, start sharing it with everyone.  Use it on your signature line for all of your outgoing emails. Sign your blog posts with it. Use it on your website. Instead of having an about page, try having a page on your website ‘about the frugal mother.’ This provides you with one more way to brand yourself.

Businesses use this technique offline as well. For example, you’ve heard the phrase ‘Finger lickin’ good’ used by Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC)  restaurants. They wouldn’t say, ‘passably good chicken.’ Who’d want to eat there?

Endeavor to be Memorable

In all of your physical and virtual interactions and presentations, dare to be memorable. In the book, “Make yourself Memorable,” the author, Stephanie Sherman puts it this way, use the ‘Memorability Formula= Style x Substance x Timing.”

She defines style as the manner in which you present yourself. Substance, she writes is the ‘prerequisite for gaining attention.’ Substance (knowing yourself, your service, your skills and experience) is the element that will generate long lasting interest in you. Optimal timing is maximizing upon the periods in which the receptivity to what you are offering is most likely to be highest.

Share your talents and a helpful resource

Brand yourself by building an audience that views you as a helpful resource. In so doing, they’ll help spread the word about you, too. Word of mouth is very powerful in branding, so treat every prospect well.

Write or re-post informative articles

What ever your profession, if you are seeking a job in a particular industry, peruse journals, magazines, newsletters and the website of your profession’s associate. Read the articles posted by other experts and post an insightful comment. Even if you don’t feel that you have the talent or skills yet, you can still post ‘this is an interesting article.’ You may also want to add how helpful the article is to job seekers searching for an entry-level position or post how in reading the article it provided information advice similar to the recommendations received from an in person mentor.

If you’re pursuing the idea for authoring an article yourself  or re-posting, make sure that you add a short professional biography that mentions your slogan and your website. This biography should be the same for all of the articles so that visitors begin to recognize your name and associate you with your brand.

Go to forums and reply to questions seeking answers

Another helpful suggestion is to visit industry specific online forums such as Discord, Reddit and Quora.  Respond to posts seeking answers to questions. Or, you can simply comment on the ways in which a specific commenter helped to solve a challenging problem. Don’t forget to add your slogan to forum (Discord, Reddit, Quora) signatures. While you may have heard that no one likes a braggart, in the case of online marketing and establishing an online brand, it’s not only acceptable to promote yourself, but it’s a way to be remembered and rise to the top of your niche.

If you’re pursuing the idea for authoring an article yourself  or re-posting, make sure that you add a short professional biography that mentions your slogan and your website. This biography should be the same for all of the articles so that visitors begin to recognize your name and associate you with your brand.

Brand yourself by guest authoring to an already established audience. Find a blog that’s similar to yours and offer to write a guest post. You can use one of your articles as a forum topic as well. Forums often rank high in Google because like blogs, they are continually updated. If you brand yourself as an expert, people will begin to think of you as one.

Post work samples on your professional profile and website

While informative articles can help establish you as an expert in your field, examples of your work are equally impressionable. Therefore, post and/or link work samples on to your professional profile and upload to your website.

Upskill with online courses

Even if you have yet to be gainfully employed in a particular segment for which you are seeking work, enroll in online courses and take the initiative to teach yourself marketable skills. The finished work product and or certificate should be posted also on your professional profile and website.

Seek out references and positive reviews

Yes, that’s right. We can’t let go of the need to be authentic and trustworthy. These factors we mentioned at the beginning of this article. Remember, communicating, selling and buying goods and services online as well as hiring someone you’ve only met virtually takes a certain level of trust.

As virtual business owners, online marketers and remote job seekers, we need to take an enormous amount of effort to assuage the reservations of others. What this means is that we need to constantly seek out references and reviews attesting to the high quality of services we provide and the expert advice we give to our clients. When we do this effectively, its like karma, double blessings and restoration. What you sow will always come back to you doubled.

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