It’s Sunday night, and tomorrow I am going to London for the third task of my Rising Stars journey. The whole experience so far has been amazing. I have had my eyes opened to such a vast amount of information, people and experiences. It’s been fast paced though, which is why I’ve had a moment to reflect on the whole thing so far on this incredibly chilled weekend spent with my hubby and family.
So, why am I writing this post? Well, one of the things that I have been introduced to through the Rising Stars competition is Twitter.
On the Twitter Q&A debate last month (one of the competition tasks), we were asked by Asif Choudry of Comms Hero: is it important to have a brand? My answer was that I felt it was more important to be yourself than to have a brand. Asif replied that I am my own personal brand. And this has got me thinking, especially over the last few weeks as my Twitter following has gotten greater and my profile is being raised.
Am I my own personal brand? And if so, why is it so important? I actually think that what is happening in this digital age is bigger than that, and for every bit of good social media does for a person or a company, there is an equal amount of risk.
Social media is a wonderful tool. But like any good tool, it depends on whose hand it is in. Take a hammer for example, you could use it to build a shed or stave someone’s head in; it’s still the same tool.
I will be honest here. I love Twitter. But it’s made me feel a pressure that I haven’t felt before, and that’s not just because I’m in a competition. I have a Facebook account with about 50 friends on it. I used to have around 700 friends on there, but decided that I didn’t want people that I hardly knew knowing my business. On Facebook, I post pictures of my cats, my holidays my silly thoughts, and photos that I find funny. I joked to one of my colleagues that she only survived the Facebook cull because she constantly posts funny cat videos. I also have LinkedIn, where people can look at my professional profile. I want people to see this side of me, so is that my brand?
It’s a long standing joke in my family that there is ‘Public Alice’ and ‘Private Alice’. My older brother tells me all the time that he’s amazed that I essentially trick people with my professional façade. The truth is that Public Alice is my game face, it’s my professional face, because I love my job and take it very seriously. Private Alice isn’t that much different, just a lot more fun. And only a handful of people know Private Alice, because I feel it is important to keep aspects of myself for me and my nearest and dearest. In my job, you essentially have to give a little bit of yourself away a lot of the time. And it’s worth it, because I believe in what I do. But if I’m my own personal brand, how much do I give away for all to see?
So, this pressure I’ve been feeling about Twitter. I have been in Housing for nearly 11 years now, and I have always been very principled in getting to where I want to be on merit. Which is why I’m quite conflicted. Which is also one of the reasons as to why I’m writing this post. I have been given a platform, meaning that some of the industry’s finest can have an insight into my views and opinions. I have to watch my p’s and q’s. And I don’t want to come across as an idiot.
I don’t have a lot of followers, and there’s the competitive part of me that wants as many as possible. But Public Alice isn’t that interesting. Also, how far do I go? Do people want to know what I’m doing all of the time? Do they want to know my thoughts on Brexit, or the Housing Bill or why I decided to wear a dress to work instead of a shirt and trousers? I see other people posting things that are smart, and witty and important, and does it make me look less of a professional by keeping quiet or posting about Derby County losing in the playoffs?
It’s incredibly important to me to have my down time, and the Twitter pressure has kind of meant that I don’t have that as much now. It’s on my phone, so I’ve invited it in to follow me wherever I go. I know though, that as part of the Rising Stars competition, I’ve been given this wonderful gift of exposure to enable me to promote myself, the company that I work for and to portray my passion to a wider audience.
Social media is a tool that is increasingly important. Especially for engaging with people. There’s no doubt that using social media is and will be incredibly effective in promoting housing as a profession, to spread news of the good work we do and to sell homes. But as professionals, we’re giving more and more of ourselves away, and will we be sacrificing too much? We still need to be effective in the day job.
I know that some companies encourage their staff to Tweet about their jobs. My Twitter feed is full of trades staff from Spectrum Property Care tweeting pictures of the great work they do. It raises the company’s profile and it makes for an attractive employer. But what happens if you get a disgruntled employee that goes rogue? Reputation in industry is incredibly important, and someone’s negative opinion is then out in the ether for all to see.
Aligning your personal brand to a company brand comes with an awful amount of responsibility.
A brand is important, but it depends on your audience. I’m pretty sure that my personal brand is whatever I want to it to be. For when I’m at work it’s ‘Public Alice’. But ‘Public Alice’ has boundaries of essentially Monday to Friday. These lines have now been blurred. Maybe I need Asif’s guidance as to how I keep ‘Private Alice’ under wraps. However, she does come out to all to see after a couple of glasses of wine….