Chris Brogan, Gary Vaynerchuk and Brand You

What is Brand You? In Morgan Spurlock's TED talk (above), there's one segment in which he goes around and asks people what their brand is. They primarily define their brands by their clothing and hair styles. He also asks the folks who market Ban deodorant how they describe their brand – and they couldn't, mostly because you put their product in your armpits to keep you from stinking (although Axe seems to have been able to define their brand just fine, thanks, even though they're essentially the same product).

So, what is Brand You? If you buy into the whole Fight Club "revolution" of you are not your job, you are not your clothes, you are not your possessions, how do you describe your brand?

Brand Josh is passionate, creative, energetic, hardworking and generally likeable. How do I know? I work hard at being those things. I have a fair bit of self-knowledge because I've worked on it, and I listen to the feedback of people around me.

Which brings me to Chris Brogan's recent post on Gary Vaynerchuk. (Now there's linkbait if I ever saw it: both of them in one sentence?) I've never had a face-to-face conversation with either of these gentlemen, but I think they're both really smart. And I think they're really smart because of what I see of them – the face of their personal brands.

Maybe 10 years ago we didn't think about our personalities as brands, but we most definitely do now. We may have always been selling an image – through our hairstyles, our clothes, our circles of friends, the music we listen(ed) to, the sports we play(ed) – but only in the past few years have we been able to market that image worldwide, and actually been able to make it pay off financially.

So what is Brand You? Are you what you do or what you look like? Are are you how you do? And what of other brands you represent? Can you be the face of a business brand and still have an individual Brand You? (For the record, as a community manager, I believe you can; I may be building a local gym's brand, but I'm definitely Brand Josh both inside and outside the gym's walls and website.)

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3 Social Media Books You Don’t Need to Read but Your Clients Do

If you're reading this blog, you probably fall into one of four categories:

  1. You're into social media in some way
  2. You're a Central New Yorker wondering when I'm going to start writing about Central New York again
  3. I've bought you coffee/a beer/lunch and you feel obligated
  4. We're related

If it's the first or the third, this post is for you. If not, you can wait until next week, when I'm doing a whole week of childhood cancer, because you don't feel bad enough about the world these days.

If you're in category number one, you might remember back in August when Mitch Joel reminded me he wasn't writing for me, but rather for people who weren't already sold on the power of the Internet for marketing.

Here, I'm going to give you three must-reads for people who are slow to get into social media, but that you, the person who is already doing social media well, probably don't need to read.

In fact, if you're doing the consulting thing, every time you enter a contract, buy these books for your client and include them in your price. Also, insist that they read them in this order.

1. Trust Agents by Chris Brogan & Julien Smith. The first thing I like about these two gentlemen is that they walk their talk. This book will explain to your clients why they need to give away knowledge, if not product, for free, and why they need to build relationships, even with non-customers, even outside of working hours. If they're not sold on social media after this book, tell them what Brogan charges after a couple of years in social media ($10,000 for a speaking engagement, $22,000 for a day-long consult). If they're still not sold, exercise your out clause.

2. The Zen of Social Media Marketing by Shama Kabani. My favorite part of this book is that it provides how-tos. Most other social media books talk about how to best utilize the platforms (this one does as well), but this book actually walks you through setting up Facebook pages and the like. And because social media is always changing, Kabani and her staff keep the book updated online.

3. UnMarketing by Scott Stratten. Stratten even tells you in the introduction to this book that if you're already using and succeeding with social media to not read his book. Use this book to reinforce what Brogan and Smith write about. There are more old-media comparisons in this book, which might help the stodgier of your clients think about their practices and the way they behave themselves as consumers. If you have initial resistance, start with this book and have them read Trust Agents third.

I hope that saved you some time.

Notes on Trust Agents by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith

When I wrote about the things I liked and disliked about the Kindle for iPhone app, one thing I hadn't tried was the Notes function.

It's the ability to leave a note in the margin, and stick a Post-It Note on the page so that you know where you left the note.

My brief review on Trust Agents by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith is that it's important for you if you're trying to use the Internet to advance your business, your career, or your brand. I think the same thing about Gary Vaynerchuk's book Crush It.

Both have action items, and both will help you – greatly – if you understand how to apply the lessons these folks share to your own situation. These books have action items, but they are not how-to-become-the-next-Chris-Brogan-or-Gary-Vaynerchuk books. If we all tried to be the next Chris Brogan, we'd have a world full of Chris Brogans and nobody to manufacture car parts or make peanut butter.

Lowell D'Souza gives a brief overview of Trust Agents. Go read the section numbered 1-6 (the rest is D'Souza commenting that the book is so-so, but then, he was looking for a how-to), and then come back.

These are the notes I, er, wrote in the margins.

Action item: Build a listening station. This is a step-by-step list on how to keep track of what people are saying about you or your business. This is not just a matter of running an occasional Google search for yourself; Brogan and Smith teach you how to set up a feed reader and get search feeds from various searches sent to you easily.

You don't have to be born with it. Forget the people who say you have to be born with a talent to be good at something. You get good at something by practice. Sure, chess might come easy to some people, but if the other people work hard at it, they'll do just as well.

Be good to people. Here's a direct quote.

In this chapter, we're talking about taking advantage of systems, not people. People are real, have real feelings, and always deserve respect. Always consider what's right and wrong when it comes to this stuff.

You Win by Having Goals. This is something that I will be working hard on in 2010. I understand the tools, I just have to set milestones that I want to achieve using the tools.

There's plenty of room on the Web. You don't have to directly compete with someone. There is plenty of room out there to work together, or do something similar, or collaborate, but not try to do the exact same thing someone else is doing. Find your niche.

Know which systems are open. Brogan and Smith use Pacman and Ms. Pacman to explain this concept. Pacman is a known system. As boards progress, prizes progress predictably, and a perfect game consists of a set number of points. Ms. Pacman, though, uses a random prize progression – at any given point, you may get a 100-point cherry or a 1,000-point banana (I made up the numbers, don't trash Brogan and Smith for it if they're wrong).

In real life, mastering a closed system (Pacman) means you are the best at something. Cal Ripken Jr? Best at playing consecutive baseball games. Barry Bonds? Best at hitting home runs (steroids or not – he has a number to prove it). But who's best at walking down Main Street in Toledo? It's an open system. We don't even know what being the best at walking down Main Street in Toledo looks like – it's all trial and error, and we're kind of making the game up as we go along.

Action Item: Affiliate Marketing Brogan and Smith outline some affiliate marketing strategies.

Forge partnerships. I don't think this needs any expanding. If you want to know what Brogan and Smith have to say, read the book.

Agent zero. We all have our personalities and roles in organizations. Agent Zero is the person who connects the people who need to know each other. I'm glad there's a name for this.

Maintain relationships. I'm horrible at this. I've been getting better, and Brogan and Smith offer good tips (like pay attention to the birthday calendar function in Facebook).

Yes and. I love this concept. The idea is that someone says something, and you not only agree, but build. An improvised story might start with someone saying, "The bear sat on the sofa and read the sports page," the next person continues by saying, "Yes, and he bemoaned the Giants' season coming to an end." The first person picks back up with, "Yes, and..."

And so, too, should go your discussions about collaborative projects. You build on what the other person says, rather than poo-pooing something that you don't yet see the point of.

Web site and book recommendations. Here are some of the books and sites the authors recommend throughout the book.

Akoha.com (social media reality game)
Spinvox.com (voice mail as text)
Jott.com (speak into your phone, have it transcribed as an email to you)
Kayak.com (travel help)
• Serious Creativity by Edward de Bono
• How to Be More Interesting by Edward de Bono
• The Long Tail by Chris Anderson
• The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss
• The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey

» Chris Brogan on Twitter
» Julien Smith on Twitter

How I use various social media platforms

Or, why I didn't follow you back or accept your friend request.


Something social media networks can learn from libraries: browsing. When you're In the same way you might accidentally stumble across a good book while you were looking for another one entirely, you can stumble across interesting people serendipitously.

The great thing about social media is we all get to use it differently. Sure, various social networks have various target uses, and not every network is for everybody. And, as Buckminster Fuller alluded to, we can't be all things to everyone, and when we try, we end up being very little to pretty much nobody.

For those who are thinking of jumping into a new network – or for those who have jumped and aren't real comfortable – here is how I use various social networks. The way I use these networks may not be right for you, but at least I can put some ideas in your head.

Twitter. I use Twitter the most of any social network. While I don't tweet every time I get up for another cup of coffee, I definitely mix the personal and mundane with the professional and awesome. I've made good connections with great people, spoken to a couple of groups, made new (real-life) friends, found a massage therapist and more on Twitter.

It can be overwhelming, but so can a river. And I wouldn't avoid looking at a river just because it's big and fast moving. If I miss something on Twitter, I miss it. But by and large, I've been happy with Twitter. Here's how I set it up.

I use TweetDeck, which allows me to divide my Twitter stream into columns. On the left, I have the column that shows people responding to me – that way I catch them early, and can talk back. I have other columns for my inner circle of people I want to make sure I catch everything from (or as close as I can get), people who are local to me, people who tweet about social media, and people who tweet about journalism – and then one column with everybody.

As I find another group to break down into, I will create another column (at this rate, it looks like it will be cancer-related topics, since I'm starting to follow people who people might be good to know for the fundraising project I'm working on.

Facebook. I've become particular about who I friend on Facebook. If we're friends in real life (not associates, not co-workers), I will certainly accept a friend request. If it's possible that we could have a friendship or at least a friendly working relationship, I'll probably friend you, and if that doesn't develop, you'll probably fall off during some purge or other.

Facebook has been great for connecting with people from high school. Thanks anyway. If we weren't actually friends in high school, and your name kinda sounds vaguely familiar, why would I want to be your cyber-friend now? For some people, Facebook is about how many "friends" they can amass – I tend to keep it to people I don't mind sharing with, and who I'm interested in hearing from and about.

So don't be offended if you cold call me and I ignore your Facebook request. Get to know me in real life first.

LinkedIn. I use LinkedIn purely for professional connections. If we are currently colleagues, I absolutely will not connect with you on LinkedIn – you don't need to know what I'm doing on the job front, and I don't need to know what you're doing.

On the other hand, if we're in the same industry, I'll accept your LinkedIn connection in hopes that we may be able to someday have a mutually beneficial professional relationship. It's not a place for me to be social; it's truly a professional networking space for me.

Flickr. I barely use Flickr. I've turned to Twitpic, which integrates with Twitter.

What do you do if someone doesn't respond to you, doesn't accept your connection request, or doesn't follow you?

Nothing. I'm confident in what I'm putting out there. If someone has no interest in what I do, that's OK. Other people do.

The one rule I do have, though, is if you Direct Message me on Twitter (which you can only do if the party you're sending the message to is following you), you better be following me back, otherwise, I'm going to unfollow you. Don't try to reach me through a channel I'm not able to reach you through.