Lately, I’ve been hearing a lot of talk about “personal brands.” People who want to gain online credibility are encouraged to treat themselves as brands and their content as products. They adopt marketing strategies similar to big corporations and try to convince people that what they have to say is worthwhile. All of this is very concerning to me.
I am not a brand. I am a person. I don’t have an expensive logo or a witty catch phrase. I’m not trying to “sell” my thoughts, opinions, and beliefs to anyone. I’m not trying to establish myself as an online authority on anything. I don’t spend hours a day thinking up ways to get more people to pay attention to what I have to say. I’m just trying to share my life with people in a meaningful way.
I think seeing oneself as a brand threatens that. If all you’re doing is trying to gain as many followers as possible, then you’re going to end up selling out and just sharing whatever you think will draw attention to you. That’s not what social media is about. Too many people get caught up in the statistics. They live to reach the next big goal in their quest to gain as many followers as possible. Personally, I would rather have a few followers who are actually interested in my life than hundreds of thousands of people who could care less who I am.
The truth is that things are changing. People—my generation, at least—are getting tired of corporations telling them what they should do or think or buy. We live in a world of Kickstarter and Indiegogo, where creators don’t go to big corporate sponsors to support their creative endeavors. They go to the people who really, truly care about what they’re doing, the fans, and they find the support they need from them. This system really empowers the everyday person to have a say in what gets made and how it’s made. It’s really incredible.
I know this change is slow, but I see it happening. As people get more and more tired of traditional marketings schemes, companies are having to change their tactics. And all the creative commercials in the world aren’t going to change the fact that people want something more than that. Eventually, companies are going to have to offer something substantial. Maybe they’ll actually offer better products or more ethical practices. Something real.
Because that’s what matters. And that’s what social media should be about. Marketing techniques aren’t going to change the world or people’s lives. But real people sharing their lives, their interests, their thoughts, and their experiences with others in an honest, open way? That could make a difference, and that’s something worth following.
So you won’t be seeing any advertisements from me. And I won’t spend hours and hours strategizing how and when I’m going to use social media. But I will be sharing my life with you in the most real, honest way I know how. And if it makes a difference for a person or two, that’s enough for me.