Personal Branding on the Social Web
Why, I wondered does Neville Hobson hold his hand in front of his face in the picture on his blog…and on Twitter…and on…hang on a minute.
Is this a subtle form of personal branding? Social networks; Facebook, Linked-In and microblogs like Twitter are growing fast and individuals are, if not clamouring for our attention, at least aware that there is a lot of noise out there. If we are going to build an individual online presence it makes sense to follow some of the tradional rules of branding. Consistency is one, which means using the same image across a range of networks. Using a strong, stand out and easy to remember image is another. Pr 2.0 gurus Todd Defren and Brian Solis both do this - Todd has a cartoon style image on his Twitter feed and Brian uses an arresting image with his specs in the foreground on his blog.
Chris Brogan has just published an ebook on personal online branding so it’s a hot topic. It’s an interesting read and looks at personal branding from a broad prespective. What particularly fascinates me is the way in which people apply the iconographic rules that have histrically been used by brands totheir own images of themselves.
This world has created some rules of its own. Take a look at the picture above of some of the people I follow on Twitter. These images are tiny, smaller than thumbnails, so making something work at this scale becomes part of the art. Colin Byrne CEO of Weber Shandwick and Deirdre Breakenridge author of the book PR 2.0 both use strong purple colours in their backgrounds to make them stand out. Aleks Krotoski , presenter of The Guardian’s Tech Weekly podcast uses a close up of her fire red locks as her Twitter image (fifth row, left of middle).
I have no proof that any of these individuals have done anything other than post the first image they came across but whether by luck or good judgement they all stand out. I have to confess I have toyed with the technique myself. There is a deliberate use of colour in my profile pic and it seemed to me that if social networks use small images an extreme close up might be a good idea. Charles Arthur Technology Editor of The Guardian didn’t agree. He thinks I’m trying to hide a dodgy moustache.