Is there a right and wrong way to brand your business or yourself online? Most people would say that you should be gaining exposure for your brand any way that you can – that isn’t illegal or anything of course. Another perspective that many people have is that you should never build your brand on the back of your person – meaning your personal online persona.
So, the question is, should you separate your personal and business online personas? It depends on whether or not you are the face of your brand or if you prefer to stay out of the limelight. This is something you have to be brutally honest with yourself about because even though you may think you are the best face for your brand and carry it the farthest, the reality is you may not be. You may even wind up damaging your brand.
If you do opt to be a visible figurehead for your business(es), you need to think about how to manage your personal dealings online. This is tricky for quite a few people. What you do and say online reflects your brand if you link the two together. If you hang around playing games online all day and the world can see this, it’s going to look like you don’t have much going on. They’ll want to know why you have so much time to play around instead of needing to work.
The bottom line is be professional. Keep your personal life and your business life separated, and concentrate on building a solid brand with a great reputation. Think of it like a celebrity in dark shades checking into a hotel under an assumed name. If you were a big company with a hundred employees, you’d care how they acted on the web if people knew they worked for you, right? Your clients likely feel the same way about the businesses and people running those businesses that they transact business with.
Another thing to keep in mind is that you need to pay attention to those who follow you and remember that too much information can lead to people taking advantage. Be careful and remember not to make yourself vulnerable. Remember that the company you keep online reflects on you. People are not always what they seem, and you could end up in an awkward situation wishing you weren’t quite so easy to find. People you associate with could wind up doing things that make you look bad by association.
Keep this in mind – your reputation is all you have. Damage that and you damage your brand and your business, unless you’ve been very careful to insulate yourself and keep all details separate. It is easier to avoid problems than it is to clean up after them – cheaper too. If you are smart, you’ll both keep your nose clean and create a distinct brand that is stands on its own two feet and builds up steadily from a foundation of honesty and trust.