Content Challenges

It takes work to produce any kind of content… period. It takes a lot of work to create good content.

This is why there is such a profitable divide between content producers and content consumers.

Keeping content looking and sounding consistent requires effort.

Producing it at regular intervals requires discipline.

If you’re managing your own personal brand, it’s somewhat easier because you get to pick the stuff you like, but when you’re managing a brand for someone else, it’s not so easy.

You have to use your imagination and take on the role of an author. You have to ask, what would my client’s brand like/choose in this situation?

Authenticity Challenges

Despite the challenges involved in creating branded content, the biggest issue I see is authenticity.

Social media audiences are as sensitive to authenticity as bloodhounds are to blood. If they don’t smell it, they’re off the scent and will stop following.

So the job is really simple.

Just tell a perfectly authentic, never-ending story.

Easy, right?

Ha!

For a personal brand this should be easy… in theory.

Just Do You!… Be Real!… whatever cliche you want to use for “be yourself.”

The people who like your rap, STAY.

And the people who don’t, LEAVE – the perfect recipe for market segmentation.

The thing is, a personal brand is still a manufactured contrivance.

It’s specifically designed to look like it’s not artificial… sort of like a Bonsai Tree or a Zen garden.

It has to be maintained and manicured. How much info do we leave in? How much do we take away?

In real life I suspect most people’s authentic selves are “complex” and full of contradictory impulses.

These can cause cognitive dissonance for an audience following the “story-line” of a personal brand’s output on social media, where it’s rapid fire message after message.

Close friends and family understand our contradictory qualities (or at least forgive them) in the context of a larger story… our life-story. They have had the chance to learn our story over a long period of time… years usually.

Whereas a social media audience is catching the story somewhere in the middle and giving it only the briefest attention. I think this is why traditional branding works.

It immediately allows people to connect the next piece of content with the last piece.

This is often accomplished by maintaining colors, fonts, logos, themes, etc.

But it can also be accomplished by divulging personal details – telling a story.

For example “I had a flat tire on the way to taking the kids to school today. I had to call AAA and wait 45 minutes to get a tow. It caused me to miss an important meeting with a potential client. Damn am I pissed!”

In these (completely fictional) details there are all sorts of hooks for people’s attention/memory to latch onto.

A reader could think, he has kids, so do I. I know how that feels. And on and on with every detail.

That’s why personal storytelling so powerful when you’re building a personal brand.

Colin Theriot, founder of the Cult of Copy has an excellent video on “exformation“, which is directly related to this issue of being an authentic personal brand. Definitely worth the watch.

For me, I struggle to decide how much personal info to include in my personal “business” brand.

Arguably, I could be including more of my personal story in my brand. I’m seriously considering this option, but it doesn’t come naturally to me in any way.

I’m watching several folks who do this extraordinarily well including the likes of @garyvee, @suebzimmerman, and @mollymarshallmarketing.

I think these three in particular do a good job of finding the right balance between being personal and staying on message.

This concept of a personal brand brings up another issue for me.

This is all about business!

No one (at least not many) likes it when someone starts off all friendly and then turns around and wants to tell you about their “great opportunity.” (Sorry, Mlmer’s)

I think a lot of personal brands are faking it to the extreme. I feel icky when I follow them. And that is the exact feeling we want to avoid creating at all costs.

The best path I see is to be very open about your business.

When you go to a store, the store owner behind the counter isn’t trying to pretend he’s not in business. In fact, he most likely loves his business and loves what he sells. So do I!