Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you a real-life example of how to destroy your well-cultivated personal brand in ten days or less. Exhibit A: one-time Nickelodeon child-star and modern-day adult walking disaster, Amanda Bynes…
Amanda’s troubles with the law and managing her personal life are both appalling and spellbinding at the same time. In the course of just the past year, Miss Bynes has managed a DUI, two-hit- and-run charges, to bizarrely shave half of her head for no discernible reason, and to tweet cringe-worthy topless “selfie” snapshots of herself. More recently, she’s been arrested for tossing drug paraphernalia out of her apartment window, bad-mouthing five celebrities via twitter, and parading around Manhattan displaying strange behavior. She managed to lose her agent, publicist and lawyer all in the same week.
Bad behavior is enough to fill the gossip pages. But why oh why do we have to live Amanda’s life vicariously on a real-time basis through her tweets, Facebook posts and Photobucket accounts?
You know where I’m going with this.
Not so long ago, the fresh-faced Bynes was a child star on Nickelodeon, the teenage sensation of the eponymous “The Amanda Show.” It’s a media cliché how difficult it is for child actors to make the transition to adulthood – even other childhood stars have come out sympathizing over Amanda’s recent tribulations. But it’s absolutely tragic to see how social media amplifies the tragic overtones of the slow-motion train wreck – and therein lies the cautionary tale for those of us working on a daily basis to build our personal brands.
With a constant deluge of bizarre tweets, the former child star’s personal brand is now synonymous with a whack-a-doo, certifiably crazy-person.
This is the double-edged sword of personal branding. Even one ill-advised tweet can destroy a career. Just ask former Congressman Andrew Weiner. Among many others.
In many ways, your personal brand is one of your most valued business assets—it’s the short-hand for who you are and how you come across to your clients. In other words, it’s an indispensable extension of your marketing efforts whether your business is large or small.
American entrepreneur and business consultant Glen Llopis recently declared in Forbes that personal branding and social media is no longer optional – it’s an absolute necessity, especially when it comes to leadership.
“Having a personal brand is a . . . requirement. It enables you to be a better leader, a more authentic leader that can create greater overall impact. In fact, those who have defined and live their personal brand will more naturally demonstrate executive presence and as such may find themselves advancing more quickly at work,” he said.
Writing in the Harvard Business Review, professor Soutmitra Dutta agrees that social media is essential for those who are or aspire to be leaders.
”Active participation in social media can be a powerful tool—the difference between leading effectively and ineffectively, and between advancing and faltering in the pursuit of your goals,” she said. “You can use this tool proactively… or reactively…”
Dutta and Llopis make a compelling case that social media and personal-branding are no longer ways to simply “show off” —it’s your reputation in digital format.
Your reputation. It is everything in business. So what has Ms. Bynes taught us in recent weeks?
1. Don’t badmouth the competition in social media platform
When businesses try and tear the competition down with personal digs or passive aggressive comments, it comes off unclassy and projects your business in a negative and critical light. Yes, it may be tempting, but just focus on promoting yourself instead of bringing others down.
2. If you wouldn’t show it to your grandmother, don’t post it
Remember that you’re conducting a business, whether it’s promoting yourself or your company. Make sure you come across appropriate to all audiences.
3. Don’t forget: you’re always representing your personal brand wherever you go.
Whether you’re in a business meeting or out and about on a Saturday night, remember that you’re name is attached to your business. You should always do your best to carry your brand with pride.
It’s unlikely Amanda Bynes can rehabilitate her tattered reputation any time soon. For the rest of us, therein lies a lesson – once the bad reputation genie is out of the bottle, it’s virtually impossible to get it back.