A Problem With Twitter Chats?

Photo cred: Lise

Who owns a community on twitter? No one can moderate it so does anyone really control it?

After participating in #blogchat last weekend, I read a post from Mack Collier. The comments held a lively debate. I suggest you read a bit of the comments, but the basic argument was this:

Mack commented on the issue of people coming and tweeting out links to their posts using the #blogchat hashtag without really participating in the chat.
Ryan, one of the people Mack quoted in the post, contended that a hashtag isn’t “owned” by anyone. He was using the tag to reach people he thought would find those posts useful. There is no “wrong” way to use a hashtag.

As a fellow chat founder, I understand how Mack felt. He loves his community, and hates to see it mistreated. Still, I realized that our chats are run on a hashtag in a completely open forum. You can’t prevent someone from using a hashtag however they want. No one owns a hashtag.

If someone wanted to start a blogchat today, and say that it’s a hashtag used to share blog posts about blogging, there’s really nothing, the original blogchat community, could do about it. Same for #u30pro…same for any other chat.

Personally, I love that people share good posts in the #u30pro feed throughout the week, as long as it’s not spammy. But really, there’s nothing we can do about it.

Gathering around a common interest is great on twitter. But for large, organized communities, is twitter the best option?

My Problem with Personal Branding

Beard Branding

Personal Branding is misleading.  It is deceiving.  It focuses on creating awareness of your self and manipulating the perception that others have of you in order to make it seem as valuable as possible, regardless of whether or not you are in fact, valuable.

A harsh exaggeration? Perhaps…but while this may not be how everyone approaches personal branding, but by the Beard of Brogan! some certainly do.

Alliterative “Anchorman” references aside, lets look at Chris Brogan.  Now lets look at his goatee.  It’s magnificent isn’t it? It radiates success.  It’s obviously where he derives his power.

Therefore, if you were to grow out a goatee similar to that of Chris Brogan’s, you would obviously be perceived to have the same amount of value that he does. Correct?

Ridiculous.  That thought is completely preposterous but scarily relevant.  People think that if they fit the look of a social media expert (there isn’t one), slap “social media expert” on their bio, start regurgitating the things they read on other professionals’ blog on their own blog, communities and message boards, that they’ll have created a powerful personal brand and will be successful.

It gets even scarier when other companies or community members actually buy into that crap.

Personal branding is important.  It’s important to be consistently recognizable on platforms across the board.  It’s valuable to be recognized for your talents.  Your reputation is a vital aspect of your career.

My problem with personal branding is what many have made it into.  A shortcut.  A manipulative success tactic.  A way to make yourself look more valuable than you actually are.

Dan Schawbel, in a LinkedIn discussion on personal branding, said that “[your personal brand] should be determined by you before you even participate in a community.”  I think describing personal brands in this manner is dangerous, because it assumes you can choose your personal brand, rather than earn it.

The key to Personal Branding isn’t what you say about yourself.  If you provide value in your words and actions, and make it very easy for others to recognize that value, across the board of tools, communities and anywhere else you are present, you will have established a strong personal brand.

It’s not the beard that makes Chris recognizable, its Chris that makes the beard recognizable.

Ultimately, your actions will determine how your personal brand is viewed by your community.  To determine your personal brand before you participate in a community is to assume you can manipulate the community’s perception of you to be something other than a representation of your actions.  If you provide value, isn’t your only goal with personal branding to make your community aware of your actions?

It’s not your personal brand that makes you valuable. It’s you that makes your personal brand valuable.

Important Disclosure: yes I have a similar facial hair situation to Chris Brogan right now…but he obviously copied me…and I’m obviously just trying to get onto Stuart Foster’s next beard post.