Methods in Maintaining an Effective Online Personal Brand Reputation
By Rocco Bova General Manager, Chable' Resort & SPA | February 03, 2019
Perhaps the ''older'' guys remember some of the very first social media platforms where we used to keep in touch between professionals. One was Plaxo, a sort of digital business card that would follow you and you could update every year with your company name, new title, tel/fax number (yes fax number) and email address.
It was a simple and effective way to follow your colleagues, particularly if you were a mobile hotelier or professional of other industries and see how often one would change job.
Then came Facebook and other sharing platforms, and it changed the way we communicate online, because now not only you can share all of the above information, but also your (social) behavior.
I guess that the Generation X and Baby Boomers (the older boys and girls) have probably had at least two accounts opened and closed.
As life unfolds, mistakes do happen, and pictures get on social media, exposing what one person may not want everybody to see.
So yes, it is a fact that many have been through such a shameful situation like a party between old school friends, a bachelor/bachelorette party or that celebration where you were not 20 anymore but behaving like one……… No comments.
The fact is that once you are exposed there is no way back, or you need to erase that memory before it's too late.
I too had my first Facebook account cancelled, as I underestimated the power of this media and quickly reshaped my online presence by behaving professionally and sharing only relevant information, connecting to people from the same industry and cultivating that ''friendship'' posting relevant and interesting content so that the followers will engage with me and not just add another Mr. Nice Guy.
I personally have three social media accounts, Linkedin, Facebook and Instagram.
Linkedin, which in my opinion is the best for keeping up to date with jobs, old colleagues, industry news and trends and that 10% of gossip or less interesting news that everyone need sometime, is my favorite. I use it daily and share or post content relevant to the hospitality industry or the brand I am affiliated to. I also use it for my own personal branding. Yes, each of us we are a brand and in order to conquer the market share that is of interest, you need to market yourself in the best possible way.
I believe that once you have reached your limit of 30.000 (I hope relevant) connections, you really can reap the benefits of this Social Media.
I subscribed to it a few years after it was born (Linkedin), I believe it was 2005 and been there since. I began connecting with colleagues, then people in my same, at the time, position and passion (F&B), then moved up one or two notches by connecting with Hotel Managers and GMs, continued with HR people and Recruitment Agencies (yes they are the one who will headhunt you eventually) and, most recently with Hotel School Students. The latter are the future workforce and the ones that need to be inspired. Soon I will be employing them and it is important we understand this generation and their expectations, but it is as much important to make it clear what it takes to be a successful hotelier and leader.
It's a shame of some restrictions Linkedin has, for example the limit to 30.000 connections, limit to 50 profiles you can block and groups you can join (although this last one is basically dying). Of course they want you to buy a Premium subscription, so all those limitations are gone.
Despite that and the fact that Microsoft has recently purchased it, I am totally convinced that this platform will continue to be the leader for the next foreseeable future in the professional arena of Social Media platform.
Let's now move to Facebook. This media has been evolving and since the first time I have been engaged to, and today it's a totally different ''monster''.
I am sure you all remember the odd pictures about your life, family and friends and whatever had little or no meaning. Now Facebook is (or has been) changing to another ''personal and company branding'' media BIG TIME.
What I have been doing since I rejoined in 2011, is to connect with people from the industry, this time not Hospitality but the Travel Trade and Press. Why did I do this? Well, the answer is simple, who are the people that sell the Hotel where you work? Who do you want to engage and make public about the latest products and services added to your Hotel or Resort? Or perhaps share with the people that have been to your property about the latest accolades you earned?
Yes, you guessed it correct, Facebook is the right media and more. The power of reaching thousands in seconds is unbelievable and promoting with just few $ can take you to hundreds of thousands if not millions in a blink of an eye.
I discovered too that, differently from the European counterparts (and here I am always referring to the Travel Trade), the Americas users are so much more active on this media. So if your main market is North and South America, go for it all.
Facebook is, by far, the MOST POWERFUL Social Media. So be careful on how to use it for your personal or company branding!
Finally Instagram. Do you want to have my honest opinion? Don't bother. Great for personal life and the so called ''influencers''. But if you do not have more than 5000 (real) followers, will not really do much for personal branding, less since it's now an extension of Facebook (its new owner). Basically, even if you do not have an Instagram account you will be asked to create one with the same Facebook profile and can exchange the same content on the two medias. Will that make a repetition of postings, therefore making one of them, if not both, irrelevant?
I personally feel is a repetition of the same but as it is growing through the Millennials and Gen Z, I guess you have to be there at least for now or until the next new media will come.
I use it much less frequently than Facebook and my content is quite different. My objective on Instagram is to indirectly engage followers with my brand by posting content relevant but not obvious, subtle and nearly invisible, yet connected with what I do and the industry I work in.
All the followers in your network needs to be genuine, relevant and engaged. If you do not achieve this, the results will just be average and your personal (or company) branding will be just wasted time on content aimed to the wrong crowd.
Beware of spammers, hackers and distractors on your social medias. I am sure we all have received invitations from all sorts of people. It's up to you to know which one are valuable, those who can add some benefit to your network and the one who can bring relevance to your brand, only accept or invite those who will actually interact with you and ensure your content is re-posted and shared appropriately.
Focus 100% on relevant content, you will not be disappointed with the results and your online reputation. Avoid time wasters and you to waste time. Invest less time on Social Medias and more focused on your objectives.
In summary I believe that social medias are here to stay for long time at least until we learn how to communicate telepathically or using a droid with AI who can handle all our online interactions. The fact that Social Media are so powerful, is one of the reasons why we need to learn how to manage them well, or else be managed by. Both ways, we will pay (or earn) the benefits. Social Media can be just fun, or well invested time if used to your advantage, for many people it's working very well (I am sure you know that many so called ''influencers'' can earn millions of dollars by just posting pictures or videos on their medias) and it can work as well for you.
The opportunities are there, you will only reap the benefits once you understand how much time you use to interact, the people you connect and engage with and the content posted. This is how you can begin your road to build your own on line reputation.
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