Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Personal Brand

by: J.H.

I was surprised to learn how common sponsored content is, but suppose it is not something I have ever given much thought.  Sites like Buzzfeed do have a lot of sponsored content, which I have noticed but never really considered past that stage.  Many posts I have seen, such as lists of "best places to live, work or visit" are often sponsored by companies looking to expand their brand.

Sponsored Content

Best to define sponsored content by what it does, not what it looks like

The American Press Institute says, "It is best to define sponsored content by what it does, not what it looks like."  This is an interesting thought, as sponsored content can appear in many different forums and can look like many things.  Anything from a sponsored news article to a Facebook or Instagram post by a company can promote its message and can be considered sponsored content.  I think the approach of the Supreme Court of, "I'll know it when I see it," is best considered when thinking about what is and is not sponsored content.  Sponsored content is not dictated by its platform, but by its content and message.

I also found it interesting to note that there are not necessary specifically set rules that posters must follow, but that much of the regulation is left to self-governing and best practices.  This is ideal, and I must say that most of the sponsored content I have noticed was clearly marked, but I wonder what may have slipped through the cracks and left me with the impression that it was not sponsored content when it really was.  Most content that is sponsored, that I have noticed, includes a thoughtful disclosure and also often a link to read more information.

This week I have reflected a lot on my personal brand as I am engaged in an active job search.  I am active on LinkedIn, following companies of interest and adding connections when appropriate.  This is a helpful professional tool and my favorite social media platform.  I am also vigilant about what Facebook shares with the public, including my picture and some other limited information.  Beyond these platforms, google reveals a news article where I was quoted in a previous job and some other information, mostly from paid sites regarding family history and sites that disclose information about my past employment in the public sector.

While we can control our LinkedIn profiles and Facebook pages, we all must be vigilant in conducting frequent google searches for not only our names, but also our email addresses to be sure we are aware of what prospective employers may see.  This blog, for example, is public and shows up in searches.  While the information is not on the syllabus, the first Voicethread post discloses that fact.

Our personal brand is important, and essentially everything we publicly post online becomes a part of our personal brand and is our own personal sponsored content.  Only through vigilant observation and proactive searching can one take the necessary ownership and control to be sure that his or her own personal brand is thriving.

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