Let me just kick off this post by saying that I was born in the late 60’s. I grew up watching Soul Train and American Bandstand. I remember when Michael Jackson had color and MTV actually played music videos. Can you believe that? I’m an X’er (Generation X’ers are those born between 1965 and 1980).
Fast forward to today and I’m growing a new brand as a business coach. The world is different and the branding rules certainly have changed from when I launched my first business back in 2000. These new rules of branding can create frustration or stress for so many of us who now have more complicated lives (spouses, children, saving for retirement, etc.).
This point was driven home when I was talking to a dear friend, who just happens to be an X’er like me and a business owner and in frustration she exclaimed,
“I’m so tired from driving the kids to dance class, getting dinner on the table, and trying to figure out how to get the kinks worked out of my client’s project that it’s taking all my energy to be authentic and vulnerable today!”
We’re both trying to build our brands in a time when in order to be seen in an ever crowded field of entrepreneurs, the common advice we get says “all you have to do is just be authentic and vulnerable”. By this they mean sharing snippets of your life on YouTube videos, impromptu Facebook Live videos, and Scopes (as they refer to Periscope) about topics aligned with our brand. Or endlessly tweeting about everything we’re doing. And not just the periphery stuff either, but the name of our dog, and the toys our dog likes to play with, when we go for walks with our dog. Our dog is a part of the brand story. Hell, he’s a brand celebrity to millions of followers on the “Insta” (that’s Instagram for you old foggies). If this all feels overwhelming for a generation who didn’t grow up with social media, that’s because it is. Many of us X’er with businesses these days balk at the notion that we have to load apps on our smart phones like Periscope and Blab in order to grow a successful brand. That we have to be seen so its imperative. It doesn’t matter if we went to school and got multiple degrees and then slaved away to gain experience for almost two decades to gain mastery in our field. We’re actually suckers because so many can learn everything on “YouTube University” and have million dollar businesses. Heck they skipped college altogether, and with a laptop and a dream did it for themselves. The advice we get tells us the only credibility we need these days is a large number of followers or “likes” on social media, a landing page and a good story.
I too was in awe of these branding rules. For a time I even tried a few of them out. I fired up my laptop, designed a nice website and then tried to tweet, shoot videos, and some of the other stuff I saw these new generation of millionaires doing. They made it look easy. But in short order I realized that I didn’t have the time, energy, or the inclination to build my brand that way. I had client’s looking for their projects and they didn’t care if I had 10K followers on Twitter (I don’t by the way, not even close). But the issue at hand for so many mature, educated, experienced and talented X’ers is, how do you build a brand using these new tools when we’re the ones who were taught that it wasn’t good to put too much of your “business” out there? In fact, we were told that it just wasn’t smart.
Am I missing something here?
So I ask you again, when the hell did the rules of branding change on us?
I remember listening to a Spreecast one evening from a pretty successful millennial and he was giving advice on how to grow your brand using Twitter. He said he did his own research (he’s not a researcher but he tracked it for a month) and found that if he posted at least 5–10 times a day; in the morning, during the day and at night he saw his retweets and engagement increase. The more he posted, the more his following grew. Everyone of the Spreecast hung on his advice and I saw people agreeing and commenting that they were going to try it. All I could think of was “when do these people work?” After a few more pieces of advice along this vein, I left the call. I realized that there was no way with my client load that I was ever going to be able to post on Twitter that often and still be able to finish my projects. But I’ve thought about it a lot. He’s very successful. He’s got lots of followers on Inst, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. He’s getting national appearances on morning television and offered TV shows. He’s doing something right, for him.
Maybe the new rules just sit uneasy with us X’ers because all this oversharing creates anxiety for us, because we just don’t feel good enough using it. This stuff doesn’t come natural to all of us. We kinda feel like frauds because we’re adopting technology to build our brands that was not a part of our lexicon. We feel like idiots creating videos with instructions provided to us by a generation who are very comfortable with this stuff and sharing every aspect of their lives. I’m in my 40’s and I don’t want to feel like I have to micmic someone that’s in their 20’s.
Yeah, maybe that’s it!
Whatever it is, it feels uncomfortable and downright weird, but those of us who want to grow our brands, do it, relunctantly.
So your typical day is…. Mediatate/pray, write in our gratitude journals, check Facebook in the morning, get our kids off to school, workout, go to the office, post to social media, meet with clients or work on our projects, try to post to social media again, pick up our kids, go to soccer practice, make or grab dinner, host a webinar or mastermind, check email, work on new projects or blog posts, post to social media one last time, meditate/pray, fall into bed exhausted. Wake up the next day. Repeat.
Is this the wonderful #workfromanywhere and #locationindependent lifestyle that everyone is selling these days?
The truth is, its hard to grow a brand no matter what generation you were born into, but its gonna feel downright painful if you try to use tools and methods that you’re not comfortable with. What I’m learning is that no one has the magic formula to what will work for me. I have to use the tools and strategies that I love and fit with my life. I can only be me so I got the authentic thing down pat, and I’ll post when I have time and say what I feel my audience can benefit from. It’s not calculated, its genuine. The main rule I now recommend in branding is that you have to find what works for you and what you love doing, whether you are an X’er like me, a Baby Boomer or a Millennial. One size does not fit all and that’s what makes being an entrepreneur one crazy and fun ride!