As I stumbled across a New York Times article about blog topics, it got me thinking…
As I was thinking, I saw a topic that might be “blog-worthy”. It is an article by the NY Times asking college students if they see themselves as a having a digital brand. Here is an excerpt:
“NY Times: Tell us what you think about the idea that Millennials are basically aspiring entrepreneurs whose approach to self-expression, creativity and social change is writing a business plan. Does this describe you and your friends? Do you feel as if you are always selling yourself, or see yourself as a brand? If so, how would you describe your brand and your goals? If not, how would you characterize yourself and your generation?”
After reading this, it really got me thinking about my own brand, and the goals I have set for myself, so I want to take a shot at answering these questions:
We live in a world where technology can connect complete strangers with the click of a button, and where networking and professional development can be enhanced through social media platforms such as Twitter, LinkedIn, and countless others. The NY Times wants to know if Millennials see themselves as aspiring entrepreneurs? I think the answer is complicated, but in short: Yes, and no… Some, in the traditional sense of the word, may aspire to own their own business, but what I think this question is far more complicated. Self-expression, creativity, social change, and one’s identity are all facets of a brand. Almost all Millennials are on Social Media, and have created various accounts to connect with their friends, family, classmates, and even their bosses or professors. Upon the creation of a Facebook or About.Me account, a student is inadvertently creating a brand for them self, whether they intend to or not. All someone has to do is type their name in a search engine, and all of the profiles or accounts a student has created (assuming they use their real name) will appear. This is the creation of one’s digital identity – The personal brand, persona, or representation of one’s self via social media.
A digital identity is, in my opinion, what this NY Times question is alluding to… When on social media platforms, students can express themselves in creative ways, in order to make a statement; align themselves with a group or belief; share information or their whereabouts; or to explain their mood, feelings, thoughts, reflections, or frustrations. This creative expression most certainly creates an online persona that is representative of the individual. This persona, brand, or digital identity, whether accurately or poorly portrayed, can have real life consequences or effects on that individuals life, so it is important for the Millennial generation to understand this, and seek to represent themselves in positive ways.
The repercussions for presenting a negative digital identity can be serious… The loss of a job is one harsh example that is a real life consequence of a negative online persona. Complaining, posting inappropriate pictures, using dirty language, and having a negative disposition can all have lasting effects on one’s reputation. I am unsure if most college students are aware of the implications their digital identity can have on their college and professional careers… Take a look…
YES! No matter how much privacy we THINK exists, employers and colleges are constantly looking up applicants to see how they rank amongst the competition, therefore, you are ALWAYS selling yourself and your brand!
You’re every bit as much a brand as Nike, Coke, Pepsi, or the Body Shop. To start thinking like your own favorite brand manager, ask yourself the same question the brand managers at Nike, Coke, Pepsi, or the Body Shop ask themselves: What is it that my product or service does that makes it different? Give yourself the traditional 15-words-or-less contest challenge. Take the time to write down your answer. And then take the time to read it. Several times.”
If all students thought this way BEFORE posting that rant, or frustrated empty threat, what would life be like? For one, a lot more of them would have jobs! Second, maybe not as many judgments would be made about them solely based on the postings they author. It is so important for college aged students and young people to be aware of the ever-lasting impact their digital identity can have on their future…
Some questions to consider: