Viewport width =
April 29, 2013 | by  | in Opinion |
Share on FacebookShare on Google+Pin on PinterestTweet about this on Twitter

Fixing Your Life (Because Ours are Written Off)

Hi Hector, Janet –

How do I establish and curate my ‘online brand’?

TY, Off-brand Brandon



Hi Brandon,

Look, I can’t fault you for thinking about how you’re putting yourself out there. A ‘personal brand’ is really good to be mindful of, because we live in a world without walls. It’s not easy to compartmentalise your message, and in an era where information is power you have a big advantage if all your ducks are in a row. Okay, full disclosure, that may have been the most overcomplicated and wanky thing I’ve ever written, but who are you to talk? You just asked about your online brand.

I can only assume that the discussion around personal branding started out heavily in ‘ironic’ territory, but it can’t have been long before those hipsters started to realise that unity of message was working pretty damn well for them. What I was trying to say in the opening paragraph is that when people can quite easily find literally everything you’ve ever said about yourself online, it’s better to have thought about it in advance and take positive steps to ensure you’re only putting your best foot forward.

The thing is, though, there’s no objectively right way to do that. Every single person is unique, which is why it’s known as a ‘personal’ brand. Don’t focus too hard on looking bland and safe—that takes all the fun out of it. Instead, take pride in what you’re putting online. Remember that every time you hit ‘send’, you’re putting out a brand new press release with your name stamped right on the cover, forever. That isn’t a bug or a feature, it’s just the way it is. So long as you’re just being yourself, you shouldn’t have anything to hide.

Not that you shouldn’t be careful. If you are worried about a flighty comment getting out there and causing irreparable brand damage, consider posting it under a pseudonym. Come up with a great online handle and make it your own. Think about keeping your last name out of things, and scale back your Facebook visibility.

In the end, it really does come down to being aware of what you’re putting out there. I can’t stress that enough. Keep that in mind, and you’ll do great.

Loose tweets sink fleets,



Hi there,

It’s great that you’re looking to consciously present only a certain side of yourself to your online friends and followers: God forbid we put the entirety of our misguided, sloppy selves into the ether. I’d say: firstly, decide on your avenues. Facebook seems unavoidable, if only as an event-management mechanism, or a register of anyone who’s ever felt an earthquake. Twitter, in my opinion, is higher-risk but higher-reward. A shy, mild-mannered, self-described online branding magnate friend of mine tells me that Twitter is a place for jokes that are objectively good to get favourited and retweeted, whereas recognition on Facebook depends far more on the joke or observation made coming from a person that you like. As for LinkedIn, there’s always some ‘friend of a friend who randomly got offered a great job’, but I can only ever imagine myself joining it drunkenly or ironically. If drunkenness and ironic intent are your only two reasons to do something, don’t do it.

Identify where you think things are at. My personal online presence is a mixture of puns, my family’s antics (the aim of which is to present us as Emma Stone’s family in Easy A), and references to whatever television show I am watching at a particular point in time and/or Love Actually. I also recently achieved my long-time goal of an ostentatious “I just booked some flights somewhere, wah00!” status. So that was good.

People understandably want to display themselves in flattering light. It’s not always possible. Shoot for the moon, but know that if you miss you’ll still end up in the cloud. If you’ve achieved something, go ahead and document it publicly. If you’re a cynic or a critic, make sure that when your feed explodes with everyone talking about the same thing you can deadpan something like “insert acceptable liberal opinion on rights issue here”. By all means, doctor the photos you’re tagged in. (Or your friends’: see – old but good).

By way of quickfire: try to shape your woes as “charming” and “akin to overcaffeination” rather than “pathological” and “earning you three ‘hope you’re okay!’ texts”. (Think “I hitched up my tights in front of New Zealand’s Chief Justice today” as opposed to “Just cried three times at work, lol.”) Be political if you like, but have a sense of humour. Don’t take things too seriously and hit Shift+Enter in the comment box to adequately paragraph your response. Turn off whatever satanic Instagram setting it is that posts your rain filter selfies simultaneously to Facebook. Do not update me on your gym activity, post nothing but <3 to your boyfriend/girlfriend’s wall or tell me when you have assignments due. OH. ALSO, ‘your’ means ‘belonging to you’, and ‘you’re’ means ‘you are’.

Onward and upward,

Share on FacebookShare on Google+Pin on PinterestTweet about this on Twitter

About the Author ()

Comments are closed.

Recent posts

  1. Dirty Money, Clean Woman
  2. Dear Nathaniel
  3. The Social Lives of Group Chats
  4. We Don’t Do Vegetables
  5. Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men
  6. Audit – Law Revue
  7. The Last Supper: VUW and VUWSA on KJ
  8. VUW’s Own Gloria Fraser Develops Queer Mental Health Resources
  9. Issue 21 – Default
  10. Biophilic buildings— ‘The living pā’ complex

Editor's Pick

Uncomfortable places: skin.

:   Where are you from?  My list was always ready: England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, puppy dogs’ tails, a little Spanish, maybe German, and—almost as an afterthought—half Samoan. An unwanted fraction.   But you don’t seem like a Samoan. I thought you were [inser

Do you know how to read? Sign up to our Newsletter!

* indicates required