Branding Yourself

For nearly a year I’ve been blogging almost exclusively as a “mom blogger” and during this time I’ve learned a lot about social media, branding and networking that can benefit archives and libraries.  Archives and libraries, like many mom bloggers, tend to view themselves as “just moms” who blog for free products, a few links and the promise of traffic.  However, more and more mom bloggers are beginning to see the value in what they do and how their words can either help or hurt a company.  If you pay attention to social media, you’ll see how many companies are starting to court mom bloggers and hire them as brand ambassadors, consultants and social media professionals. Anyway, back to the topic at hand ~ did you notice the keywords here?  They are:  value, hurt and help.

Archives and libraries need to take cues from mom bloggers and put themselves “out there.”  So how do mom bloggers do it?  They:

1.  Know their worth – Some mom bloggers have started to profit from their services.  They know that their voices carry weight and companies are starting to recognize their power.  And like mom bloggers, archives and libraries need to recognize the power of their voice.  We offer free services and in this economy, people love free.

2.  Market their services – use Twitter and Facebook, create a blog, etc and keep it current.  Mom bloggers post on average three times a week (some post once a day, some several times a day)  Too many times I see blogs, Twitter accounts, etc started by libraries and archives but not maintained.  Use these FREE services to promote your services.

3.  Engage the community – If you look at some of the mom blogs, they actively engage their readers.  They ask them questions and they respond in the comments (often times following up with email).  Some moms have even created communities around their blogs so they can get to know their readers.  Similarly archives and libraries need to talk to the people in their communities and find out what they want from the library and then supply it.

4.  Brand themselves – I recently had a travel mug made with my image and the name of my blog on it and I use it everywhere (I’m a BIG coffee drinker).  People are always asking me about my mug and my blog.  If you promote your services and engage your community, people will come.  Every library and archives has a mission statement, use that mission statement to create a tagline and then promote, promote, promote.  Put your tagline on t~shirts and offer them as prizes for kids in summer reading programs.  Or sell travel mugs or flash drives with your logo on them.  People will be proud to carry your products if you are serving them well.

5.  Have fun – One thing mom bloggers seem to do a lot of is laugh.  Even when their kids are ripping off dirty diapers or eating dog food, they’re laughing about it.  When patrons walk into your library or archives make sure your staff looks friendly, there’s nothing more intimidating than having to ask for help from someone with a frown on their face.

When I signed up for Twitter 2 years ago, I wasn’t really certain what I wanted to get out of it.  I just knew that as a librarian, part of my responsibility was to keep up on current tech trends (yes, we do more than help you find books) so that I could assist patrons when needed.  Therefore, my first forays into Twitter were pretty tentative.  I tweeted just enough to make my presence known but I didn’t think I really had anything all that clever to say (especially not in 140 characters or less).  Over time, however, I built up a reputation and created some incredibly strong ties with different information professionals then my life changed…

I became a stay-at-home-mom and part-time History Instructor.  This change led to a shift in my perception of myself and how I self-identified.  However, it never occurred to me that my life change would impact how others viewed me until I read Naomi Trower’s post about Twitter Lists.  So I started paying attention to how people listed me and it got me to thinking, is this how I see myself and is this how I want others to see me?

I’m listed 93 times with a majority of the lists having to do with being a “mommy blogger”.  Hmmmm….  Not a bad thing, just an interesting twist.  Does this mean that the time that I took to cultivate my reputation as a librarian/archivist is gone?  I don’t think so.  I hope not.  My hope is that my mom blogging friends and my information professional friends will see my domestic and my research skills and recognize the value in both.

When I created my lists, I started by thinking about how the people I interact with influence me.  I thought about where I’m most likely to encounter that person and went on from there.  Hence, snazzy list names like “Hiding in the stacks” (my library and information professional friends) or “At the cafe” (people I’d like to share a coffee with) or “In the gym” (people who inspire me to get healthy)….

What about you?  What do your friends’ Twitter Lists say about you?  How did you go about creating your lists?  Is there a way that you want to be listed?  Have you even thought about the way people list you?

Your Personal BrandThe other day I was thinking about changing the name of my blog or, more specifically, dropping the “Curious Child” portion.  Why?  Because this is not a blog about being a children’s librarian or anything remotely having to do with children.  I don’t even like children.  Just ask my, um, children.  I also want the blog title to reflect other aspects of my job.  I am the University  archivist and an history instructor as well as a librarian.  But, ugh, coming up with a title for all of that?  Who has the time or the energy?  What with the children and all?

So how did I come by the Curious Child thing to begin with?  Long story.  And I really hope this does not lead to a lawsuit by His Royal Purpleness (because I so totally heart him and it would kill me to think that he thinks this is anything less than flattery).  Anyway, I had registered for a course on social networking with Meredith Farkas through  InfoPeople and as part of the course we had to set up a blog.  At the time, I was seriously going through an I-love-Prince-so-much-I-can’t-stand-myself phase so I decided to put my celebrecrush out there and include it as part of my blog title.  I honestly had no intention of keeping the blog or having it develop into what it has become (a place for me wax poetically about all things library related).  But I have kept the blog and it did grow into something more than I expected.

So skip ahead and I am now wondering Who am I?  Not just who am I as a person, but who am I as a professional and is this an image that I want to maintain?  Honestly, I think it’s a bit late to think about changing everything (again with the whole time/energy thing and my lack there of) so I did the next best thing, I changed my tagline.  It now reads:  “Random musings on my life as Queen of the Histolibrarianivists.”  And I think that about sums it up. I’ve made a change without changing the brand that has become me.

I didn’t consciously go about developing a personal brand, it just sort of happened.  And now that I am aware of me as a brand, I want to make sure that I am careful about cultivating and maintaining my image as both a professional and as an individual.  There are a variety of tools available for helping you to monitor your brand and see how others view you.  Try them out and see which ones work best for you.