Mark Zuckerberg, gray T-shirts, and personal branding

By on November 11, 2014
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - SEPTEMBER 11: Facebook Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks during the TechCrunch Conference at SF Design Center on September 11, 2012 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by C Flanigan/WireImage)

In his first-ever Q&A session, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg explained away his penchant for wearing gray T-shirts as a matter of efficient resource management.

In his own words, Zuckerberg says he does this to “clear my life so that I have to make as few decisions as possible about anything except how to best serve this (Facebook) community.”

Zuckerberg further mentioned that there are studies that make his style choice a sensible decision. According to such studies, little decisions like what to wear or what to eat, can use up quite a bit of energy and make you tired. This can compromise your ability to deal with more important matters.

Now, although Zuckerberg may well be simply telling the truth, it’s still likely that there is more to the gray T-shirt than achieving greater efficiency.

An article in Forbes quotes personal branding guru and author, William Arruda, as saying  that this practice of wearing a “uniform” can be part of personal branding. “They wear what they wear because that’s what they feel comfortable wearing,” he says. “When you wear something that just feels right, you are confident. And it is also great to have a trademark look. It makes you memorable and distinctive.”

This makes sense, too.

Whichever it is, or it could be both, what is clear is that what Zuckerberg is doing works well for him. It gets him ahead on both the efficiency and personal branding fronts.

This made me think. I asked myself , “What if I applied this same approach to personal branding efforts in social media? How can it be successfully done?”

This led me to these four steps:

#1: Declutter

If you have a lot of social media accounts that contribute little to your brand or which you don’t use at all, list them down and decide what you want to do with them. Do you keep them up for SEO purposes or delete them to cut down on the noise? Letting go of your social media accounts that don’t do much for you is the equivalent of providing an uncluttered showroom for your brand.

As in the case of Mark Zuckerberg, because his personal branding has very little to do with fashion , he did away with the dress style choices. You can do the same for your social media marketing. Ask yourself what choices do you regularly feel compelled to make that aren’t relevant to the achievement of your goals? Identify them and let them go.

#2: Simplify

Communicate your brand message clearly by keeping it simple. Bear in mind though that your simplifying your message does not mean that the message is really simple to begin with. Therein lies the challenge.

To help you with this, you have to know the demographics of your target audience, which social media platforms they’re mostly on, and what they’re passionate about.

You must also know what you mainly want to use social media for in relation to your brand. Are you in it to market? Are you in it offer customer service? You have to figure this out in order to be able to craft a clear, easy to recall, undiluted brand message.

Let’s go back to Zuckerberg’s personal branding messages. What does his gray shirt and hoodie say about his brand when you see him in a sea of suits? Although that getup may have its own set of detractors, it can’t be denied that it makes him stand out in his business environment. It also makes him look like the maverick and innovator that he is. More importantly, his messages speak to his audience.

Check your profile pictures, the pictures you share of you, your content, and other items you share on your social media pages. Do they deliver clear and simple personal branding messages for you?

#3: Focus

Once you have figured out what your core brand messages are, focus on those messages. Don’t get easily distracted by what is popular, what will easily get you more following, and livelier engagement. It’s easy to fall into that trap. It’s good to keep mind that unless the results you get are converted into business for your brand, it’s just aimless chit-chat. Don’t be that guy that people love to talk to but never buy their items from. You need to sell what you’re selling. This is simple enough but oddly not followed enough.

#4: Be consistent

When you have decided on the personal brand messages that work for you, stick to it. Work your content and images around those messages. That will help distinguish you from the rest of your competition as well as make you more memorable.

 

 

 

About John Souza

John Souza is founder and chief strategist of SMMU and Social Media Impact, and is a bestselling business author. He won the 2011 Tech Marketing Awards ‘Social Media Marketer of the Year’ and most recently the About.com Reader’s Choice Award for Best Online Education Site. John has appeared on The Michael Gerber Show, and his business has been honored at the Mashable Awards, Forbes Business Awards and The Stevie Awards.
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