| Branding, Social Media

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Today’s post is written by Sarah Lougee who works here at Visible Logic. Sarah helps us with a wide variety of tasks: Nearly everything that is not specifically design.

Social Media BreakfastThis morning I attended the Social Media Breakfast here in Portland, Maine and Peter Shankman was the keynote speaker. I have been using HARO, and generally following Peter for quite some time, so I was thrilled to get the chance to see him in person. As I was looking around for a place to park, I passed him walking towards the venue. He looked, well, downtrodden. I knew that he just got back from his honeymoon, so I chalked it up to that I’m-back-from-vacation-and-it’s-such-a-drag thing. But during the introductions from sponsors and the talk from the other speaker, I was watching Peter, and honestly, I thought he looked miserable. He didn’t appear to be listening or even trying to pay attention. At one point he got up and left the room to take a phone call, and when he came back he kind of hid in the doorway out of sight of the speaker. I felt my admiration begin to slip a little. Maybe he’s not what I thought. Maybe he’s going to turn out to be just another jerk who’s really good at self promotion.

Then it was his turn to speak. I instantly saw that this was his thing. He was funny and engaging. He told jokes that we could all relate to, he swore like a regular person, and he made fun of himself just enough. He did all this while making completely valid points about social media and marketing, like that helping people is the new self promotion. He talked about how if you have to tell people how awesome you are, then you aren’t. That really resonated with me. The balance between self-confidence and arrogance has always seemed especially tricky to me. He talked about how the nature of customer service is changing; how now it’s not the number of contacts/friends/members you have that’s important, but what you can do for them. If you focus on doing amazing things for the ones you already have, they’ll always refer you and get you tons more business. And on the flip side of that, no one will ever recommend someone that they’ve had a negative interacton, or worse-no interaction, with. I liked his views, especially when he stressed, over and over again, that you must brand everything you do, or someone will claim it as their own.

What I realized after it was over was that Peter perfectly illustrated to me his own points probably without even realizing it. Coming into the conference, I had a totally positive view of Peter, but as soon as I saw him not acting the part, I was ready to cut him loose. I saw him as a brand, and when his actions didn’t match my idea of the brand, I was ready to not believe in it. Luckily I got the chance to see him in action and was able to get back on board with him, but what if I hadn’t ? I would have been done with Peter Shankman, maybe even HARO. And what if the other conference goers had the same experience? That could have a serious negative impact. Being true to your brand, and following through with the new rules of customer service is key to maintaining and growing your customer base.


  1. Peter | July 5, 2012 at 11:32 am

    Hey there, Sarah – Thanks for the post…

    I looked at that morning a different way. I’d gotten there around 7am, hadn’t had coffee yet – Hard for anyone to be that happy and cheerful pre-coffee 7am.

    When I left to take the call, I came back and, if you remember, was sitting in the front – Didn’t want to insult the speaker twice by walking in front of her, so knowing she was almost done, I waited by the door as to not take attention away.

    Either way, glad you enjoyed the talk – You should have come up before it started and said hi – You would have known a much happier Peter than the one you thought you saw pre-speech. 🙂

    I think the most important question, however, which you left out, is this? Why didn’t I get to hold ONE DAMN PUPPY the entire morning?

    Thanks for coming,

    -Peter Shankman

  2. Emily Brackett | July 5, 2012 at 1:34 pm

    Welcome to our blog, Peter! I appreciate your taking the time to comment. I’ll let Sarah reply to your thoughts.

    But I wanted to say that it is hard in this era of “personal branding” and never being able to disconnect, to maintain our “idealized self” at all times. Especially at pre-coffee 7am.

    -Emily Brackett

  3. Mike Maddaloni - @thehotiron | July 5, 2012 at 2:07 pm

    Hi Sarah:

    When I read this, a couple of people popped into my mind – Charles Barkley and John Hannah. Let me explain.

    Charles Barkley’s favorite quote, “I am not a role model” fits. Where admiring Sir Charles’ basketball ability is one thing, looking at him as the perfect person is something we should not. Regarding Patriots Hall of Famer John Hannah, years ago I was parking my car in a garage in Boston around 6 am just as he was. It was too early for anyone, even him, as he was trying to manuever his briefcase and a cart of boxes to the elevator. The last thing I was going to do was bother him and tell him I was a fan in this circumstance. He was the same John Hannah he would be later that day, but we are all human, and it’s hard to be “on” all the time.

    Next time, maybe Peter should come by the dog-friendly Visible Logic studios?!


  4. SarahLougee | July 11, 2012 at 2:48 pm

    Thanks for the comments! I realize that no one is able to be “on” all the time, especially so early in the morning! What I really was getting at was just the importance of the brand itself. It drives nearly everything.
    Anyway, it was a great talk, and I really appreciate getting to see Peter in action.


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