Personal Branding Trends For 2010

Personal Branding Trends For 2010Personal branding is not a new concept, but it’s something small business owners and marketers have to pay attention to now and certainly through 2010.  Your brand is your clear differentiator and your competitive advantage.  It’s also the first impression you have with potential customers and the source of attachment you create with your current customers.

Over the past few years, we’ve seen personal branding become more and more important because of the pressure of the economy and through the rise and acceptance of social media technologies for both business and personal use.

With a 10.2% unemployment rate across the U.S., we have to stand out and become more exceptional in what we do.  Aside from competition, business is being shifted into new territory.  Instead of traditional transactions offline, we are starting to use social networks for business more and more.  For instance, Facebook, with 325 million active users, has been turned into a money making empire.  In previous years, the company was laughed at for not having a business model, much like Twitter was earlier this year.  It’s now obvious that readership and engagement amounts to big money.

So without further ado, here are some personal branding trends to watch out for in 2010:

1.  New content models are on the rise

Content, such as the articles you find on Small Business Trends or Anita’s podcasts, is made freely available across the web.  In many instances, this makes a lot of people stop paying for content because they can access free content on any topic they desire.  A recent Forrester report stated that 80% of U.S. consumers won’t pay for online content.  Another survey by BCG showed that for online paid subscriptions, the most people will pay is $3 per month.  What this tells us is that the personal brands of 2010 are going to be built through a different model, based on consumer demand, the endless supply of content and the free distribution systems we all have.  The more people that know about your brand (free content), the better, but since you have to make money, the options are freemium (having some free content and then some paid content), advertising or selling products and services on your site.  News Corp’s Rupert Murdoch has even announced that all of his media properties will be blocked from Google spiders next year.  2010 will be the year of the major content shift, new business models and the fall of many media properties.  You can benefit from this by turning your corporate site into a media property.

2.  The year of building lists

2010 will be the year of small businesses developing and building upon their lists, including email and blog subscribers, Twitter followers, Facebook fans, LinkedIn contacts, etc.  A survey by VerticalResponse, Inc. shows that 74% of small businesses plan to increase email marketing and 68% will increase social media marketing.  More and more small businesses are viewing social media and email as an important way to build lists of people interested in their products and services and then to convert them over time.  We’ll see this more next year because of the competition and the understanding of how these tools can be used to support overall corporate efforts.

3.  A saturated web

Most small businesses have websites, but the world is forcing every single person to have their own website.  A lot of business owners have ignored their own personal brands in the past because they feel that their brand might conflict with their company’s brand.  In 2010 and beyond, everyone in every company (anyone with a pulse) will have a website, typically under  Right now, there are over 1.3 billion internet users, with 200 million websites and there will be a 40,000 fold increase in websites in 15 years.  There are incredible disadvantages to ignoring the explosions of websites and blogs, such as lack of online visibility.  Next year, there will be a lot more websites because of this.

4.  Reputation management fatigue

Over the past few years, it’s been a best practice to review online brand mentions using a variety of tools, such as, and  With more and more consumers making decisions based on what they find online, small business owners are going to have to set time aside every single day (not every week or month) to review comments said about their brands.  According to a survey by the Opinion Research Corporation, 84% of Americans say online reviews influence their purchasing decisions.  In 2010, reviewing comments isn’t going to be good enough.  Brands will be forced to react to brand mentions in order to prevent negative word of mouth.  There will be victims and there will be winners next year.  Those that invest more time protecting their online identities will succeed.

5.  Transparency will rock your world, literally

The truth about you and your company is going to come out next year, whether you like it or not.  Search engines are starting to blend with social networks and status updates are being made visible and accessible just about everywhere on the web.  This poses incredible opportunities but also some threats that you will have to be aware of.  Every single time you publish a tweet, it will appear in Google and other search engines and, with your permission, it can appear on LinkedIn, Facebook, and other places like Brazen Careerist and Ning networks.  This is starting to occur because it’s a revenue stream for social networks and because the “real-time web” makes search engines more relevant to the end user.  When consumers start trashing a brand (such as yours), it might make the first page of your Google search results and damage your brand.  This is something to really pay attention to in 2010.

6.  Brand realization

A lot of people don’t have a deep understanding of what their brand really is.  What’s starting to happen is that your online audience is giving you feedback, without you even realizing it.  For instance, Twitter lists are really personal brand categories.  If someone puts you in a list of influencers under a certain topic such as “personal finance,” then they are giving you a hint about how you’re branded.  People will make categorization decisions based off of two things: your profile and your tweets.  When you’re on a hundred of so lists, then you have great survey data that will show you if you’re branding yourself properly or not.  More brands will start using tools such as to figure out what their brands are and get feedback from their audience if they are doing a good job.

7.  The cream will rise to the top and niches are inevitable

I introduced this post by talking about competition and then went on to explain how the free nature of content destroys barriers to entry and creates an ecosystem of unlimited choices.  Well, the truth is that not everyone will be able to become mega brands.  Those that have the best content next year will float to the top, while everyone else will make less money and have fewer opportunities.  What we’ve already seen is that the first-movers, such as Anita Campbell and Pete Cashmore (of Mashable) have owned their niches.  It will be much harder to compete with big brands, which means next year the focus will be on niches and “hyper-niches.”  People will have to really narrow down their market in order to stand out and succeed.

8.  The value of information will increase substantially

If you aren’t in tune with what’s going on in your industry and with the latest technology developments, you are set to lose out next year.  Have you heard of  If not, then you better Google it right now.  Are you reading at least 20 articles or blog posts each day?  If not, then you better start because you’re competitors are and they are forming relationships with the media and bloggers as we speak.  By not keeping current and not being open to new trends, you’re going to be in a world of anxiety in 2010.  The business world is moving too fast and if you can’t keep up, then you’re out of business.

9.  The video and mobile scene catch fire

According to “The Global Web Index,” from Trendstream, with research conducted by Lightspeed Research, early this year 72% of US Internet users watched video clips monthly.  You might have seen your favorite show on or watch music videos on YouTube before, and that’s where a lot of the action is now.  Video is the most powerful personal branding medium because it closes the gap because between knowing of someone and actually meeting them.  In business, this is called building trust and a connection with your audience.  Text and audio doesn’t have that type of impact, which is why video will be a huge trend next year.  607.5 million mobile users will be using social networks by 2013, which means that businesses will have to start making their websites mobile friendly.  It also means that a lot of branding will be viewed and spread from one mobile device to the next.

10.  You will be judged on voice, not just your resume

Most people judge others by their resume.  A resume is an account of what you’ve accomplished in the past and an attempt to show a prospective customer what you’re capable of in the future.  Sorry to say that a resume won’t be powerful enough to build your brand in 2010.  In addition to all that work experience and all of that credibility you’ve built up, your online conversations will be just as valuable.  If you don’t blog or comment on blogs or at least update your status on social networks, then you won’t be perceived as a valuable contributor.  Your opinions and thoughts is what people will want to hear in 2010 and beyond, not just previous projects that get outdated really fast.

* * * * *

Dan Schawbel: Personal Branding BlogAbout the author: Dan Schawbel is the bestselling author of Me 2.0: Build a Powerful Brand to Achieve Career Success, the owner of the award winning Personal Branding Blog and publisher of Personal Branding Magazine.


40 Reactions
  1. I think you are right on! This was a very solid outline of trends, the growth of transpaency, and the need to niche well. The web continues to grow as a interconnected billboard that allows the global community to watch and listen in our your collective web communication. I call it your “web footprint”. You must monitor, expand, and strategically extend your web footprint or (1) someone else will speak for you or (2) you will be left behind!

  2. Excellent list. This vision for the future of the web gives valuable insight as to how to respond and prepare for new business growth in Internet solutions.

  3. To all of you that read this post and feel overwhelmed, don’t despair. Just take it one step at a time. You don’t need to attack Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc. all at once. Start with one profile, fill it out completely and update it regularly. Then add another one. Add 3 blogs to your RSS reader. Keep up with them and add a new one occasionally. Consistency is more important than quantity.

  4. I appreciate this value-packed post, but what’s with the image of a woman about to be burned by a clothes iron? Surely a better “personal branding” image pun could have been chosen.

  5. All great points. Corporations can no longer ignore what is happening out there, they need to observe, listen, learn and improve – if some do not, they will fall down, and as you mention, the cream will rise to the top.


  6. Dan,

    This is a great article and one every individual should read and take into consideration about their own personal brand for 2010 and beyond. Thanks for the great insights!

  7. You’re the man, Dan. One caveat: The value of GOOD information will increase substantially — you don’t want to end up on the marketing douchebags blog.

  8. Dan,
    Fantastic post. Thank you so much for doing this for the Small Business Trends community.

    You know how important personal branding is to the “King.” Right?

    The Franchise King

  9. Dan,

    Great action list. Have you got your .name site yet? I see that Shashi Bellamkonda, Social Media Swami at Network Solutions, has a personal site

    I had to test MustExist list tags service. I agree with the outcome! 🙂

  10. For those looking for some practical tips on implementing some of Dan’s excellent recommendations, I’ve written a detailed article about how to “Create a Compelling Resume Online With WordPress.”

  11. Great article and timely for me. On item #1 you are not quite accurate, the willingness to pay for content in the study referenced is in regards to NEWS and MAGAZINE type of content, not all types of content. Paid subscription to content is growing in the area of Personal Development and Personal Learning. Thanks.

  12. Great post. Knowing that businesses need to adapt to an entirely new world in marketing, how do they do it, and still have time to run their business. We believe that social marketing and content distribution has to be integrated into a businesses workflow to be successful. Think about it as a system and opposed to individual pieces. We published a free ebook called “Disrupted”( that you can get at our website. “Disrupted” outlines 5 actions steps to take right now to win in this new environment. Hope you enjoy it…and wishing all a very happy and successful New Year!

  13. Excelent post with a lot of interesting references! I work with retail and franchisors in Spain, and the big new for them is that the future is like you draw on your post, while then have hundreds of stores with thousands and thousands of consumers. So the management of their own consumers is a big opportunity for all franchisors and for a lot of small retail chains.
    Best regards from Spain!

  14. Thank you for this excellent information. I shared it with my PR clients and other business associates, because I have no doubt that it will help grow their businesses.

    Best regards!

  15. Thanks for sharing these great insights.
    It should be taken into consideration by all Business owners to keep creating a brand that is worth raving for! These are crucial factors to contemplate on.
    Establishing a Brand is a Crucial factor in a Business, however this element is eliminated when buying a well known and established franchise as it already comes with its own brand awareness, a system and territory.
    The franchiser can often help with finance, computer software and business methodology, providing all the help you need to run your Franchise successfully which is basically a no-brainer for you.

    The risks of establishing your own business are considerably reduced by buying a well known and established franchise as it already comes with its own brand awareness, a system and territory, and the franchiser can often help with finance, computer software and business methodology, providing all the help you need to run your Franchise successfully.

    With thousands of proven Franchise Opportunities available, there has never been a better time to look at the options.

    Visit to see many opportunities available from nearly every industry.

  16. Great article…businesses need to pay attention and begin moving forward if they haven’t already joined the conversations!

  17. Regarding #3 (over-saturated web), no matter what your branding strategy, if no one visits your website (I totally agree everyone needs a site), then it’s like a tree falling in the woods. Who hears your branding message if they never make it to your url?

  18. Two things really stood out to me here: 1) I’ve got to get my podcast and video presence going, and 2) I’ve got to continue to fine tune my niche/s. Thanks for very insightful comments, Dan!

  19. Great points. Its no longer acceptable to ignore social media in marketing yourself and your business. Everyone will need help in this area and the more information out there, the easier its going to be.

  20. Very comprehensive list. Good points to put into action.

  21. Small Businesses should need to think about Branding because people are becoming more and more brand conscious and they should have proper plans to attract customers to their brands.

  22. Good article! Timely and right on target!

  23. dan, great stuff!
    these current times are a real test for entrepreneurs and business owners out there. just starting abusiness is not enough. you hav eot put in the time to create your brand and fine tune your marketing to survive. its survival of the fittest – darwins theory in action.
    matty patterson.

  24. This is great advice to help us keep in touch with the changing market and learn new strategies. Many people do not think to make it a priority to keep up with the times and adjust the way we do things. Glad to have found your site. Feel free to visit mine as well!

  25. Andy - Personal Success

    Keeping it personal by branding is what it takes in todats world. You need to shine Brightly. With personal branding you can do just that. Personal success will follow.

  26. Great article!

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