Toronto Metropolitan University
10-1108_JPBM-03-2019-2299.pdf (257.61 kB)

You are a brand: social media managers’ personal branding and “the future audience”

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journal contribution
posted on 2024-03-25, 19:14 authored by Jenna JacobsonJenna Jacobson

Purpose: Social media management is an emerging profession that is growing as companies increasingly adopt social media. The purpose of this paper is to analyze social media managers’ personal branding.

Design/methodology/approach: In-depth qualitative data is drawn from 20 semi-structured interviews with social media managers and supported by three years of orienting fieldwork in Toronto, Canada.

Findings: Social media managers are responsible for managing and executing organizations’ brands and presence on social media and digital platforms. As lead users of social media, social media managers provide critical insight into the emerging practices of personal branding on social media. “The future audience” is introduced to describe how individuals project a curated brand for all future unknown and unanticipated audiences, which emphasizes a professional identity. Due to workplace uncertainty, social media managers embody the mentality of being “always-on-the-job-market”, which is a driver for personal branding in their attempt to gain or maintain employment.

Originality/value: While personal branding is largely discussed by industry professionals, there is a need for empirical research on personal branding that examines how various employee groups experience personal branding. This research fills this gap by analyzing how people working in social media brand their identity and how their personal branding is used to market themselves to gain and maintain employment. The development of “the future audience” and “always-on-the-job-market” can be used to understand other professions and experiences of personal branding.




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