Personal Branding Matters
Updated: Feb 25
Branding matters, period.
All the more so for content creators in this increasingly competitive and challenging industry, where the obstacle to working with brands is beyond superficial numbers. As brands develop smarter and more adaptive strategies of engaging content creators, considerations includes synchonicity with brand's values, audience sentiments and the true influence-strength of a content creator.
At the start of the decade, we also found ourselves looking into another aspect on the importance personal branding for a content creator: riding out scandals unscathed (emphasis).
In mid-January 2020, beauty & lifestyle darling Sharifah Rose found herself in the middle of the storm when social media saw the wildfire spreading of her image without hijab while travelling internationally with her friends. Criticisms poured in like rush hour traffic on Federal Highway, for taking off her hijab.
So, we thought we do a bit of listening on the noise and impact of this scandal affecting Sharifah Rose - afterall, our COO Joanne Chen has negotiated hard for an amazing package with Meltwater's listening tool. Here's what we got.
We tracked a total of 62,000+ social mentions relating to key phrases associated with ‘Sharifah Rose’. This is consistent for when there is a sudden spike of social mentions (be it negative or positive) of any particular content creators.
The scandal on Sharifah Rose first broke out in 22 January 2020 but social mentions/conversations peaked only the day after. Thereafter, conversations surrounding her dropped significantly, which could be attributed to several factors:
Although netizens tend to extrapolate negative conversations of public figures, the content/context of this conversation is not sufficiently significant to ‘drag’ the conversation along
Although Sharifah Rose does have a strong following of more than 600,000 followers, it must be recognised that her influence is still mostly confined to digital and hence, her popularity to the mass audience (which includes offline audience far and wide across Malaysia) is less significant to be compared to a celebrity
The presence of a major headliners quickly turned conversations to more festive-related content (ie. Chinese New Year) or international news focus (ie. Coronavirus outbreak)
At the end of our 1-week tracking period, Sharifah Rose was no longer trending in Malaysia’s (Twitter) search and tweets have dropped to a recorded 40 tweets only (29 January 2020).
What we can see, take, and learn from this is the short-lived nature of negative press on a content creator’s reputation. While hijabis-found-free-hair is a hot topic and sensitive issue amongst Malaysians, it would appear that as with any digital/social media trends, it is short-lived and without ‘fuel’ to sustain the conversation (ie. KOL retaliating to the negative press), such sentiments die off rather swiftly.
Expectedly, sentiments for Sharifah Rose during this period was at an all time low but the following days sees the negative sentiments reduced by approximately one-quarter (1/4) of its peak count.
It is worth noting that despite the presence of overwhelming negative sentiments, there is still presence of positive sentiments– most notably ‘defending’ Sharifah Rose’s actions or at least, advocating along the agenda of anti-cyber bullying.
Notable positive sentiment includes Canadian artist, Ali Gates supporting Sharifah Rose and her response towards the negative press.
We conclude that so long as a content creator has maintained a strong personal branding (and integrity), and is able to maturely maneuver the difficult terrains of managing their audience’s expectations, loyal followers of the content creator will continually support them through tough times. These loyal followers help to further support and enhance a content creator’s influence over his/her audience, giving brands the desired influence over the same audience when collaborating with them. Afterall, the purpose of collaborations between brands and content creators have been to tap into the loyal follower base of the creators and be able to influence their purchasing habits.
In drawing that conclusion, Sharifah Rose has demonstrated how a content creator’s personal branding can/has managed to ‘survive’ a scandal and in surviving, shows us her ability to persevere in the fast-paced social media terrain. Brands looking over their shoulders when collaborating with her should take note of her maneuvers and consider weaving in this challenge of Sharifah Rose with brand values such as perseverance and integrity.