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Perception: The Art of Advocating for Your On-line {social} Presence

Perception is reality.

You can accept it or you can change it.

How true is that?

What do people perceive when it comes to you? Self-analysis is a tough thing to do at the best of times, huh? Some people even think navel gazing is, per se, a waste of time.

I was watching a comedy sketch the other day with Jerry Seinfeld where he travels around in these cool cars, picks up a friend, fellow comedian or actor, and they enjoy a little friendly banter. Check it out here. You will not be disappointed and thanks Gin and Topics for showing us the way.

Jerry was talking to Joel Hodgson about how we humans find it easy to look backward as opposed toward the future for the express reason that it is easier to reflect on what has already happened in your life than it is to plan for the future. We tend to find comfort in the past; our memories of the moments we cherish.

The bit was hilarious but left me thinking about perception.

We all have impressions of the restaurants we visit, people we work with and the companies that make the products we buy. The internet has opened up the world of perception in a big, big way. Our digital signatures follow us around and stick to us like glue. Whatever we say, do, post, like or upload stays with us for eternity.

Seems like an awesome responsibility.

Cool, huh?


Anthony Weiner (how unfortunate that name has become) certainly knows about perception implicitly now, doesn’t he? Oh, THAT Anthony Weiner, righhhhht……as you Google his name or ask just about anyone about him.

The old adage actions speak louder than words couldn’t be more relevant in this day and age, could it?

But how do you really know someone anyway?

The way you see those virtual someones, is that how they really are? Do their actions define who they are?

They do and by their doing we have a perception of who they are. IRL is likely the best way to know who someone really is but even then we still never know what goes on behind the scenes.  Do we?

So……should we?

I say no.

It’s interaction that defines a person. We can read it in their body language, inflection in their voice and their tone. Over time patterns emerge and it’s that perception that makes a person who they are; to you. You don’t need to know about their personal lives to make that assessment. Stay away, far, far away.

What else defines a person?

Golf does.

Your true inner beast is revealed when you golf. I know exactly how you will conduct business when you golf with me. It is the truest test of human nature {wink, wink}.

What else?

How about your on-line activity?

No matter if you are a company, individual, entrepreneur, social dude or business magnate your social contribution to the on-line world is critically important to the perception people have of you. You do what you do and it defines who you are. Simple. This is not meant to be taken as judgement at all. I know some of you might just go there but fuggedaboudit.

Not in play, my friends. Not in the slightest.


We are all human.

Aaaaaand, yes siree Bob, brands are human. Yep, humans make all the decisions that make a brand what it is. When we perceive a brand we are experiencing the people behind it and those people go out in the world and represent themselves and their brand. Forget about putting brand advocates, PR folks or marketing and communications people on the hook. Sure, they influence the front line but they alone do not represent the brand.

In reality, they can only really represent themselves.

The rest is collective and every member of an organization makes up the overall perception of a brand. The guy in the mailroom could, in today’s world, with the power of social media make or break the perception of a brand. We are all advocates now, like it or not.

Here’s an example of that.

What did you think? Advocate right? What is my perception of the brand? What perception do you have of the brand or of me?

Over to you: What is your perception of the idea that we are all personal brand advocates?

Why do so many people dislike Nickleback?




About this Author: Ralph Dopping (199 Posts)

A quirky sense-o-humour coupled with an indelible sense of stylish sarcasm makes it difficult to take the world too seriously doesn't it? My faves: fun, passion and hard work. I work here everyday:


Ah, yes. The good old perception.


We do things based on our perceptions, right, Ralph? Now, as you mentioned, that might not be the actual reality - what we think or perceive a person to be may not be the person at all, in reality.


What defines a person?


Nothing. I think that we shouldn't waste time trying to define a person or to judge him/her (a hard thing to do, because judging someone is an in born trait, but we can control it; how we take that into account to form our perception and how we behave to them - our attitude, towards them).


I don't fully agree with your point about interaction, because people change over time and there are changes in how we interact to, to other people. Take an example: Our interaction with our best friend and compare that to our interaction with a person we just met. Both are different.


For me, I am a bit more controlled with strangers and new people. As with my friends, I am more relaxed (and that shows up in how we interact too).


Then there are some people who try to interact differently so that they can impress a certain person.


As with people representing themselves, I agree to an extent. Like in the situations I mentioned, people have the capability to be "someone else", but over time, they will end up representing themselves in the company brand. 

Latest blog post: Contact Us


Every body said every thing.... 


I say this : Why do people hate Nickelback? Let's beat the crap out of those who do....I am not a big, big fan; but those are nice guys. Maybe they need a better advocate of their brand? Or maybe we should make them read your post....

Soulati | Hybrid PR
Soulati | Hybrid PR

This is a wonderful post; it very resonated with's a theme of late, good or bad. Love CB2; my modern kitchen table comes from there! Like the artwork, too! Nice seeing you yakking, wait, you just said "love,, love, loe that yak!" Really? OK, you just freaked me out. Time to fly!

Latest blog post: Behind Every Blog Is A Person

Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes
Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes

We have to be our own advocates because no one else is going to do it for us. There is no substitute for interaction in real life. It is not the only way we get to know people but it is a significant step in the right direction because the communication is usually better in person than on the phone or via text (blogs, email, etc)


Add that to the chance to "follow" the actions of whomever we are speaking about and you begin to put together a real picture that you can use. However there are things that we don't know and secrets that are kept. The question is are they significant and substantive. They don't always play a big role in the lives of another, but sometimes...


Loved the last sentence: "We are all advocates now, like it or not."  We all have a voice and we all have something to say; we are all afraid of what other people might say about us and other people are afraid of what we could say about them. It's a strange time because as you said, our digital footprint follow us around and there's nowhere to hide. I think individuals are now empowered by the fact that brands will hear their voice, but employers, colleagues, friends and enemies will form an opinion over their social media presence at the same time. That's when "posing" - @Caitlin Kelly said- begins... As a matter of fact, I've read an article stating that "looking as good as possible on Facebook profile pages is the main priority of 56 per cent of Britons questioned in a survey looking at social media habits", and that won't lead to a natural reflection of who you are. We have to find a balance between how do we want to be perceived and how to better define ourselves, as individuals and as a brand.


T-shirt? Were you in your boxers too? I want to see a coat and tie if you are going to do a professional vid......


Do you ever really know someone; sometimes you don't even know yourself? We might have a pretty good idea of what you are all about and you stay pretty consistent in your actions and beliefs; but what is really beneath the surface, way down deep in there? 


True story; I played softball with a guy who came from a good family; he was good looking, talented, popular and witty. He moved away with his girlfriend and her young son to start a life in Virginia. They soon broke up and apparently he was devastated to the point of stalking her. He was outside her house peeking in the windows on night and saw her kissing a guy on her couch. He storms in the house with a baseball bat and beat the guy to death. 


One act, one life; I would have never guessed this guy had that in him. Do we really know anybody? 


You facetiously said it, but if you really want to know someone, play a round of golf with them. It is a very good barometer. 


Kudos to you on the video Ralph: keep up the great work:) And there's no doubt about it...the perception of a brand starts at the "curb". Every person, every thing, every word, every nuance speaks to and of the brand. For me, what you see is what you get. You wouldn't be surprised if we met IRL (oh yeah, we did that already, right?). I say what I mean and mean what I say, and according to many of my friends, I'm seen as a "ray of sunshine" (oh right...that was you:)))))) Cheers! Kaarina

Caitlin Kelly
Caitlin Kelly

If you want to see a lot of people puffing and posing, hang around LinkedIn. Gah! It's one of the reasons I so dislike it, despite its vaunted rep as the go-to place for jobs. I see shameless self-promotion and sanitized squeaky-clean answers, few of which ever reveal the person behind the statements.


I still think face to face tells you a lot more quickly than anything you'll read on-line.


As the author of a book about retail, I know, as a shopper and a salesperson, that the front-line associate IS the brand, not the ads or the CEO or the marketing campaign. So the gap between the notion of excellence and its actual real-time execution is often huge. Example: I stayed at the Banff Springs Hotel last year. My interactions were primarily with the lobby staff (two concierges and a lobby ambassador.) They were all terrific; ergo, I love this brand and would happily return.


My own blog and my on-line comments are "me" -- direct, no BS, funny, earnest. I don't have the time or energy to maintain some fake persona.

rdopping moderator

 @Jeevanjacobjohn thanks for your comments. Interesting take on the subject and I understand your point of view. Very nicely said.


Hey, think about the interaction thing this way. To form an opinion or gain a perception of a person it usually goes two ways; first impressions and then over time we truly "understand" who they are. You wither work your way up or down the ladder dependant on what the first impression was. I don't think it much matters if it's a friend or a stranger because you are who you are and your true self comes out one way or the other.


I am not trying to convince you. Just testing my own thoughts. I agree that we are all typically more conservative when we meet new people but our true colours usually shine through eventually. It is highly relevant in golf. If you are golfing with a stranger the first few holes are all nice and proper and after about 14 holes you really have a sense of who you are dealing with. It's astounding and fun.


Great comments and thank you for taking the time to leave your thoughts. I greatly appreciate your time.

rdopping moderator

 @Soulati | B2B Social Media Marketing What can I say? I love the Yak. No need to be freaked out and thank you for the compliment. Thanks, also, for taking the time to stop by. I always appreciate the company. Have a great weekend.

rdopping moderator

Hey  @thejoshuawilner  thanks for dropping by and leaving your mark. Awesome! I agree that everyone has "secrets" per se or maybe it's more about personal stuff that isn't necessary to share. As I mentioned it's not what we don't know about someone but what we do know that forms the perception. If someone's personal life enters into their public life then it folds into the persona that we see.


Regardless, I agree that we are all our own advocates and we represent who we are in all forms of medium. The thing is that a conversation can be forgotten but the impression it leaves cannot. For me, actions are the same in many ways.


Maya Angelou had a quote that fits nicely here, " I have learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” 


Thanks again for stopping by,sir. Very much appreciated.

rdopping moderator

 @GiseleNMendez  @Caitlin Kelly Gisele, thank you so much for dropping in here. You know how much I appreciate your comments and opinion? Well, maybe you don't but I do respect who you are and I am very happy that you can take the time to drop in and comment.


We ARE all advocates.


I truly believe that and hope that I live my life in that manner. There always have been and always will be a ton of fakers in the world and the internet has opened up the world to the possibility. I would like to say and think that most of the community that I am around are not like that.


I believe in finding like-minded people and feel that attracts the same back. BTW, are you still in Berlin? Damn, how cool is this social thing? Getting to know people from all over the globe.


Cheers Gisele. Have a great day. 

rdopping moderator

 About the golf, right you are Mr. @bdorman264  I couldn't have said it better myself. I wasn't actually intending to be facetious even though it is meant a little tongue-in-cheek. Wonder what Mr. @Mark_Harai has to say about that?


Yeah, I guess you really don't know anyone for real but you certainly can get enough of an indication if they fir your frame of thinking in a general sense. Sometimes completely unstable people are good at hiding their psychoses a la Complaince (the cinematic wonder-piece we talked about last week).


Good to see you and thanks for dropping in. As soon as I get to FLA we are definitely playing a round (likely in March/April). Cheers Bill!

rdopping moderator

Well, there you have it @KDillabough You are a ray of sunshine to me and it doesn't matter much that you are snowshoes to someone else but what does matter is if someone takes issue with a friend. 


You see what you get is likely the best way to conduct yourself. That way you never need to pose. Ever. There is something satisfyingly simple and comfortable about that. Have a great week and thanks fro dropping by. Appreciated. Cheers to you! RD

rdopping moderator

 @Caitlin Kelly Great comments. I had a similar experience with a huge retailer in Toronto but it had the opposite effect. It's the reason I wrote this but didn't want to draw on the negative. Suffice it to say that Banana Republic will never get another Canuck buck out of my pocket. The "front-line" sales people treated me like crap for whatever reason they chose.


Both examples prove the point and i am sure there are many more where those came from. I have to agree that the idea between how a company perceives itself and how its customers do is sometimes separated by a vast chasm. I suppose that's what social media is meant to fix, huh?


Thanks for popping in. Love your input here. Always great!


@rdoppingThank you, Ralph! I'm glad to read you appreciate my opinion because I love the way you think so it's quite amazing to know you enjoy my comments.


You're right about the fakers, and too believe that "our community" is not like that :) From different sides of the world, we've found each other and decided to stick together. It wasn't faith, we search for the same things and care about the same matters, and here we are: connected. Clearly our interactions have defined our relationship!


We're still in Berlin, now with a new family member, meet Bruce Lee: We will probably spend two more years here and then possibly move to the UK, although we're missing Italy so we might go back at some point.


Have a beautiful week!



 @rdopping  @Mark_Harai It might not always seem like I'm on a mission, but there are very few days I feel like I wasted it; I am always moving forward on something..........


 @rdopping  @bdorman264  @Mark_Harai I say swing as hard you can and put a dent in the little white ball... "Life's just a game, play it well... And have fun playing it!"


If you have to cheat, scream, get angry with yourself or others, take up knitting for crying out loud and stop revealing all of your weaknesses and insecurities to people you desire to do business with!




Whats in a person heart & mind will always fall out of their mouth and their written word eventually... 


I only have ears for one thing, progress... There's a certian mindset and attitude that goes along with progress and if you don't possess it, you won't find me listening or connecting with you.


It exists high above the nonsense and folly of life and you'll know you're right place because important shit is getting done :o  


Not sure if you can completely avoid running into psychotics here; but there are certainly a lot less of them!


Cheers Gents!


 @rdopping Always a pleasure, my friend:) Have a great week yourself. Cheers! Sunshine;)

Caitlin Kelly
Caitlin Kelly

 @rdopping Indeed! I had an experience here at J. Crew that was stunningly bad -- while CEO Mickey Drexler continues to get rave reviews as CEO and Jenna Lyons as creative director. I like their stuff and have bought it since, but have also told a few storied about them they would likely wish had never happened.

rdopping moderator

 @GiseleNMendez How true is that? There's a clear example to prove the point for sure. Thanks for pointing it out.


You know I did see Bruce Lee before on Facebook. He is sooooo cute. And I love his name. It's so perfect especially because of your love of MMA. Enjoy him to the fullest!


 @bdorman264  @rdopping You've grown like a weed on the social web!  That's inspiring stuff... Always interested in seeing what direction you're going to take us : )


 @bdorman264  @rdopping It's always a temptation when you can hit the ball a mile... My golf buddies always say, "nice easy swing, Mark" - LOL!


Actually, my short game has improved : )


 @rdopping  @bdorman264 Clarifying my 'getting shit done' statement, we have many common friends and as you know, many have found huge success with social media - some are feverishly to identify how social works with or in their business - some have launched new businesses - some are working on writing their first novel/book - others are helping non-profits effectively leverage the social web, while others are launching their first podcast - some are taking video to the stratosphere, while others are showing others how to do same. The list goes on and on...


The world of business on the social web is important shit to me. It's important to every person I'm connected with on the social web; otherwise I wouldn't be connected with them.


I have huge respect for entrepreneurs - it's the most difficult thing an individual can do with their lives. Entrepreneurs drive EVERYTHING in life and business. Whether its the food you eat, the medicine you take to get better and/or the future of technology, every technology, and how it impacts the human race, entrepreneurs are behind it and the social web is becoming the connecting point for business all over the globe.


Although one man/woman's important shit differs from another; it seems to be extremely important shit to just about every person I'm connected with on the social web... That's why I connected with you and them.


We're shaping the future of business in the world. Never before have business minded people been so connected. The social web is in diapers at this point. We're connected to some of the brightest the people on the planet... Some shit is going to happen! I'm connected with movers, shakers, dreamers who put action behind their visions. 


I'm so dang excited for our community, I could explode! People's lives and the world will never be the same!

rdopping moderator

 @Mark_Harai  @bdorman264 Fair enough Mark. Only go where important shit is getting done, however, one man's important shit is not always the same as another man's important shit. The beauty is we get to decide and decide we do. To me, that's where actions speak louder than words.


Thanks for stopping in. Always a pleasure.


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