How much do you need to talk about yourself?

I read with interest two pieces of commentary over the weekend about friend, colleague, and friend of SHIFT Chris Brogan who wrote recently that a stunning number of people didn’t know what he did (he runs Owner Magazine). He asked quite vocally just how much he needs to talk about himself in order for people to even realize what he does.

Friend, colleague, and friend of SHIFT Jason Falls said that talking too much about yourself also turns people off, so Chris is in a bit of a predicament: you can’t talk enough about yourself, but you can’t also talk too much about yourself.

Small though this may seem, this is the exact predicament that many brands and companies find themselves in, from entrepreneurs to Fortune 50 companies. How do you ensure people know who you are (and why they should do business with you) without seeming like a raging narcissistic brand?

The logical answer is rooted (unsurprisingly) in the Earned Media Hub Strategy:

Earned media hub strategy

Talking about yourself, particularly on your own channels, is owned media. It’s where you get to say how awesome you are, and it’s a fine thing to do in moderation.

Talking about yourself is also something you can do on paid media, by taking out ads. While an ad that says, “I’m awesome” may not perform well, the concept does. You rent other peoples’ spaces to talk about yourself.

The piece that’s critically missing from the above discussion is earned mediawhere other people talk about how awesome you are.

As a proxy for people talking about you, let’s look at the inbound links to Chris’ personal website versus his enterprise, his magazine. The problem becomes immediately apparent:


People are “talking” (linking) to his personal website 5.56 times more in the past four weeks than his enterprise.

Owner Magazine’s problem isn’t that Chris isn’t talking about it enough, or that Chris is talking about it too much. It’s neither a frequency nor volume problem. The problem is that Owner Magazine only has an owned media strategy . There are no ads running for it right now. There aren’t enough other people (who aren’t Chris Brogan) talking about it (though certainly Jason’s post and this post are a good start) and generating earned media.

Assuming that Chris didn’t want to hire a PR firm, his next strategy should be driving awareness about Owner Magazine through earned media channels. The quickest, easiest win that I can spot is to look at the authors contributing to Owner Magazine versus where Owner Magazine is getting its links from. Almost none of the authors are giving Owner any ink on their own web properties, so if I were Chris, I’d start there.

How much do you need to talk about yourself? The answer is simple (but not easy): not as much as you need other people to talk about you.

Christopher S. Penn
Vice President, Marketing Technology


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