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The risks and benefits of attaching one person’s face to your brand

June 11, 2010

I usually advise people to avoid making one person their “social media guy/gal,” opting instead for a team-oriented effort. The problem is that if the one person leaves, your brand is left stranded while you look for someone else to fill the role. On the other hand, if you have someone that good or that well-known, you’d be stupid not to take advantage of their (quasi or actual) celebrity.

Think of it like this: No one says “Did you watch The Daily Show last night?” they ask “Did you see Jon Stewart last night?” Is that a good thing for The Daily Show? I don’t know. Right now, who cares, because they’ve got Jon Stewart locked up for a while. Once he leaves, though, what happens to the show? TV shows don’t have a stellar track record after they’ve attempted to replace main stars.

Social media isn’t TV, but the sting of departure is the same. In both mediums, you’re assigning an ambassador to connect with your audience. Relationships are built, trust is established and those aren’t things that seamlessly transfer from one person to the next.

I’m interested to see what happens with seattlepi.com’s The Big BlogMónica Guzmán, arguably the face of the franchise, just left and is being replaced by Humberto Martinez, who admittedly doesn’t know how long he’ll be on board. One thing I think they’re definitely doing right: giving the brand completely over to Humberto and his distinct voice:

…Martinez doesn’t plan on becoming a new Monica Guzman. He knows his personality differs from the uber-outgoing Guzman, and he’s okay with that. Martinez believes he’s a little more private, and while he’ll share himself with his readers, he wants to keep some things – his Facebook page, for instance – for his private life.

Guzman, for her part, believes The Big Blog should reflect Martinez’s voice.

“I think any blog is strongest when it adopts the passions of the blogger,” Guzman said.

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