Not the Real Balloon Boy

Balloon Boy and 3 Lessons Learned

by Ryan Rancatore

For a few short hours today, Balloon Boy captured our hearts.  He also captured the attention of every major social network, cable channel, and water cooler conversation. But, what does this little guy have to do with personal branding?

Understanding how the social web operates is a key first step in forming a lasting digital presence, one cornerstone of a strong personal brand.  Here are 3 lessons learned from Balloon Boy and the surrounding media/web hoopla.

1.  Perception Trumps Actuality

“Balloon Boy” has already become an internet meme…yet, think about it – there was never actually a boy in a balloon.  Could this apply to you?  Does the outward expression of your personal brand allow others to perceive you in an incorrect light?  If your digital presence is filled with incomplete profiles, sporadic postings, and dormant accounts – you will be perceived as lazy whether it is true or not.

2.  Unparalleled Speed

The social web today is lightning fast at distributing information.  Actually, scarily fast.  Shirts saying “Go Falcon, Go” and “Save Balloon Boy” were available for sale on the web…while the balloon was still in the sky! (Disturbing? You betcha. )

What does this mean for you?  You better be lightning quick too.  If you are a small business owner and your customer poses a question to you on Twitter – taking a week to respond is unacceptable.  Depending on the customer, taking a full day to respond might be unacceptable.  The social web demands velocity.

3.  Fame is Fleeting

Once it was revealed that Falcon was safe, sound, and hiding in a box, the bubble burst (so to speak).  The Twitterverse had a few good laughs and we all pretty much moved on.  By the time you read this, another news story will have come along to steal the headlines.

Keep this in mind while building and promoting your personal brand – true success requires consistent production repeated over time.  Did your blog post make the Digg front page, or did your YouTube video go viral?  Great!  But get working on the next one, because fame is fleeting, especially today.

How did you learn about the Balloon Boy story?  Was it through social media or mainstream media?  Any other lessons we can learn, or just plain funny stories you can share?

Balloon Boy image seen here by meddygarnet. Not the real Balloon Boy.  Or is he…?

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