I’ve read several articles recently that talk about a “personal brand” and how folks should mind their social stores. Everyone has advice or their opinions, but, honestly, I think people’s social faces are going to be as different as their physical ones.

From my perspective, the bottom line with social media and “personal brands” is this: as in life, you’re pretty much free to do whatever you want. Whether you want to be chatty, observational, opinionated, reclusive, or just listen in, it’s up to you. Your followers, friends, etc. will be shaped by your actions (or lack thereof). There’s no true “right way” to manage your personal brand in the social web; stick with how you manage your day-to-day affairs and you should turn out fine.

I’ve been thinking of social media as your personal TV channel with its own unique programming, but I don’t think that’s quite accurate. A better analogy would be a street performer. You have a talent to show off, knowledge to share, a skill to demonstrate, or something to talk about. People who notice you, whether it’s by happenstance or referral, become your audience. If they like what they see, hear, or learn, they stick around. If not, they move on. Your voice and your performance space are only limited by the audience you attract.

Of course, running a subset of your life on the web doesn’t mean you’re free of cause and consequence. Don’t want to make enemies? Stay away from lies, aggression, and inflammatory comments. Don’t want to get fired? Don’t disparage your coworkers, employer, their line of business, or yourself (by making ribald jests, posting incriminating photos, etc.). Don’t want to reveal too much about yourself? Tell social networks only what you want them to know.

Be yourself. Use common sense. Authenticity tempered with good judgment will do wonders for your brand.