Branding Yourself Online

The Chris Crocker Model for Building an Online Image and How to Destroy It

In Icons and Newsmakersby Melissa Shea

HBO has a fascinating documentary on Chris Crocker – he’s not a popstar, he’s not a rockstar, he’s not a pornstar.. but he is a CROCKSTAR proclaims his Twitter bio. Chris Crocker gained YouTube fame in the early days with his impassioned appeal to “LEAVE BRITNEY ALONE“. The Chris Crocker of 2007 bares little resemblance to the Chris Crocker of 2012, now 25 years old as of yesterday, December 7.

Me @ the Zoo follows Chris on his journey from being a bullied gay teen growing up in Nowhere Tennessee in the not-so-distant past when it was still OK to treat gay kids as less than human. Forced to be home schooled because his family feared for his life, Chris turned to YouTube to express himself and connect to the world he had no access to. Watching the documentary was a true commentary on how to build an image, destroy it, and then rebuild.

I’m not going to review the entire documentary for you. I want you to watch it for yourself. What I want to share here is how you can use the movie as a cautionary tale in how to build your online image and how easily you can destroy it.

5 Steps to Building Your Online Image

While Chris’ rise to fame was as a YouTube personality, it’s more likely your rise to fame needs a more polished approach. But we’ll look at Chris’ model “tongue-in-cheek” for inspiration.

  1. Dress for Success: Have you heard the phrase “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have”? Your online image is your dress rehearsal for the career you want. Dress for it every day in how you communicate and present yourself as a person and a professional in your online social networks. Chris wanted to be Britney Spears. So he dressed like her and created an online image that was consistent with his goal.
  2. Find Your Voice: A successful online image requires a point of view. Your point of view can change as you grow into your career but the thing that should never change is your authenticity. People will follow a person who leads. Find your voice and be a leader. Chris LOVED Britney Spears and supported her in good times and bad. He consistently represented himself as a voice for Britney Spears.
  3. Control Your Image: No doubt you’ve created so many public profiles in your life you can’t even remember them all. But since employers, industry professionals, and business collaborators will view your social profile as a first step in getting to know you better, you best make sure your profiles represent you well and will help your career and not hurt it. Chris gave his fans the same image no matter where they found him. On YouTube, MySpace and more, Chris carefully crafted an image that defined who he was.
  4. Network with Professionals: Figure out who the thought leaders are in your industry. Follow them and communicate with them. Offer your point of view and discuss theirs. Start with the leaders in your own community and become one of the voices in your industry. Chris unabashedly entered into the conversation about Britney and presented himself as an authority with a message. He was rewarded with millions of views on his YouTube videos and publicity in the mainstream press.
  5. Give of Yourself: Sharing your talents and skills to help others is the fastest way to create a reputation that others will notice. Use your social profiles to promote peers and causes you believe in. Volunteer your talents and skills to help your community and the local fashion industry. Chris spent years crafting an image for himself around something he was passionate about. He gave of himself everyday with no expectation of reward.

Using The Chris Crocker Model to Destroy Your Image

  1. Engage in excessive behavior.

That’s pretty much it. Chris was given a chance at a TV show and turned his image into “Chris Gone Wild”. The media outlets such as MTV backed away pretty quickly. Chris’ excessive partying, sexual behavior and exhibitionism proved he was not mature enough to take the next step and create a successful media career as a professional.


YouTube star Chris Crocker has a meltdown that makes his career.

In today’s world it’s imperative that we protect our online image or it can and may very well cost us our job or career opportunities  As you scratch and claw your way to recognition in your industry, refrain from creating a self-induced social profile faux pas.

  1. Don’t engage in profanity. Your daily trash talk among your friends should never make it’s way onto your social profiles.
  2. Keep the girls under wraps. Unless you’re a model, no one should see your boobs.
  3. Keep the party image out of sight. One wild night out on the town and a few tagged photos can make you look unemployable. Don’t upload those photos.

The beauty of Chris Crocker’s story is that self reflection got him back on the right path. Too often we fail at something and give up. Chris failed publicly and completely. Losing his shot at a real career and his fan base. Yet he contemplated on what went wrong and what he needed to do to restore his image. The 25 year old Chris Crocker is older and wiser. And he’s still out there creating an image and a voice and is a true inspiration for tenacity and creativity.

So feel free to use the Chris Crocker model for rebuilding your image: If you fail, pick yourself up, dust yourself off and reflect on what went wrong. Then start again…

About Melissa Shea

Melissa Shea is the co-founder of Fashion Mingle and has spent over 20 years in the creative industry fueled by a love of learning about the “next new thing”. Melissa has used her entrepreneurial passion and technology skills to develop an online platform for fashion professionals that will transform the future for local fashion communities.

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