Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Words to live by in social media personal branding

When it comes to personal branding in social media what you say is as important, if not more important, than where you say it.

In this third part of my look at personal branding in social media (links to the first two are below) I’d like to focus on what you say and where you say it.

Those who are relatively new to social media may not realize that whatever you say on most platforms can be found not just by people looking for you but also by those who may not even know you exist.

Among this latter group are prospective business partners, future employers and possible social acquaintances.
You, and what you say, are often “found” thanks the search engines’ “spiders” – the automated software programs that crawl the web to gather and categorize data. If these spiders see your name associated with terms such as marketing and sales that is how they rank you – and how others are likely to find you – higher in search results on sites such as Google.

Can you influence what words (and therefore industry, expertise etc) your name is most-commonly associated with? Of course. Do you want to take steps to make sure your personal brand is appearing in search results the way you’d like it to? Absolutely. But how?

Five ways to use keywords to make your personal brand distinct:

1. Have a keyword list:
Keywords are single word or multi-word phrases and you need to have a short list that sums up you and your interests. Mine, for example, include social media, social media strategy, social media tactics and social media best practices. Whenever I’m writing something for the web (like this blog post)I always want to include one or more of these phrases in the headline, the first paragraph and the last paragraph. That way the spiders are more likely to associate those phrases with my name.

2. Blog:
The easiest way to have your thoughts published in an easily found and cataloged way is a blog. Come up with a theme that you’ll write about, be sure to use your keywords, write posts of between 250 and 750 words (the widely believed minimum and maximum searched length of posts) and post regularly (at least weekly).

3. Share something: You need to know where to find good content by others so you can be a curator of content around the topic you wish to be associated with. Then share links via social platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin and be sure to drop in some of your keywords in the postings. If all your social presences are linked (as they should be) this helps the spiders understand your close ties to the subject matter and likely boosts you up the search results.

4. Add something:
Know who the thought leaders in your field are and learn about where they post content. Then find appropriate opportunities to contribute to the discussion of a blog post or on a Linkedin group, for example. You might also look for example to virtually introduce two people you know on social networks who might benefit by getting to know each other. This adding value will get you online mentions, which in turn raises your profile online.

5. Have a plan: Doing all of the above as opportunities present themselves is fine, but why leave it all to chance? To get measurable results you need a plan. That means writing a piece of content once and finding multiple ways to repurpose it across various social platforms. It means building in time to engage with others in social media. It means, most of all, making sure you stay on topic and use your keywords.

Bonus: Want to know how you’re doing using keywords on your blog, for example? Go to Wordle and enter the URL for your blog. The resulting word cloud highlights the words you are most often using. The image above, for example, is a Wordle word cloud of this blog.

If all of this sounds like work, it is. But to succeed with personal branding in social media what you say is an important social media strategy.

Related posts:
Personal Branding in Social Media: First Steps
Social Media Optimization for Personal Branding

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Social Media Optimization for Personal Branding

If personal branding unlocks the many benefits of social media participation then search engine optimization, or SEO, is the key to that lock.

To follow up on my
Personal Branding in Social Media: First Steps post I’d like to look at a few ways to ensure you’ll be found – whether it’s for a job, for your business or just to network with others.

First, have you Googled yourself lately? You do Google yourself regularly, don’t you?

If you do a web search (and by Google I mean all search although we all know who dominates this space) on yourself you will fairly quickly see how others see you on the web. And for the purposes of this post I’ll assume you want to be found.

As it relates to personal branding it is very important that you are found quickly … preferably at or near the top of the first page of Google search results. So how do you get there? I’m glad you asked …

5 Steps to a Search Engine Optimized-Personal Brand Through Social Media:

1. Own the URL of your own name: If your name as a “.com” is still available run out (no sprint!) and buy it now. You get one shot at this – seize it. If your name is already taken find a way to get a distinct version of your name as a URL. The closer you can tie it you as a person, the better. For example, I was lucky to grab
mikejohansson.com when it was available, but if it wasn’t I was willing to settle for MikeJohanssonNY or MikeJNY (I live in New York).

Having your own name as a URL (and some kind of website about you at that address) is quite important. On this website you will link to all of your other web presences. Elsewhere (social networks included) you will link to this website. All of this helps the web spiders that in turn help
Google Search understand that you are THAT individual and not some other person with the same or a similar name and then rank you and the search results you appear in.

2. Use your name consistently across the web: Whatever name you use in life, on a resume, on the web or across your social networks needs to be consistent. That way someone looking for Bob Harris won’t be confused when they find Robert Harris. For example, if you Google
Mike Johansson you should find a lot of stuff about me. At least that’s what SEO efforts in personal branding should be getting me.

3. Use keywords: Make sure you have an elevator pitch (the 30-second statement about who you are and what you do) that has your essential
keyword phrases in it. This pitch should set you apart from others. All or part of it should be used as your bio across all social networks.

4. Link all of your online presences: This seems obvious, perhaps. Whatever platforms you are on you should highlight the others on which you can be found. For example, on Facebook tell people how to find you on Twitter and Linkedin or how to find your blog. Some social networks allow you to post clickable links while others (such as Twitter) do not. Post clickable links where you can or incorporate your Facebook and other links as part of the background image on sites such as Twitter. This cross-linking will pay big dividends when someone searches for you because no matter where they first find you they instantly know where else they can connect with you.

5. Check, and recheck, how others see you: You should Google your own name at least once a week. Look for how you do, or don’t, show up in the first page of results. Notice what other results show up further down. Are there some that you want to get rid of (I’ll blog about that soon). Look for clues to see who else shows up in that search and try to determine if a change in your keywords or adding one more social network might put you ahead of them in the race to be found.

Practice all of these steps in social media and you will see yourself rise up in the search engine results. But maybe you know of other simple steps in personal branding SEO that I haven’t covered here, please share them …

Related posts:
Personal Branding in Social Media: First Steps
Be a Giraffe in Social Media

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Personal Branding in Social Media: First Steps

Personal branding is the topic of a presentation I will be giving this week and it got me thinking how social media has changed everything.

We used to be able “tell” a future employer, client or customer about ourselves with a resume, a college transcript and/or a list of references.

Today we are more likely to “show” them a little about ourselves with all our online presences (whether we intend to or not).

I’m not saying the old way is dead, but it may well be on life support.

So in the next few posts I’ll look at some aspects of personal branding with social media – since that is likely to dominate most of our online visibility. I’ll start with things that assume you want to be found and then deal with how to handle the things you’re not so proud of and how to deal with that proactively.

Let’s start with Five Personal Branding Basics in Social Media:

1. Have your avatar be the same across all presences: That little image of you needs to be instantly recognizable. We recognize a face before we recognize a name. And, even if you have a common name, your face is distinctive. Also, make sure your face is what dominates the space. Anything less makes it hard to recognize.

2. Have your name be your real name OR a consistent name with a consistent bio: Your name on your social media presences should be the same. This may not be practical if you have a very common name or a long or difficult-to-remember name. In that case come up with a memorable name for your account and be sure your real name is prominent. For example, I am
mikefixs on Twitter, but my real name is right there at the top of the bio. In the bio say concisely who you are and say it consistently across platforms. This consistency will ultimately help with the search engine optimization (SEO) of your name.

3. Have all your social media presences linked (as much as is practicable): Reference all of your social media presences (as much as you can) from each of your social media pages. There is a whole blog post in how to do this for SEO value and that will come later. For now it’s enough to say that anyone finding you on one social media platform needs to know all of the other places they can connect with you.

4. Have a consistent stated reason for being in social media: It says a lot about some people who are on Linkedin to find their next job but on Facebook to recall all the partying. It may reflect your true nature, but it sends a mixed message. Decide why you really need to be in social media, spell it out in your bio spaces on each page and stick to it.

5. Have a clear vision for how you add value in social media: This is trickiest part if you’re relatively new to social media on many platforms. Do you know how you are adding value to others by being here? It may be to answer questions from others. It may be to share great stuff you find. It may be to help others connect. How you are perceived on the “giving” side of social media will have a huge impact on the likelihood you will be on the “receiving” end of good things in social media. What kind of good things? Introductions to new networks, tips on great jobs, leads on the latest information in your field … the list does go on. The important thing is that ultimately this may be the real reason to be in social media.

So, does this list do a good job getting you started? To the more experienced out there: What did I forget from my list for social media newbies?

Possibly related links:
Part 2: Social Media Optimization for Personal Branding
10 Commandments for Social Media
5 Really Useful Sites for Social Media Newbies