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


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