Whatever you call it, you still need to manage it!
There’s a lot of conversation about the term personal brand. My favorite personal brand is Bono (no surprise here), but Tom Brady, Madonna, J. Lo, Manny Ramirez, Britney Spears and many other celebritites all have personal brands – some good and some not so good at times.
As small business owners in the social media world, it’s not about creating a celebrity-like image but about establishing your reputation and managing how you are perceived by others, especially those who may want to do business with you. Building and nurturing a consistent reputation for what you are good at (your differentiation) is something you should strive for to make finding your ideal client that much much easier.
And as much as some folks don’t like the term personal brand, there is a brand component to your online (and off-line for that matter) reputation that needs to be managed. When creating your online presence, develop your personal brand consistently across all of your social media profiles so that it can work to establish your credibility and authority. Here’s a checklist of things to do to help with your consistency:
For some reason, some people just don’t want to put their picture in their profile. Social networking is about developing relationships and people want to see a real person and get to know them. If you are trying to develop a relationship that results in brand loyalty for your business, use a good picture that shows your real personality.
The picture does not have to be a professionally taken picture, but it should project your professionalism. Don’t put on a business suit if you’re style is business casual and your typical client relates better to a more laid back style. Remember your brand should be the real you, not something made up because you think that’s what people want to see.
Have several pictures taken so that you can choose the best one. Use it on your blog, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn to increase recognition of your brand across platforms. Sign up for a gravatar so that your picture shows up in comments on other blogs if that feature is supported.
The name or identifier you use should be the same one for all of your social networking websites. If you want to build a professional brand reputation, don’t create something cute. Keep it relative to you and your business. If you have a common name that has most likely been taken, use a combination of your name and business name or add a middle initial if that makes sense for you. Decide before you sign up on something that you think would work across the social media universe and try to keep it consistent so you begin to be recognized.
Take advantage of LinkedIn’s business oriented profile format to write a complete profile description using relevant keywords and then copy that description or pieces of it to all the other social networks, tailoring it to the audience. Since LinkedIn is the more business-oriented social network, they provide ample space to fully describe who you are and what you do. Setting one social network as the hub for your personal and professional information prevents you from writing something different for each network you join.
If you write a blog and update your status regularly, stay true to your discipline and expertise. Focus on how you help people and what’s in it for them. Build relationships, connect people to others that are beneficial to them, answer questions in your area of expertise and did I mention focus? I’m stressing focus because I’ve noticed recently on LinkedIn that there are people who have “best answers” to questions in 50 or more categories that are totally unrelated. Can they really be experts in that many diverse categories? Did they really answer them all or had someone else answer the questions for them (if so, not very transparent)? What is their strength? Who are they marketing to? Being a Jack of all trades and a master at none comes to mind. Pick your targets and focus on your strengths. It will draw people to you who need your expertise.
When you are participating in social media, you are establishing your reputation whether you know it or not. Make it a conscious effort and nurture the personal brand that is truly you.
How well do you manage your online reputation? Share your tips and tricks in the comments below.
U2 photo credit Phil Romans.