A personal brand and an online reputation are similar. Some people like the term personal brand. But for small businesses, we are more likely to build an online reputation based on our brand. Whichever is right for you, you still have to manage it.
For celebrities or influencers, they create personal brands. My favorite personal brand is Bono (no surprise here). But Tom Brady, Madonna, Britney Spears and many other celebrities all have created powerful personal brands. Plus there are many influencers today that can help brands promote products.
As small business owners in the social media world, it’s not about creating a celebrity-like image. It is 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. This makes finding your ideal client that much easier.
And as much as many don’t like the term personal brand, there is a brand component to your online (and off-line) reputation that needs to be managed. When creating your online presence, you need to develop a consistent personal brand across all of your social media profiles. A consistent brand helps to establish your credibility and authority. Here’s a checklist of things to do to help with your consistency.
Add a real picture of you, not your logo
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. Keep it real. And use something that isn’t really you 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.
Consistent naming for social media sites
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 on what you think will work and be recognizable before you sign up. Check to see if the username has been taken on various sites. Then try to keep it consistent so you begin to be recognized.
Complete your social media profiles
Take advantage of LinkedIn’s business oriented profile format to write a complete profile description. Use 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. Use one social network as the hub for your personal and professional information. This prevents you from writing something different for each network you join.
Stay active and take action
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 and answer questions in your area of 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.
Remember, you need to manage your online reputation. You can’t just set it and forget it.