Bonus- Guest Post by Connie Bensen

connie bensen

Building Brand Through Building Community

By Connie Bensen

A huge thank you to Chris for letting me guest blog! It’s truly an honor as Chris has been a great mentor & I appreciate the opportunity offered to save him from a day of blogging!

Chris has the incredible ability of helping others & has provided me with great mentorship.

I’d like to share my methods for efficiently building an effective brand. Everyone has a story & into this post as I share my tips on building brand. I’m leaving off the word ‘personal’ because it makes some uncomfortable & most of these can be applied to products & businesses. The sociology around branding is intriguing to me. I see people focusing on SEO, monetization, getting a job, etc. And yes, it’s important to be proactive & strategic but if you focus on content & networking those first items will happen indirectly & in a much more powerful way!

My story has been an adventure.

I joined the social media world via Library 2.0 in rural Minnesota. As a public librarian for 10 years I was known as the ‘Library Lady’ in the community. Establishing that presence was much easier than it is to do so online. I read the same books that you have (Word of Mouth Marketing by Andy Sernowitz, Naked Conversations by Shel Israel & Robert Scoble). And I knew that blogging was about finding your voice. But I’ve come to realize that branding is more than that – it’s about finding your purpose & expressing that!

My goal is that these ideas will help guide you through the wilderness of exploration and provide some practical steps to assist you in building your unique brand. It truly is a journey.

The nice thing is that a brand evolves. That takes the stress off. No one wakes up & says, ‘I am…’. That would be too contrived. It’s a periodic review of:

  • Who are you?

  • What makes you unique?
  • Your differentiating qualities & skills are what makes you valuable.
  • What’s your message?
  • What are your goals?
  • Who is your audience?
  • What experiences do you have to share with others?
  • How can you help others? What value do bring to them?

Tip: After you’ve been blogging for a bit ask others for feedback. What may not be apparent to you usually is to others.

I had my personal blog up for 3 months & expressed to Anna Farmery that I thought my topics of social media were too broad. She immediately told me that my focus was on Community Building. And so it was!

When you have some ideas for those questions decide on a plan that is:

  • Memorable – I used a casual photo & the color red; Connie Reece is lovely in her pink boa
  • Repetitive – that photo & my name are repeated everywhere that I am online
  • Companies have it easy in using their logos & their employees are creative
    @LionellatDell @JohnatDell

  • Consistent & sincere – be you everywhere you go whether online or in person

Those are all part of getting started. The most exciting & challenging part is building community around your brand. (yes! I’m a community manager)

Building brand is all about relationships & networking. At this point you’ve decided what your goals are & set up a blog or built a community (as well as dutifully put in the exciting content). But when/how will people know about your site & what you have to offer?

Listen & observe

This step can be done before you’ve created your site (and probably should be). Read & learn as much as you can about your niche. There is so much out there!

  1. Use a blog reader & take advantage of RSS feeds
  2. Find people in your area that you admire & observe what makes them successful. Many of us are happy to mentor when sincere interest is shown in our work.

Interact. Build a Network.

  1. Contribute to the conversation. It’s imperative to get involved for the rest of my these steps to work. I have tips if you’re nervous.

  2. Commenting on blogs & in social networks will result in meeting great like-minded people. Add a link to a related post that you’ve written.
  3. Respond to blog comments via email & thank the person
  4. Use your blog or site to respond to other’s blog posts & link to them
  5. Get involved in social networks of your choice – Twitter, Facebook, niche communities, FriendFeed, etc
  6. Twitter & Stumble posts that you enjoy – it’s a great way to share good articles and drive traffic to them.
  7. Evangelize for what you believe in – your favorite brands are listening & will embrace you (even if they are people! Because they are monitoring their brand)

Tip: Make sure that comments & links add value & are relevant to the conversation.

Monitor

  1. Use google alerts, tweetscan.com, yahoo pipes, etc to monitor your brand & respond quickly

  2. (Radian6 has a great brand monitoring product that quantifies these) – monitor your name, product, brand & keywords.
  3. Use FeedBurner & Google Analytics to monitor traffic. Where is it coming from? What types of posts or topics is attracting it? I check every day. If you have a business it’s very important to watch trends and adjust accordingly.

Tip: I monitor for ‘community manager’ for two reasons: connect with others on Twitter & read the news about the emerging profession.

Continue to Build Your Network & Increase Your Social Capital

  1. Re-evaluate the questions at the beginning

  2. At a certain point you’ll find yourself mentoring others

Building a brand doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a process that requires attention to details. Feel free to ask The web congregates around shared interests & that is the secret to building community around your brand. The reason many of us read Chris’s blog is because of his amazing ability to help everyone. My steps focus on being both proactive & reactive to others. If you help others you will receive equal or more in return. friends & mentors if you have questions or contact me if you would like explanations of how I use any of the tools that I mentioned.

I saw a quote while I was on vacation: How the world sees you, is how you see the world.

It’s all about attitude. Who are you? And how does the world see you?

Guest post by Connie Bensen . The last of the three part series on personal branding will be posted on Wednesday.

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