In the first part of my series on how to develop a strong personal brand online, I talked about the human elements of branding, and why you should consider building a strong personal brand. Let’s go into the technology of how this is accomplished.
The Technology of Brands
My friend and interactive media strategist Adam Broitman calls Google a “reputation management system.” I love it. Essentially, what Google knows is what’s true, as far as the uneducated are concerned. So, how does Google come to accept you as the authority on something? There are a few measurements to that at present.
- Inbound links from other sources – if someone is linking to your website, you must have information of value, especially if that someone who’s doing the linking is important.
- Outbound links to quality material – this is actually more for human love, but certainly helps prove that you’re a lively presence.
- Readable, searchable pages – if Google can tell what you’re talking about at your website, you probably are trying to offer something to the world.
- Constantly updating content – Google values freshness over staleness (don’t we all?)
- Listed in directories – Google wants to know that you’ve submitted your site for inclusion in the more prominent search engines and website directories.
- Mechanical quality – Google has a lot of other things it values, like well-written websites that follow standards, and it’s a little bit of learning to understand them all. Hubspot makes a free Website Grader tool that would help you understand a bit.
That’s what Google cares about, and that’s how a lot of people are searching for you. But we do this for humans, because humans are who make the decisions. So let’s look into what counts for your strong personal brand technologically, with humans in mind.
Start With a Home Base
First and foremost, build a site to call your own. I recommend a blog, because of a blog’s ability to command more attention from Google on one hand, and because you can use it to build your voice on the other. I recommend buying your own name as a domain ( here’s a list of domain registration coupon codes for GoDaddy.com). It might not be your home base or part of your largest plan, but buy it now while you can. And then, if you have another brand you want to promote as your BIG #1 brand, then buy that domain name, too, and put up a blog.
The aesthetics of your blog and your blog design are up to you. Pretty blogs don’t hurt people’s opinion of your work.
But we have to start thinking outside the blog, too. It’s not ALL about you. Or maybe it is, but it’s about how you get out and travel the web, too.
Build a Few Accounts
To participate on the web these days requires that you build some accounts at various web platforms. Here’s a quick list of sites and why you should have an account there:
- Google Accounts – so you can use several dozen free applications by Google.
- Yahoo! Accounts / Mail – so you can use several dozen free applications by Yahoo. (Also, take advantage of Yahoo’s OpenID account).
- Digg – social news site.
- StumbleUpon – social news site.
- YouTube – video sharing site.
- Flickr – video sharing site.
- Upcoming.org – social events calendar.
- Del.icio.us – social bookmarking.
- PayPal – online money transfer.
- eBay – auction site.
- Amazon.com – shopping site.
- This doesn’t fit anywhere else, but take a few pictures of your head to make avatars for accounts. Your company logo doesn’t cut it to me. I want a picture of your head, so that we can identify you at conferences and the like.
You might have some other “must have” accounts for my list. If so, let’s talk about it in the comments section, and maybe I’ll update with some of them.
Social Networks to Consider
There are plenty of communities online, and these all have social networks to empower them. I could list about a hundred places where you might choose to spend your time, but here are some real baseline social networks where your presence might help further develop your brand:
- Twitter – if you don’t “get it” right away, that’s okay. The learning curve is about 30 days before you feel like it’s indispensable.
- Facebook – I use Facebook as an outpost, where I build my profile, link back to my site, and give people a bit more understanding of who I am and what matters to me.
- LinkedIn – This is a professional network. Don’t let the “looks like a resume” fool you. Write your profile as if a human will actually read it. Be interesting. And participate with the community, and you’ll develop more awareness and build a stronger future.
- And a specialized network. If you have a niche or genre of interest, be sure to find a vibrant community to join that surrounds it. Love photography? Get into Flickr. Huge on music? Get into MuxTape or any million other cool music communities.
Coming Up Next
This is the end of part 2 of the series. Hopefully, you’ve got some suggestions to add to this section, as you clearly have some experience in how these technologies apply.
In the last part of the series, we’ll talk about how you might apply the human skill and the technology to your use of personal branding. This will have a mix of strategic and tactical points for you to consider, and hopefully, you’ll come away with some next steps to apply to your own personal brand.
How’s this working for you? What else do you need? Let’s talk about it in the comments.