The 24-Carat Virtual Brand…
A weak online brand is like a weak reputation in the traditional world of business. People won’t think you’re as good as others who have a strong online brand presence.
People want to know about you, and they’re going to use the Internet to find out about you whether you like it or not. Your story – the one you want to put out there, one that has been created by others, or one told by the total lack of an online presence – is just a Google or a Bing away.
In researching the online brands of successful individuals in business and other arenas for the second edition of my book, You Are a Brand, I noticed that people with the strongest virtual brands took a keen interest in building their brand on social media as well as personal websites and blogs. Here are 5 virtual branding pointers that I learned from them that can benefit us all:
1. Own Your Name So You’re Easy To Find
We’ve all heard of six degrees of separation: the idea that six connections separate any two people. The concept was based on research done in the 1960’s by Stanley Milgram and made famous by John Guare’s 1990 play Six Degrees of Separation. Well, six degrees is outdated, thanks to social media. Facebook did a study that looked at 721 million active Facebook users and 4.74 was the average number of steps it takes to connect people, even including far-flung Facebook users in the Siberian tundra.
Begin by owning your name’s real estate on the Internet
The cyber world is connecting us quicker than ever so it’s smart to use it and make it easy for people to find you. Begin by owning your name’s real estate on the Internet. Buy your domain name and register your name on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and other social media. Pick a neutral screen name – not @ChattyCathy or other fun handle but your real name such as @CatherineKaputa so it’s easy for people to find you. If you’re an entrepreneur (or enterprising employee), include your email so it’s easy for people to reach out to you directly.
2. Use One (Flattering) Picture Across All Social Media Platforms
If you’ve ever looked at popular dating sites like Match.com or eHarmony.com, you know how important having an attractive picture is to dating success. It is equally important for building your brand online. Your picture will be examined more than you realize. After all, your aim is to get people to pay attention to you, and a picture will help you do that.
A page with a profile picture is 11 times more likely to be viewed than a page without one according to LinkedIn’s research. It’s smart to use the same picture across all sites, a professional head shot – not an avatar or other graphic. Think big and use a picture of 600 pixels or higher so there is good resolution and it conveys high quality.
3. Think Of The “Header” As The Headline On An Ad For Brand You
After the picture, the headline is the most viewed item on a profile page. It’s like the headline on an ad. If people are intrigued, they will go further. One way to approach the header, is to think of important keywords that people might use in trying to find you. You’re only allowed 120 characters on important sites like LinkedIn so choose wisely. Another way to approach the headline is to think in terms of a power statement that defines your personal brand. Here is an example of each approach:
Keyword Headline: Innovative CMO, Extensive retail experience from start-ups to major global brands. Fluent English, French, Mandarin
Power Statement Headline: Helping Companies Find Breakout Ideas and Transforming Them Into Global Technology Brands
4. Tell Your Story Flawlessly In A Captivating Narrative
Inject your personality into your career story, more of you and less impersonal business talk is always good
The best profiles tell a story, a career story or personal story that ties all the pieces of your journey together in a narrative that’s compelling and unusual. Weave in major accomplishments, credentials and turning points in your career. Avoid insider jargon so that who you are and the value you offer is understandable to a broad audience. Ditch aspects of your story that take people off course, unless you can make them part of your story (car wreck leads to rare business opportunity). Don’t forget to inject your personality into your career story, more of you and less impersonal business talk is always good.
5. Use Rich Media And Graphics To Enhance Your Social Media Profile
LinkedIn has been rolling out new features to make your profile a powerful personal branding tool. Now you can include multi-media such as slides, video, photos and other graphics in your Summary and Experience sections. So if you have a short video of a talk that you gave or new product demo, you can incorporate them into your profile to make LinkedIn work as your personal website and marketing platform. LinkedIn has also rolled out a new feature that let’s you upload a customized background for your profile, a feature that used to just be available to Premium members and now will be offered for free to all members. You can use some of the free graphics tools available on the Internet like PicMonkey to design your graphics for social media or hire a graphic designer.
The digital world offers the ultimate branding. It’s a way to build a powerful visual and verbal identity quickly and affordably reaching everyone you want to target and make them part of your brand community. Read more here
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