You are not special. You are not a beautiful or unique snowflake. You are the same decaying organic matter as everything else. – Tyler Durden, Fight Club.
Branding one’s self in an online environment built on entropy and go-baby-go is difficult at best, and impossible if you forget to take your happy pills. To that end, I’ve come up with a quick list of 100 things you might do to help with these efforts. Feel free to add your ideas to the comments section.
If you like this one, please don’t hesitate to stumble, blog, digg, bookmark, and otherwise promote the hell out of this. That’s another tactic, by the way. : )
* Build ego searches using Technorati and Google Blogsearch
* Comment frequently (and meaningfully) on blogs that write about you and your posts
* Don’t forget the conversations hiding in Twitter (use Summize.com) and Friendfeed. Be sure to stay aware of those.
* If you can afford it, buy professional listening tools, like Radian6 or others in that category.
* Use Google Reader to store your ego searches.
* Use Yahoo! Site Explorer to see who’s linking to your site.
* Use heat map tools like CrazyEgg to see how people relate to your site.
* Listen to others in your area of expertise. Learn from them.
* Listen to thought leaders in other areas, and see how their ideas apply to you.
* Don’t forget podcasts. Check out iTunes and see who’s talking about your area of interest.
* Track things like audience/community sentiment (positive/negative) if you want to map effort to results.
* Home base is your blog/website. Not everyone needs a blog. But most people who want to develop a personal brand do.
* Buy an easy-to-remember, easy-to-spell, content-appropriate domain name if you can. Don’t be TOO clever.
* A really nice layout doesn’t have to cost a lot, but shows you’re more than a social media dabbler.
* Your “About” page should be about you AND your business, should the blog be professional in nature. At least, it should be about you.
* Make sure it’s easy to comment on your site.
* Make sure it’s easy for people to subscribe to your site’s content.
* Use easy to read fonts and colors.
* A site laden with ads is a site that doesn’t cherish its audience. Be thoughtful.
* Pay attention to which widgets you use in your sidebar. Don’t be frivolous.
* Load time is key. Test your blog when you make changes, and ensure your load times are reasonable.
* Register your site with all the top search engines.
* Claim your site on Technorati.com
* Use WebsiteGrader.com to make sure your site is well built in Google’s eyes.
* Passports are accounts on other social networks and social media platforms. It’s a good idea to build an account on some of these sites to further extend your personal branding.
* Twitter.com is a must if you have a social media audience. It also connects you to other practitioners.
* Facebook and/or MySpace are useful social networks where you can build outposts (see next list).
* Get a Flickr account for photo sharing.
* Get a YouTube account for video uploading.
* Get a StumbleUpon.com account for voting.
* Get a Digg.com account for voting, as well.
* Get an Upcoming.org account to promote events.
* Get a del.icio.us account for social bookmarking.
* Get a WordPress.com account for its OpenID benefits.
* Get a LinkedIn account for your professional network.
* Take a second look at Plaxo. It’s changed for the better.
* Get a Gmail.com account for use with reader, calendar, docs, and more.
* Build RSS outposts on Facebook. Add Flog Blog, and several other RSS tools.
* Build a similar outpost on MySpace, if your audience might be there.
* Make sure your social media is listed in your LinkedIn profile.
* Add a link to your blog to your email signature file (this is still an outpost).
* Be sure your social network profiles on all sites has your blog listed, no matter where you have to put it to list it.
* Make sure your passport accounts (above) point to your blog and sites.
* Use social networks respectfully to share the best of your content, in a community-appropriate setting.
* Don’t forget places like YahooGroups, Craigslist, and online forums.
* Email newsletters with some links to your blog makes for an effective outpost, especially if your audience isn’t especially blog savvy.
* Podcast content can have links to your URL and might draw awareness back to your content, too.
* Create new content regularly. If not daily, then at least three times a week.
* The more others can use your content, the better they will adopt it.
* Write brief pieces with lots of visual breaks for people to absorb.
* Images draw people’s attention. Try to add a graphic per post. (Not sure why this works, but it seems to add some level of attention.)
* Mix up the kinds of pieces you put on your site. Interviews, how-to, newsish information, and more can help mix and draw more attention.
* Limit the number of “me too” posts you do in any given month to no more than three. Be original, in other words.
* The occasional ‘list’ post is usually very good for drawing attention.
* Write passionately, but be brief (unless you’re writing a list of 100 tips).
* Consider adding audio and video to the mix. The occasional YouTube video with you as the star adds to your personal branding immensely, especially if you can manage to look comfortable.
* Brevity rules.
* Commenting on other people’s blogs builds awareness fast.
* The more valuable your comments, the more it reflects on your ability and your character.
* Use your listening tools to stay active in pertinent discussions.
* Try not to brag, ever. Be humble. Not falsely so, but truly, because a lot of what we do isn’t as important as saving lives.
* Ask questions with your blog posts. Defer to experts. Learn from the conversation.
* Be confident. Asking for external validation often is a sign of weakness.
* Good conversations can be across many blogs with links to show the way.
* Try never to be too defensive. Don’t be a pushover, but be aware of how you present yourself when defending.
* Disclose anything that might be questionable. Anything, and quickly!
* Don’t delete critical blog comments. Delete only spam, abrasive language posts, and offensive material. (Have a blog comments policy handy, if you get into the deleting mode.
* Remember that community and marketplace are two different things.
* Make your site and your efforts heavily about other people. It comes back.
* Make it easy for your community to reach you.
* Contribute to your community’s blogs and projects.
* Thank people often for their time and attention.
* Celebrate important information in your community (like birthdays).
* Be human. Always.
* Your community knows more than you. Ask them questions often.
* Apologize when you mess up. Be very sincere.
* Treat your community like gold. Never subject them to a third party of any kind without their consent.
* Knowing more about your competitors’ communities is a useful thing, too. Learn who visits, why they visit, and how they interact.
* Measuring your efforts in building community grows out your brand as a natural extension.
Face to Face
* Have simple, useful, crisp business cards to share. Always.
* Be confident in person.
* Clothes and appearance DO matter. WIsh they didn’t, but they do.
* Have a very brief introduction / elevator pitch and practice it often.
* Ask questions of people you meet. Get to know them.
* Don’t seek business relationships right off. Instead, seek areas of shared interest.
* Know when to walk away politely.
* Don’t try to meet everyone in a room. Meet a half dozen or more great new people.
* Never doubt that you are worth it.
* If you’re terribly shy, consider finding a “wing man” for events.
* Doing homework ahead of time (finding people’s most recent blog posts, googling them, etc) helps one feel “in the know.”
* Make eye contact. It’s MUCH more powerful than you know.
* Use Digg, StumbleUpon, Del.icio.us and Google Reader to drive awareness.
* Promote others even more than you promote yourself
* Bragging isn’t useful to anyone besides your own ego
* Linking and promoting others is a nice way to show you care about people
* Don’t digg/stumble/link every single post. Save it for your very best
* Another promotional tool: guest blog on other sites
* Another promotion tool: make videos on YouTube with URL links
* Another promotion tool: use the status section of LinkedIn and Facebook
* Try hard not to send too many self-promotional emails. Wrap your self-promotion in something of value to others, instead.
* Sometimes, just doing really good work is worthy of others promoting you. Try it.
You probably have some great ideas to add to this. I’d love to hear what you want to add, or feel free to blog your own list and add value to the project that way. In any case, I hope this was helpful, and I wish you great success in your efforts to brand yourself and show the world what a rockstar you are.
The Social Media 100 is a project by Chris Brogan dedicated to writing 100 useful blog posts in a row about the tools, techniques, and strategies behind using social media for your business, your organization, or your own personal interests. Swing by [chrisbrogan.com] for more posts in the series, and if you have topic ideas, feel free to share them, as this is a group project, and your opinion matters.