00:00 Jacalyn Holsted: Hello, I’m Jacalyn Holsted, and you are listening to On Point Conversations. Last week, I started a series of podcasts talking about your online reputation; how you can monitor it, repair it if necessary, and develop your own positive personal brand. Today, I’m going to cover three ways to start building your online brand.
So let me review; in my last podcast I talked about how to find out what is being said or posted about you online. So if you haven’t been online that long, then you didn’t have that much research you do; if you’ve been on a long time, been in various companies, have lots of high school and college friends posting, then that was a little bit longer process, and hopefully by now you’ve completed that research so you know what’s being said about you online and what you’ve said about your self online. Now that you know what’s out there and you know how you look online, it’s going to be time now to start thinking about your own personal brand. And it’s important for anyone who wants to maintain an online image to have their own personal identified brand.
01:27 JH: So let’s go ahead and first think about what you do before you make a purchase or enter any kind of professional transaction. So if you’re like the majority of other internet users, one of the first things you’re going to do is do an online search. You’re checking things like maybe online reviews, you’re going to verify certain information before you go through with a transaction, particularly with a company that you’ve never worked with. This is simply kind of the norm in the way we do things today, and so keeping up with what’s been happening and what is happening in today’s world, you want to ensure that you have that positive digital footprint, which is where people are going to find you first.
02:13 JH: Now, let’s say that you’re looking at a company that you’ve never worked with, or heard of, or shopped with, or been online with, or been in the brick and mortar store. What I generally do in those cases is I send them an email with a question that elicits a response or should elicit a response. And in my experience, about 80% of the time, I don’t even get a response at all to my questions, so I don’t buy from that particular company. Ten percent of the time I get a response really super late, let’s say, weeks later. And 10% of the time they’re responsive. So guess who I buy from? Yes, the responsive party.
02:53 JH: So lesson one, look at and answer messages from whatever source you get messages from, so you’re not simply ignoring them, whether that’s LinkedIn, message, text, email, whatever way you get your messages. Now, before you can even decide what your personal brand is, you have to identify your personal brand. So the first thing that I would do is make a positive… Make a list of positive traits and images you want your online presence to demonstrate. Now, for example, I want to be seen as a thought leader in the area of marketing, branding, and content development. I’m also a public speaker, so I want to be seen as a thoughtful, helpful member of the community. Another area that I want to see it be seen as as a volunteer and help in my own community for those that are maybe more needy or needing help.
03:52 JH: Whatever your ideal image and brand is, start by identifying it. Now, I suggest putting a list together. When I develop my personal brand, I put a list together and I put that in front of me, so that is in front of me every time I get online or do anything online, I think about what my personal brand is. When I’m working with a client, I do the same thing. I put this list together, I put it in front of them and we work towards that list daily. We know very clearly what we want as a personal brand.
04:26 JH: Don’t argue with others or take critical feedback personally online. Often, we get some really critical feedback, and actually there might be a truism in some of that. So just look at it objectively; take a minute to breathe; don’t respond immediately, and just see if there might be something you can take from it. Now, you will want to filter off the trolls and the people online who are just negative or very, very harsh; you might even disregard them or block some of those comments if they get very bad and are very poor language, etcetera. The other thing you might do is if you have a role model, and I have a few role models that I like online, you can look at their social media and their interaction with their followers. What are they doing to engage with their audiences? There’s really a lot to learn from looking at someone that is your model or you would like to be your model.
05:25 JH: So building your personal brand is going to take some time. That observation of the habits and techniques of others that can help you, and it will also take some time to see what they’re doing and who you want to be, your influencer in your personal brand. Now that you’ve identified your personal brand, there’s probably a case made for changing your online reputation, and that requires particular attention to your social media. So if you have accounts like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, and anything else that you currently have, make sure that it’s relevant to your personal and professional life.
06:10 JH: If you don’t have an account on one of those and you think it would help you, evaluate first carefully because you don’t want to get just inundated with all kinds of social media accounts that don’t really do anything for you. But if they do and you do feel they do, make sure that you are looking at them and opening an account with them. Now, this is an aside, but if there’s any question on how many people are using the internet, I found this really interesting, there’s a site called Internet Live Stats.com, and you can see how many people are actually online looking at the various areas online in the internet.
06:44 JH: Once you either identify the accounts you’re in or open any new accounts, you want to start by completing your social media profiles. You want to post a recent positive picture of yourself, not too goofy, if that isn’t your personal brand, and a description that features the elements of your own ideal brand image. So while you’re claiming these new social media sites or looking at your social media sites you currently have, don’t forget to make your personal site private, and you’re still going to erase any unflattering photos that may be hanging around on any of those old accounts.
07:23 JH: So at this point, take a few hours or whatever it takes, and just do what we call a social media clean up. After you’ve done that, keep track of each one of your profiles. So you want to make a list of the different social media accounts that you are claiming, clean up any old profiles to reflect your new online image, and then you can take it from there. Even if you don’t plan on using the site right away, you might want to claim that property so that someone else can’t take that over in the meantime. And it also will help somewhat in the SEO value, and you’d be surprised at how many people have the same name; you probably aren’t, if you have a name that’s very common or spelled commonly or… So you want to look at the possibility of being clear about what your name is and your business name, if this is a business account.
08:21 JH: Periodically, I do searches on social media with my name and our business name. I did find out, find some time ago in LinkedIn that an individual or company from another part of the country took my business name and logo, and then, when I approached them individually, this entity blocked me, so I did have to go back to LinkedIn, which is quite a process and explain specifically what was happening, and over time, they resolved it, so that other person was deleted and kept from using my logo and my business name.
09:00 JH: Now that you’ve identified your brand, you’ve cleaned up your social media accounts, you’ve added those social media accounts that you want to claim. Now what you want to do is start looking at, how do you build your brand online? One of the probably most relevant ways, and actually time-consuming, but good, if you can do it, is to start a blog. Now, blogging is where you can put your content strategy; this really plays a big role in what you want to blog because your content is really important. It’s important to do useful blog posts with a really good writing style that’s going to demonstrate your expertise in any of your particular fields and establish you as a thought leader.
09:48 JH: Content coming from the source, that means you, holds much higher SEO value than it does when you’re simply re-posting what someone else has written. You can also keep in mind that blog posts don’t have to be super long. People don’t read as much as they used to, so you can do something in a shorter amount. The biggest, biggest positive thing is to make sure that your content is relevant, important to your audience, and something that helps them. Now, as you grow your audience, if you continue to do this, you can do things like guest blogging, so that’s another way to enhance your blog. It’s also doing something where you do a guest blog exchange. We can talk more about blogging in the future because that’s a pretty big area and it’s one that you need to make a commitment to.
10:37 JH: Because again, the secret really is that your content is relevant to your field and something your audience looks forward to seeing. They know when you’re going to post; you need a schedule, and they know what you’re going to be talking about, and they find it very high value. So let’s look at an example of that. Let’s say you’re an entrepreneur and you’re looking obviously for more connections online, but you have kind of a weak social presence, so blogging about your experience, how you got started, maybe some of the lessons you learned, some of the lessons you’re learning now, and any other insights that you’ve learned along the way in your particular field shows your value and your experience. And never underestimate the value of actual experience.
11:25 JH: Now that you’ve taken the time to decide about your blog post and content, and this is where really the content strategy becomes very important, you want to develop a content posting schedule. I use a calendar. I find that keeping a calendar and a plan for when I’m going to post when really helps to keep that kind of become a habit. So you’re posting on Facebook at certain ideal times of the day, how frequently you want to post, and with the goal of posting certain times of the day and not being sporadic and infrequent and kind of going back and forth like you’re not really on a schedule, if you keep a schedule, it’s really good for retaining followers engagement, because your audience really does want to know what to expect.
12:15 S2: As we go back at some point, talk about habit development, this is a very good way to develop a habit when you have a particular schedule and you stick to it. Now, I would recommend that you not do some of the pre-post things where you can get some software applications where you can put in a post and you can post it at any time a day later. I would really be sure that you’re watching what post you’re doing because in this particular, the COVID 19, things are really changing quickly. And you want to make sure what your posting is relevant.
12:47 JH: So while you have a schedule and you have an idea of content, you still want to look what’s going on in the marketplace and around you before you put that particular post up, particularly if you find that that particular post you thought was relevant two weeks ago, is no longer relevant today. And another point in keeping in your mind is that social media platforms are different. For example, Twitter is very different then Facebook. Facebook looks for more longer posts; they have longer forums, less posts, while Twitter really wants something that engages really quickly with fast, shorter forum posts.
13:28 JH: Finding the balance for you is really going to be important. To me, it’s very annoying when I see the same posts posted exactly the same way to multiple platforms without the thought of who the audience is and the best way to use that platform. You may feel it saves you time, but instead you may be actually wasting time, so research each account that you have for the ideal number of frequencies a post for search engine optimization and put it into your schedule.
13:57 JH: The last point I’m making today, which is point 3, is to moderate comments. On your blog and social media, you want to adjust the settings so you can screen comments whenever possible. Now, I don’t take comments on my blog posts; partly I would like to, but partly because I don’t have the time to moderate them, so I don’t do it there. I do moderate my Facebook post pages, and I’m on Instagram and Twitter, and I look to make sure that I respond.
14:28 JH: Don’t get caught in the trap of not responding to comments on Facebook or any of those areas, even if you just put a like because it looks like you’re ignoring that particular information, and it doesn’t look good either way. So the idea is to keep the conversation going. If you get comments that are personal attacks, they may contain profanity or inappropriate language or images, I’d let those be, and you can block those users or at least just disregard them because there are a lot of trolls and people who don’t have any filters when they talk online or post online. If you get a comment that disagrees with what you’re saying, but it’s done in a way that is… Looks like it’s more supportive, you might take a look at it and see objectively whether you agree or not.
15:19 JH: Your personal social media accounts and comments online should never be a question. Your own should be from comments you’re making that are, again, based on your online personal brand, Now, I’m going to be adding to this list as I go forward in my next podcast because there are many more things to protect and build your online personal brand. So today, we talked about one, you now know all about what you currently have online; you’ve done your audit of your personal brand online. You’ve thought through your own what you want to be online, how you want to be perceived. You’ve considered handling or starting a blog. You’ve developed or will develop a calendar. You’ll look at all your social media and make sure that you are posting things that apply to that social media, and then you will monitor comments and you will see what kind of comments you get and whether you want to or need to reply.
16:21 JH: I want to thank you today for listening and invite you to join me next week as we talk more about these specific actions. We also talk about in my podcast how to reach your business goals through our changing marketplace. You could find my library or other inspiring podcasts like this one from me, at my website, which is onpointthinking.com.