Who Are You on the Web? A Guide to Personal Branding

Personal branding

As Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, has said: “Your brand is what people say about you when you are not in the room.”

Many people do not give enough attention to their personal brand. It hasn’t been until recently that people have decided to manage and control their brand.

Personal branding is probably not the first thing we think about when we think of branding. Many people look at marketing for companies and products, but not our personal brand. However, in the digital age these tactics are necessary in order to put a positive image of yourself on the Internet. We no longer live in a world in which if you do something well, you will be recognised for it.

Personal clarity is essential to demonstrate you know what you are promoting.

So, what is a Personal Brand? Personal branding is the complete experience of someone having a relationship with who you are and what you represent. It sounds like a pretty big deal, so here is a list of the top techniques to begin your journey into personal branding.

1. Define your Personal Brand

No one will know about your brand unless you know about it. The key to this is to look inside yourself, find your core values and your niche. Ask yourself, ‘what is it about me that is unique?’ Personal clarity is essential to demonstrate you know what you are promoting.

Your brand needs to be directly linked to your core values and must maintain consistency through all media platforms.“Doing” social is very different than “being” social. “Being” social in a natural way and representing your Personal Brand online should not be difficult, as it is just an extension of who you are.

2. Search yourself

Sign out of your accounts and search for yourself on Google and on any other websites on which your brand can be found. For example, if you are a photographer, it is important to check Flickr, Photobucket and other photography websites for yourself. Be sure to check out all variations of your name including searches adding quotation marks. In the search engine world, there are a couple of categories you can accidentally slip into, which can damage your personal brand.

Most people do not represent their Personal Brand because they do not know it exists. If you do not know your brand exists, you could easily fall into the wrong category.

Negative content online

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Many personal brands fall into one of three categories:

  1. Negative category: The negative category holds people who practise poor personal branding. They might not know it, but the images from a drunken night could be the first image that surfaces on Google after a quick search of their name. In many instances, the people in this category might have had a comment argument on a news website that resurfaced or a poor review on a work related website. Negative content online can easily ruin a reputation and a Personal Brand.
  1. Irrelevant category: The majority of people who search their name fall into this category. The irrelevant category houses people who might not find anything of importance in their search that relates to them. In personal branding, being relevant and active is key. If a random image or article pops up in a search that has nothing to do with your branding mantra or core values, it is not the right type of branding.

Irrelevant content online

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  1. “Hey, that’s not me” category: If you run a search for yourself on the Internet and instead find someone else, that is not positive personal branding. The worst case scenario is if you share a last name with a criminal or someone who is leaving negative tracks on your name. If you aren’t present online in a positive way, anyone could mistake you for that criminal.

3. The best way to improve your results

The best way to get out of the above three categories is to create positive content. There is no way to hide that negative content you so desperately want to destroy, however, pushing up positive content can hide that blemish on your personal brand.

Some other means of bolstering your personal brand:

  • Claim your domain name and build a personal website or blog. An easy and cheap way to claim your first and last name as your domain is with NameCheap. Here is a list of blog platforms that rate highly with search engines: WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr, about.me and Weebly.
  • Content is king. Keep your website active. Search engines like Google love updated and active content. If you are blogging, try to create relationships with other bloggers in your field to create a guest blogging network.
  • Social networks: Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Google +, Meetup, etc. are a great way to start your online presence because they rank high on search engines. Just remember to keep it clean, nothing is ever really private on the Internet.
  • Cross link your social media platforms and share away! Self promoting is always suggested in moderation. Don’t be that person who only talks about themselves, though. For example, if you have a blog or website, post your social media links on your home page and vice versa for your all your social media platforms.
  • Set up Google Alerts for your name and keywords that have to do with your personal brand to help stay aware of your impressions. If you find you are mentioned in a negative light, be sure to boost your positive content above the negative.

4. A superstar who is rocking Personal Branding out of the water

Sheryl Sandberg

COO of Facebook
Author of LeanIn

Lean In on Facebook

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When Sheryl Sandberg is typed into the Google search box, she dominates the top results. She is not only just at the top, but also holds only positive content. All of this content has to do with her personal branding and her mantra “Lean In”, from her award-winning book. Ms Sandberg holds her core values close to her, which is demonstrated clearly in her personal branding.

As the COO of Facebook, Sheryl Sandberg, of course, utilises Facebook for her online personal branding. Ms Sandberg is always consistent with her messaging through all forms of media. She continuously strives to bring attention to her core values of female empowerment and her mantra “Lean In”.

Ms Sandberg also uses Twitter. She constantly keeps the conversation going around her core values with all of her followers. She also uses cross-linking on her Twitter to promote her Facebook page and constantly maintains her professional Lean In motto.

Who are you online? Do you use great personal branding tactics? Be sure to share your thoughts in the comment section below.

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