Editors note: This is a guest contribution from Ann Smarty. When we first met Ann at a marketing conference, we instantly recognized her face from her social media icons. (Fun fact: She is a very petite lady. Ann stands at around 5’2″, which surprised us in light of her giant web presence!) Ann’s sharing on personal branding. All opinions are her own.
The most powerful secret to building a fairly well-known personal brand is the #BeEverywhere strategy, which I started building from day one.
#BeEverywhere means creating an illusion that you are active on a number of social media platforms, so people keep seeing you everywhere.
The strategy works with consistent branding, high-quality cross-promotion and tools that help you monitor several social media accounts within one dashboard.
The most essential component of the strategy is participating in relevant social media discussions in a timely manner.
Here’s my step-by-step guide to making this approach work:
Step 1: Consolidate your efforts around your own site
Setting up your own assets on a website is the most important step to take for two main reasons:
Your own site is your most important social media landing page. When you participate in online discussions (forums, blog comments, Facebook groups, Google+ Communities, etc.), there’s always a chance someone will be interested in your input and want to know more about you. All your efforts should be funneled toward content on your own site.
You need a place where you can build your own micro-community. It’s motivating to see your social media activity migrate to your own sites. I remember seeing the first comments on my blog coming from my forum post as some of my most exciting personal branding moments.
Control your social media context: It’s always easier to regulate and direct discussions when they happen on your own property
Step 2: Use the right tools to listen to social media buzz
You don’t need too many tools to track your social conversations. I’ve tried lots of tools and currently I am using only two: BuzzSumo alerts and Cyfe.
This site is one the most recent additions I’ve made to my list of must-have tools list. It’s freemium – and the free package comes with two alerts. You can just type in your brand name and it will email you when your name is mentioned online. It works much better than Google Alerts!
It supports basic Boolean operators which allow me to target very specific phrases. For example, I can use exact match (“Ann Smarty”), exclude any domains from my updates (-domain.com) and track one of several brand names (“Ann Smarty” OR “seosmarty”)
The alerts are very fast: Usually I am among the first to join the discussion that mentions my (brand) name. This makes it easy and very efficient to influence the sentiment into a more positive direction, clarify any confusions or just offer your help. Joining brand-relevant social media discussions and doing that in real-time is a huge part of creating that #beeverywhere image that I’ve found is extremely effective.
Cyfe is the only way to track mentions from multiple sources within one handy dashboard. I use it to track:
- Google+ search (I think it’s the only platform that tracks Google+ search)
- Twitter search
- Google Alerts
The best part about the tool is that it archives anything, so you can access the past results for analysis at any time.
Cyfe archives is a great source for testimonials, reviews and even content ideas. I go through archived brand mentions weekly to connect to people who mentioned my business on social media. I add them to friends, interact (Retweet) or remind myself in any other way to find and follow them on other social media networks.
Step 3: Learn to multitask
Throughout 7 years of my online career, I haven’t found the way to build your social media presence without being everywhere. And the only way to accomplish that is by smart multitasking.
I know there are people who believe multitasking is counter-productive. Similarly, there are very smart people who are against the #BeEverywhere concept. Both may have a point: By trying to be everywhere, you may lose focus.
But smart multitasking means you won’t get distracted – you just need the right tool:
Tweetdeck has been my secret multitasking weapon for ages: It’s fast (faster than most API-based apps that do not belong to Twitter). It’s highly flexible in terms of setting up columns and rules. It’s pretty lightweight and can consolidate the unlimited number of Twitter profiles.
Its desktop alerts feature is the one that allows me to monitor Twitter while still working. I’ve developed the habit of reading those alerts on the spot without pausing my work. To respond to each brand mention, I use the following strategy:
- I Retweet and favorite every favorable Twitter comment on what I do. This way I can curate Twitter testimonials to publicize them on my site
- I respond to any question that mentions my brand name
- If there’s any negative comments (the site is slow, the user is frustrated), I try to take that discussion offline promptly by inviting the person to personally email me for immediate help. (Emails are easier to get all necessary details to fix the problem. Plus that’s a good way to avoid a negative public discussion.)
I wish TweetDeck supported other networks apart from Twitter, but on the good side, Twitter is the network where an immediate response is by far the most essential. I can handle other networks in a dedicated fashion, without disrupting workflow on other projects.
How are you building your personal brand online? Please share your insights!
About our guest contributor:
Ann Smarty is the brand manager behind Internet Marketing Ninjas and the founder of MyBlogU. She is an active contributor throughout a number of well-known online business and search blogs including Small Biz Trends, Search Engine Journal and Entrepreneur.com.