Shine Online: 5 Tips for Developing Your Online Brand
Building a brand online can seem like a daunting task. With so many social media sites and tools, it can be hard to know where to start. However, with careful planning, vision, and diligence, you can get your brand in tip top shape if you focus on a few key fundamentals. Check out these basic tips for developing your online presence and getting your name out there.
Before you begin “branding” yourself you first need to determine your identity, as a person and/or as a company. Ask yourself the question: Who am I? (And unless you’re Jean Valjean, the answer shouldn’t be 24601). What are your goals? What qualities, values, skills, and objectives make you who you are? What face do you want to project to the world?
Take time to really answer these questions. The answers will largely determine the direction of your brand and give life and dimension to your online presence. This identity will serve as the foundation for all your other branding efforts – so you want to make sure you get it right.
Once you have determined your identity, you can begin building your online presence accordingly. Social media is a great place to start. Whether you are a savvy social media user or just starting out, you should have at least a few active accounts and platforms from which to communicate and engage with your audience. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and blogs are all excellent tools.
If you are new to social media, start by building up just two or three accounts. Learn how to use them and remember to be consistent. Keep in mind your vision and goals for your company as well as the specific objectives you have for each platform.
Different social media networks can do different things for you, so it is important that you choose and utilize them accordingly. For example, Facebook is a great place to update people on your latest events or product releases, and to give personalized messages to your followers. LinkedIn, on the other hand, is a professional networking site, which is better suited toward business oriented communications and updates. But in both cases, the main goal is to socialize and connect with others in your niche so you can begin building out your brand.
Engage with People
As you develop your social networks, remember the ultimate goal: connecting with people. Use the Internet to engage with your audience. Build a following on Facebook or Twitter and engage with those users.
Respond directly to comments and tailor your platforms) to your audience. People like people. Give your name and your company a human face by engaging with others personally. The more you connect with people on a personal level, the easier it will be to build your brand and expand online.
Consistency is key to establishing and maintaining a strong online presence. Even if you have ten different online platforms from which to communicate, if you aren’t regularly active on them,, you will not be able to gain any traction for your brand. Posting to your blog, website, and social media networks frequently will establish your online presence and authority like nothing else.
To help you accomplish what may seem to be an overwhelming task, tools such as Buffer and Post Planner can automate your posts in advance, and can be used across multiple platforms). That way you don’t have to worry about coming up with updates and articles every day. Instead, you can simply schedule a queue of statuses to be automatically updated at certain times.
Once you have gathered a sizable following, you can also track when your audience is most active on those sites. Then you can tailor your posts to update during high-traffic periods in the day when your statuses are most likely to be seen (and shared).
Always keep in mind your original vision and identity. Make sure your voice is consistent across all platforms. Even though you should tailor the tone for the particular site you are using (e.g. Twitter vs. LinkedIn), your overall identity should be easily recognized and distinguishable from others.
Finally, be real with people. People notice when you are not being authentic or genuine – and I promise, they don’t like it. So remember not to get too caught up in your own “branding” mission to forget the whole point of the project: to connect with others.
Don’t be afraid to have an opinion, throw out a little controversy, or take some risks. You certainly want to avoid offending or alienating your audience, but it doesn’t hurt to share your opinion and get a dialogue going. The more genuine you are, the more people will trust and respect you (and your brand) – even if they may not agree with everything you say. In the end, this authenticity will show through in the ways you interact with your customers and audience online, and build a loyal following behind your name.