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How to Build and Optimize your Brand Online

When you create your own brand, it’s akin to creating your own mark and releasing it to the Internet. It’s as much a part of you as your website is. Now, a more relevant question would be: how do you build your brand so that it creates an impact online?

Whether you are running a small business website, a blog, or even transacting business through social media, you need to have a certain brand in order to gain attention. You should aim to attract followers, and from these followers, you can get a steady pool of customers when you properly execute your branding techniques. Some ways that you can do this are by optimizing your brand, creating your own community and attracting online ads are just some of the ways in order to make your brand relevant online.

Building Your Brand / Making Your Mark

Have you ever wondered if potential employers have Googled you before they invite you for that all-important job interview? Well, quit wondering – because in most cases, the answer is yes. At the very least, your future employers will perform a background check on you. With the amount of information that’s easily accessible online, they can crawl the web to do everything from vetting credentials to identifying potential risks that are related to faulty hires.

And it doesn’t stop there—more and more recruiters nowadays use their Facebook walls and other social media channels such as Twitter to actively recruit candidates and to source and build their networks and talent pipelines at the same time. Whether you’re actively looking for work or you’re just open to broadening your horizons and want to branch out to a new career path, it’s very important to cultivate your personal brand online.

It’s more than just being active on Facebook, or spamming people that you randomly follow on Twitter with tweets or messages to check out your YouTube gaming channel or your blog. In order to truly stand out from everyone else and attract potential employers (or big-ticket collaborations with big-name partners) you need to build, as well as maintain, a very appealing personal brand that is consistent across all social platforms and the web.

Identify and Differentiate

If you have experience in business or marketing, then you would know that building a solid, long-lasting brand begins with market research. Personal branding isn’t any different, except that right now, you are the business in question.

Be an active listener. Listen to the market and see what skills are in vogue, or in demand. Identify the people who are doing what you want to do, and study them. See how they are branding themselves. Determine the things that they lack and the things that you can do better than what they do. And then with this, use your skills, experience and passion to decide how you want to own your brand.

Once you identify your unique “charm” point, you can then craft a compelling brand statement that is easily remembered and understood. Go for something catchy and impressionable. Stop with the “I’m an experienced career coach with over 8 years’ experience in helping people build their careers,” and turn it into “I want to help people who are serious about turning social networking into a career. I want to help them create online visibility and a positive reputation of not only excellence, but high quality.” The use of a “brand promise” will be the basis of the specific language you leverage across all your online platforms. And of course, whatever you promise, you should be prepared to deliver.

Optimize your Social Profile

So, of course you want recruiters and potential employers find you—and in a positive light. You have to be your own digital GPS, because the Internet is a deep, dark place. Having the right keywords on your social profiles will not only get you sitting high up on the search engine rankings, but will also help generate better leads. Keep your keyword use specific; target specific targets of interest. Research jobs that interest you and then parallel that with a shortlist of skills or abilities that these jobs have in common, which you have. Populate your headlines, job descriptions, skill sections and summaries of each of your social profiles with your chosen keywords.

Tell a Great Story

There’s a saying that goes, “Content is King,” and establishing the credibility of a brand is no exception to this rule. You want potential customers to understand that your brand has a vision and will not accept anything less than 100%. Carving out a strong voice is critical in helping to build a community of advocates who share in this vision, and will also cement the claims about your personal brand. If you’re in the world of marketing, for example, you may want to consider creating a blog or even a video blog (called a vlog) where they can critique ads from the fashion industry and demonstrates ways on how they can be improved. That is one way of someone sharing to the world about their passion for effective advertising, at the same time building a reputation of being an expert in that specific space.

You have your soapbox, but what about the people who are listening to you? Don’t forget to proactively engage your community of advocates regularly. This can be done through various things such as blog posts, status updates, or sharing your digital portfolio and skills to the world using tools such as HTML to showcase and document your work. A way to keep track of how entertained and effective your digital storytelling is across all the different social media platforms is by using websites that specialize in that sort of thing, such as Klout.

While you work hard to represent and promote your personal brand online, don’t forget that it’s equally important to represent your brand offline, too. Whether you’re being interviewed, meeting new people and potential clients, or organizing events that center on your brand, and be ready to clearly define who you are and what you do, and how you do it better than anyone else in the same industry as you. You never know when your personal brand story could unwittingly win you a brand-new career opportunity.

Branding while Depositing Income

Don’t forget that there’s money to be made in having a full-time blog. Publish articles, create videos and focus on creating content that matters to you. Your audience can always sense when you’re being sincere and when you aren’t, so it’s best to be true to yourself and your brand will flourish. Once you have a sizable following, you can apply for Google AdSense, which works on a cost-per-click basis. The longer your reader stays on your website, the better, and the more they will be encouraged to click, earning you revenue.

Make Creative Noise

It’s not enough to continuously push out creative content. When you’re in marketing, as well as in the creative industry, that’s where personal branding really shines. It’s all about presenting yourself and your skills in a fresh, original way on your very own personal platform. Make yourself and your brand so useful that people will remember you. Befriending social media and not forcing it to work with you is extremely important. You can get so much exposure and collaborate with nearly anyone in the world, thanks to the Internet. Utilize the power of technology – instead of business cards; you can bring your creative portfolio around in your Apple or Android device. It saves on paper and ensures that there is always a copy of your work available online—eliminating the fear of losing a copy of your hard work.

Don’t be Afraid to Take Risks

When meeting with people for the first time, ensure that your confidence in your brand shows through. Emphasize on your strengths and turn your weaknesses into little strengths, or “charm points.” If you find that the current way you brand and represent yourself isn’t getting as much attention as you’d want, try another method. Don’t be afraid to fail, just get up and try again. Take calculated and mindful risks, and treat each failure as an experience.

Just Keep Learning

After attaining a high-school or college degree, learning doesn’t stop there. Keep growing as a person and make sure that your online persona and brand grows with you. True learning happens when you’re committed to improving and honing your skills, and listening to advice and critique while not losing sight of yourself and just continuing to get better and better as you go on through the online, and offline world.

When you create a brand, you just don’t create a logo—it’s far more than that. You create a presence, which is important, especially in this competitive digital age. In the wet cement that is the Internet, it’s important to leave your footprint and leave a lasting impression that makes people understand that your brand is worth trusting and that you have quality content and unique marketing strategies that will do it for you.

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