Posts on Social Media

14 Digital Imperatives for 2014

Posted on 01/01/2014

Slide1Welcome to 2014! This is the year to go “all-in” with digital marketing both as a marketing executive and for your company. As the saying goes, you can’t learn to swim if you don’t get in the water so let’s dive in.

Here are 14 things to do in 2014 – some are for your personal brand as it reflects on your company and some are for your company overall:

  • 1. Claim some LinkedIn Limelight. LinkedIn is your virtual resume, your professional credential and a key part of your personal brand that reflects directly on your company. Spiff it up, add presentations, recommendations, etc. to showcase your amazing talents.
  • 2. Go SEO yourself. Google your name and various combinations of your name, title and company. What do you find? Is this the brand you want others to see? Your search results plus your LinkedIn profile are your digital calling card as an executive so time to craft a good showing.
  • 3. Give a Tweet about Twitter.  Set up your personal profile, add some lists and get active. Really, there are no more excuse on this one.
  • 4. Get Some Digital Cred. Just like you check your credit score regularly (if not, that’s another resolution list), check your digital influence score with sites like Klout, Kred and others. They are directional but often used as screens by media and analysts for credibility.
  • 5. Measure, Monitor, Modify. Take a look at your company’s metrics and related monitoring processes and modify as needed for your current business landscape and goals. If this gets out of sync, you’re set up for a potential customer service or other digital disaster.
  • 6. Do a Social Media Check-up.  Social media trends, best practices and related laws move quickly and your policies should be updated frequently. Make sure you have good legal support here too, especially if your company operates in multiple countries. Need help? Read Cheryl Burgess and Mark Burgess’ book The Social Employee – it’s a great book.
  • 7. Clean out the Content Closet. When was the last time you did a sweeping archive of your corporate website? Many companies have years of old content, microsites and other orphaned landing pages clogging up user experience and search results. domain name tech info . Time to archive.
  • 8. Build Communities… for Real. Every CMO or marketing executive worries about press, analyst, media coverage, etc. Do you manage these influential people as a community? Do you engage them or react to them? Digital marketing can help you build more meaningful and collaborative relationships here. For inspiration, read Ted Rubin and Kathryn Rose’s book Return on Relationship
  • 9. Break Bread with your CIO. Get out of the office on a regular basis and go have a meal. Talk. Discuss strategy and trends. Get past the mutual functional frustrations and create some joint-wins. Best case you’ll have some fantastic results in 2014. Worst case you’ll have several good meals, so basically you can’t lose.
  • 10. Smile and Engage. Pick an executive professional network or charitable organization (why not both?) you love and jump in. Go to the events. Talk to people. Follow on social media. Be inspired. Be helpful. Make a difference.
  • 11. Clear the Mental Cobwebs. Go to at least one event this year, or better yet two, that forces you to talk to people you don’t know and to think about things in new ways. Some great events to try are: SXSW, iStrategy, LeWeb
  • 12. Squirm and Grow. Pilot a few new channels, new media formats or new storytelling styles with your branded content. Video, mobile, Snapchat… take a look at the broad landscape of opportunity. Yes, this will make your company squirm but trying new things, thoughtfully and strategically, makes a brand healthier. Just make sure you have goals up front, monitoring in place and a deliberate way to incorporate insights back in to your brand strategy.
  • 13. Read Online and Share. If for some reason you don’t already own an iPad or Kindle go buy one. Download the apps for your favorite publications or create a web folder of Daily Reads with links to some great sites. Read and share what you like on Twitter (see #3 above). It’s easy, just click on the Twitter share icon and you’re done. You can often share on LinkedIn too.
  • 14. Inspire Your Team. A team is only as good as its leader enables it to be. So be grateful for the people who make your company great; set big, bold goals then get out of the way and let them do their magic; be a champion for new learning; foster talent for today and tomorrow. You can follow some inspirational people online as well. Try @LollyDaskal and @MeghanMBiro on Twitter and on LinkedIn you can follow all sorts of thought leaders from Richard Branson to Deepak Chopra.

Here’s to a great 2014!  #14for2014

You Are the Captain of Your Digital Destiny

Posted on 07/07/2013

At least a few times a week; someone asks me how to outsource his or her digital footprint. I find these conversations hilarious. Imagine sending someone else to a cocktail party to act and engage as you? Or what if you sent someone else to impersonate you in a major business negotiation without telling the other parties? Most people find these ideas absurd because outsourcing yourself does not work in real life and it does not work in your digital life either.

Outsourcing yourself in the digital world gives the appearance that you:

–  Have no real personality so why would anyone want to connect with you anyway

–  Are not very bright so you have to rely on others for the intelligent things to say or clever comebacks so again, why would someone connect with you

–  Are exceedingly high maintenance and no one likes to hang with a diva / divo for very long 

Odds are you are not an international superstar so it is time to make peace with the fact that building a great digital footprint is important to your current and future success.  And like all things critical to your success, it means you have to dive in and make it happen. Yes, you do in fact have to be the captain of your digital destiny.

Work on getting the basics right. I wrote a post titled SEO Yourself that is a good, general digital plan. For your social media presence you should aim for the following as general rules of thumb:

Name It and Claim It:

LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook should be your foundational profiles. Fill in your profiles completely and then for Facebook decide if you want that to be more personally social or broadly social and set your privacy settings accordingly. Add other channels that are fun or important to your goals such as Pinterest, Tumblr, Instagram, Vine, YouTube and so on.

No One Likes a Real or Digital Snob:

Do not be LinkedIn snob and require people to enter your email address to send an invite to connect with you. If you do, you’ll look like you’re not serious and only have a profile “for show”. Ditto with having an “about me” profile description on any social media channel that is written in the third person. Unless you are channeling your inner Bob Dole and refer to yourself in the third person in real life, speak in first person in all your social profiles.

Connect with Yourself to Connect with Others:

Cross-link your profiles so people can find you more easily and learn about you without always having to bounce out for a Google search. Use the same picture on your core social media sites and make sure the photo is of you and looks like you.  A photo on a social media site should enable someone to recognize you at an event and have a meaningful conversation with you so please no dog or baby photos as profile pics. Hire a professional photographer and look like a real, put together person.

To Be Interesting, Be Interested:

A senior executive at a major global corporation once said to me “Katrina, I think to be interesting you must first be interested, do you agree?” Of course I did and had not heard something so crucial be worded so succinctly – it is now one of my favorite quotes. So be interested – read, follow people, learn. As Diane Sawyer says… wake up curious every day. Then think, comment, engage, let your ideas and personality come through and you will be interesting as a result.

Creating a great digital footprint for yourself is both fun and crucial. So dive in and make it happen. Look for mentors and tools to help and be the captain of your digital destiny.  See you online!

 

 

Secrets of Being a Fierce Presenter

Posted on 05/06/2013

Fierce… the urban slang term meaning not just seriously on your game but seriously reinventing the game in real time by setting a new, very high bar. Being fierce implies a sense of style, presence and authority that draws people in. Being fierce means being consistently exceptional. 

I do many industry presentations and keynotes each year. It’s one of my favorite things to do. Where else can you meet so many interesting people; get outside the bubble of your day job; and learn in real time? Working in the digital arena, presenting at these live events is the ultimate test – does your digital brand match how you show up in real life? If not, trust me you’ll get called on the mats in no time. So don’t let that happen. Instead, be fierce.

So how exactly does one go about being fierce? Well, I won’t say I have all the answers, but here’s what has worked for me and garnered me a few “You are fierce!” remarks along the way – which I have to say always make me smile.

Being fierce has some intangible qualities. These are hard to teach, but can be developed with focus and time.

Confidence:

Trite as it may sound, people have a radar that detects confidence or lack thereof.  Confidence is a mix of stature, speech and presence. You need to stand, sit, walk, speak and listen like you mean it. Not in a condescending way, but in an authentic and engaging way. Show an ounce of timidity on stage and you’re toast.

Expertise:

No one knows everything and everyone knows that. So know what you know, talk about that and understand the limits of your knowledge. Continue to learn and always work on growing your expertise. Evolve your story so each time people see you speak, they learn more and offer more to you in return.

Grace:

Being gracious requires an authentic curiosity of and appreciation for a very diverse world mixed with a healthy respect for others. Being gracious is being respectful and at the same time, holding true to your values so respect is returned. Being gracious on stage is difficult at times but practice will make it easier and you’ll build a stash of ways to shut down hecklers, deal with very rude questions, convert or at least quiet the haters and respectfully engage the over-zealous.  

And being fierce has some practical components too:

Twisted Relevance:

Or – relevance with a twist. No one wants to pay a large ticket price for you to tell them things they’ve heard before or could find in a simple Google search. No one wants to hear you do exactly the same presentation at multiple events. Instead speak about things that are relevant and timely, but put a new twist on them. Bring in your point of view or connect data points for new insights. Twist around common information to provide a new perspective that is relevant to the audience. Be fresh. Attending the opening party of an event is a great way to get spin, perspective and examples to weave in to your talk track. Listen more than you talk at these parties and you’ll gain valuable insights into the audience that will hear you speak. These insights mixed with a few connection points to sessions before yours can bring new life to a presentation you’ve done before.

Help People Engage:

This is the practical side of being gracious. People really do want to hear what you say or they wouldn’t bother to attend the event. So help them help you. Simple but highly effective things to help people engage include putting your Twitter handle (make sure you have one, but that’s another post) and the event hashtag in the footer of all your slides. Make sure your slides are legible, the images you use are appropriate and any multi-media is tested and tested again. Include content snacks, easy to type and tweet highlights, in your talk track. Schedule tweets in advance that are timed roughly with your presentation that include your key points so people can retweet directly from you and also add their own tweets.

Show a Little Appreciation:

After your presentation, answer questions; talk to the people who come up to you; be gracious and listen to what people have to say. Also go through the Twitter stream from your keynote and retweet, reply and thank people who engaged during your talk. Continue to scan the feed and do the same over the next day. Always do a shout-out thank you during your presentation for being invited to the event and also via Twitter to the event sponsors. Saying thank you in an authentic way is one of the most powerful things you can do as a presenter.

You can be a fierce presenter with a little practice and determination. Enjoy the journey!

Are You a Maker, Breaker, Sharer or Consumer?

Posted on 02/09/2013

Companies are always on the lookout for simpler ways to explain social media guidelines to employees. Scenario guidelines connected to people’s role or jobs tend to be the most helpful.  Here is a simple model that can be leveraged for any size organization and add clarity to help employees participate well in social media as it connects to your PR strategy.

The model is four simple questions: Who can make news? Who can break news? Who can share news? Who can consume news?

Who can make news? Who can break news?

Technically anyone in your organization can make news. The news may be good or bad. People are human so you’ll end up with a mix of both. But it is important for employees to understand that while they may make news as part of their job, most of the time it is the official company channels that will break the news unless agreed to in advance.

Let’s look at common examples:

You lead an account team and you’ve worked your you-know-what off for months to close a huge deal. You brought in the big fish and are doing the happy quota dance – you’ve made news. But you should not take to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or other places with this news. Deal announcements and positioning with quotes as appropriate are best handled by the PR team. So while you’ve made news, it is not yours to break in this case. 

On the other hand, you signed up to keynote a major conference on behalf of your company. The PR team has been involved from the beginning and you’re good to go. You do a fantastic job and are riding high as you walk off stage. You tweet from your phone how much you enjoyed the opportunity to speak and the crowd’s support – you made news in your presentation by being on stage, but in this case it is ok to “break” news that you delivered this presentation and thank people via your personal social media handle. Why? Because you involved PR in advance and this is a way to personally thank those who listened to you. You should not however, take to Twitter that you had an awful experience or criticize the crowd lest you set off a firestorm of comments.

Who can share news?

You want to empower all your employees to share positive news. So again, anyone may be able to share news, the trick is WHICH news. Providing guidelines for employees to share news that comes via official corporate channels is a great strategy. They need to know what and where these official channels are – be explicit in this and don’t assume they’ll just find the right ones. You can also arm them with pre-approved, PR sanctioned, socially shareable comments in advance of some news like product launches, events, corporate anniversaries, etc.

Employees do need to know that they should not share news that relates to the day to day activities of their job, things they overheard or were said in meetings and that confidential information is off limits period. Everyone in PR and executives in general cringed at the HMV Layoff Tweet-Fest and subsequent fall-out. It’s a reminder that in particularly tense moments like substantial layoffs or with really big, positive internal news announcements – like you’re company is being acquired and everyone will make a fortune as part of the deal – people will have an immediate emotional reaction and may, without thinking, turn to social media for a release. Before such moments, preface your conversation by saying that the following meeting, announcement, etc. is not appropriate for social media per your company guidelines (all the more reason you need to get these written and review them on a regular basis). And let them know that your official PR channels will handle the news announcements and they should refer inquiries to PR.

For big emotional news (layoffs are a very common one), recommend other releases for employees – have counselors at the ready to discuss; recommend they take the rest of the day off to be with their family; offer to call someone to pick them up; etc. When you rock someone’s world, you can’t expect them to behave as if nothing has happened so help them through it in a way that is positive for all involved. 

With as much preparation as possible, you will still have a problem at some point. This is not an “if” question. This is a “when” question. So always have the critical response digital team at the ready in advance of such announcements. Real time monitoring and response strategy will make or break your brand. 

Who can consume news?

This is anyone in the world with social media. Never before has the world’s real time information been so readily available to anyone, anywhere, all the time. This is important to keep in mind and also to remind your employees that this is true. Social media can be deceiving… you can be alone on your phone tweeting away without realizing that you’re suddenly trending. A PR disaster is one tweet, one share or one click away. So remind employees to consume news with a grain of salt and to remember that anyone and everyone can be listening – and they usually are.

Scenarios with real examples from your business are the best ways to help employees understand…

Who can make news?

Who can break news?

Who can share news?

Who can (and will) consume news?

Simple, straightforward, empowering… these are the cornerstones of good social media guidelines.

Happy New Year and May All Your Pins Come True!

Posted on 12/30/2012

It’s nearly 2013 and time for my annual ritual of making my vision board for the coming year. I love doing this. It helps me crystalize my goals and sanity check values. A vision board is a visualization of what you would like to be, do, have, feel or accomplish in the coming year.

Never being one for the arts and crafts version (too messy, paper everywhere and I’m limited by the magazines on hand), I’ve always done a digital board. I’d fire up PowerPoint and snip away on a variety of websites to build my board.

This year I decided to try making my vision board on Pinterest. I created a private board (sorry, no super secret scoop on me here) and went to work. Overall, I really enjoyed it and it works very well. Give it a try for yourself. Here’s some tips to get you rolling:

  • Decide if you want to make a public board or a secret board. Secret boards are only visible to you; regular boards are viewable and searchable by anyone. This is entirely a personal choice, but decide when you set up your board because you can’t change it later. On your board page, if you scroll down, you’ll see the place to add secret boards.
  • Download the Pinterest plugin before you start. If you haven’t already, download the plugin which allows you to pin from any site. Many sites do have a Pin It button, but not all do so the plugin makes it very easy to pin the image you want.
  • Use the image search function in Google or Bing.  This is very helpful to find images related to emotions or states of being. Want to stay in your Zen zone this year? Or would you like to take a fantastic vacation to an exotic location? You’ll find some great images that are easy to pin by searching on key words and clicking the image results option.
  • Bookmark interesting sites you find along the way. One of the best things about making a Pinterest vision board is you end up with bookmarks to great information or inspiring sites as you go. All useful as you go on the journey of making your vision a reality.
  • Pin personal pictures or items easily. Pinterest has a function that allows you to upload a Pin from your computer. This is great if you want to add a photo of your family, friends or vacation spot or anything else that is important to you.
  • Add comments to yourself on why this pin is important to your vision. I love that Pinterest allows you to essentially add notes to yourself for each pin. As an example, I pinned a great photo related to being in a state of gratitude. I added a vision note to myself for the pin that said “Be always in a state of gratitude for life’s amazing blessings” as a reminder for why the photo struck me and how it related to my vision for living in a state of gratitude each day.
  • Your Pinterest vision board is always with you. A Pinterest vision board can go with you anywhere – to work, out and about, at home, anywhere you are.  So I can bring up my vision board on my phone, iPad, PC or anything connected to the Internet to check in on my progress or refresh my memory of my vision or adjust my board as needed.

This was a fun and enlightening project and I hope you will enjoy it as well. Please share your Pinterest vision board tips and tricks here too. If you’d like to follow other topics by me on Pinterest, you can find me at Katrina Klier.

Happy New Year and may all your Pins come true!

Don’t Miss a Tweet!

Posted on 12/26/2012

If you use Twitter, you eventually reach the point where the blur going by your screen is as fast as the credits at the end of a movie. Information flies by at a speed too fast to read, let alone digest. Lists are a great way to organize it all. Some ideas are below and please chime in with your list tips as well.

Foundation Lists Are Your Core Information:

Foundation lists include things you’ll follow for the long haul related to your career, business, family, hobbies, etc. Some may be basic lists, like my News list with Bloomberg, Forbes, etc. Others may be a list of influencers in a given topic area such as my Press And The Like list that includes media, journalists and prominent bloggers I like to follow. You may also have lists related to a hobby or your favorite type of music or your family. I have teenage kids, so I have a private list to follow all of them – a little parent 411 is never a bad thing. If you follow people in various parts of the world, you may want to organize them by time zone lists so you can catch what they tweeted while you were asleep. The organization of topics is up to you, but in general these are categories of information or groups of people you will follow long term.

Efficiency Lists Are All About Speed and Engagement:

These lists save you time and have a short life span. For example if you’re attending a conference, you’ll want to set up a list of the key speakers, journalists, bloggers and people you want to follow at the event. You’ll also include a saved search on the designated hash tags. This lets you efficiently follow along with the digital conversation; retweet the good stuff; and keep a log of important items via favorites for post-conference blog posts or other write-ups. Really good conference organizers will set up lists in advance that you can subscribe to which include all the speakers, official press and conference accounts. Another type of efficiency list may be related to a topic you’re researching for a specific project. You’ll delete these lists once they’ve served their purpose.

Private Lists: If you wouldn’t walk up to a stranger at a cocktail party and start a conversation about a topic, then it goes on a private list.

Twitter allows you to mark a list as public meaning it is viewable from your Twitter profile or private which can only be seen by you. If you have a business list focused on monitoring the Twitter streams of your competitors or your employees, you may want to make that a private list and decide whether to actively follow them or just add them to the list in “lurk” status. Private lists are also good for interests that you consider personal – perhaps you follow motivational accounts (quotes of the day, scriptures, etc.) or expert advice that for a personal endeavor (New Year’s diet or a medical condition) or companies you may want to work for someday.

Social Media is Social so Public Lists Are a Great Way to Connect:

Adding people to a public list is a great way to build connections. Topical in nature, these lists can be viewed from your Twitter profile and others can subscribe to them. People are usually flattered to be added to a list and will send a thank you and may even promote your list or follow you as well. As an example, I have a list called Social Movers & Shakers that includes people who are leaders in social media; have interesting information to share; and whose perspectives I like to follow closely. I also look through the lists of some people I like to follow on Twitter and search for new people to follow or subscribe to their list to get all the updates on the topic.  If you want people to subscribe to your list, name it something interesting yet descriptive. Avoid the “Group #1, Group #2” naming because it isn’t socially interesting and doesn’t tell people about who is on the list. Rule of thumb here is to make public lists that connect to your personal brand.

A List for Everyone and Everyone in a List:

Put everyone you follow on a list. This helps you keep track of them by topic area and also to see if they add value over time or if not, you can easily un-follow. Lists help you balance whom you follow across topics to quickly see where you’re light on number of people you follow on a given topic so you can add more as well as where you follow too many to track well which may mean splitting the list in to sub-topics.

To put your list strategy into action, you’ll want to add a column for each list to your favorite Twitter tracking tool. Now you have the full radar, neatly organized so you can quickly scan for interesting items; engage in conversations; and not miss a tweet.

If you have list advice and favorite lists you follow on Twitter, please share so we can all benefit.

@KatrinaKlier

Hash Tag Hijacking… Say No to Black Hat Tactics

Posted on 10/22/2012

I was at PubCon last week which is a very good show. It’s a geeks’ geek show about SEO and social media and a great place to network for new ideas. That said, one presentation really took me aback. A representative of an agency (name intentionally left out) did a “best practice” type presentation on hash tag hijacking. I was appalled.

For those of you unfamiliar with some of the black hat social media tactics, hash tag hijacking is like a repeated photo-bomb on a twitter hash tag, usually associated with a company or brand event. In the example presented, the agency represented a company that competed with one of Salesforce.com’s products. Salesforce was having an event and of course, being very active in social media, the company had set up some hash tags so people could follow along in person or virtually. Hash tags for events are a common and very good tactic. The agency in  question built a white paper on why their client’s product was better than Salesforce’s with a side by side comparison then proceeded to highly promote the download of the whitepaper by leveraging the hash tag from the event essentially hijacking the purpose and audience connected with the hash tag.

Did they get lots of impressions – yes.

Did they potentially get a lot of downloads – possibly yes.

Did they create a positive and lasting brand connection – doubtful.

Did the agency alienate some prospective clients – absolutely, me included.

Many forget that in social media the world is watching… always. There is no place to hide so HOW you engage is as important as WHAT you engage about. I’m a big advocate for organic social media growth because social media is about engagement, connections and conversations which are not quick hit things. If you want to buy impressions use more traditional media like TV, print or banner ads, not social media.

True there is a lot of debate about the time required to build organic growth in social media and the trade off of the stickiness of organic growth (usually stickier) vs the hit and miss of other tactics. If you want 10,000 Twitter followers very quickly, there are tools and services to do that but it’s a body count, not a quality community result. Like growth hormones in meat, you get nice fat chickens in a few days but the long term health effects of eating that chicken are not good. Black hat social media is the artificial growth hormone of communities and they won’t stay healthy very long. Do you really want your brand associated with that?

As a CMO and CEO it’s important to understand these tactics so you can ask good questions of your agencies and not end up in a situation you’ll later regret. Also, you’ll want to include guidance about hash tag hijacking in your employee social media policies so no one (with all good intentions for sure – people are proud of the products / services they make) decides to have some “fun” at the expense of your broader branding strategy.

So skip the hash tag hijack and earn your connections the old fashion way – by building value and connection. Your connections may be fewer in number, but they will be huge advocates for your brand and over time be some of your best customer recruiters possible.

Remember, the world is watching… always. Make sure you leave behind the brand impression you want.

Want Brand Advocates? Connect Your People Strategy to Your Brand Strategy

Posted on 07/25/2012

Post as seen on The CMO Club site:

With the broad use of social media, prospective customers, employees and suppliers form opinions about your brand and company long before you ever interact with them directly. True, they see all the campaigns and focused PR efforts you put in market, but they also see the sentiment in posts from your employees on social media, see the talent movement in and out of your company and see where people go after they leave you. And, they can see whether your former employees remain fans of your brand long after they are required to. And they see whether former employees continue to engage with your company… or not.

For CMOs that means it’s time to make the VP of HR your branding partner.

The data plays this all out. According to Mercer, 40% of employees aged 25-34 are currently considering  leaving their present company. The same is true for 44% of employees under age 25 and 32% of employees in total. The under 34 workforce is extremely active in social media and social networking – they often will take calls or give opinions on jobs, companies, brands and executives when asked. So if you treat your employees well while they are with you and especially as they leave, you stand a better chance of them being brand advocates and company advocates long term.

This is precisely why companies need to connect their people strategy with their brand strategy. Deepak Chopra was recently interviewed for a Forbes article titled Deepak Chopra on Enlightened Leadership. Dr. Chopra quotes Gallup research which showed that 25% of the US workforce is engaged, meaning they enjoy what they do and 75% are disengaged and do not like what they do. As you can imagine, it is difficult for people to be advocates of a company brand when they dislike their job, company culture, manager, etc. That means the vast majority of people on social media today do not have positive things to say about your company and your brand.  If you’re a business leader, that should make you very  nervous.

Dr. Chopra offers good advice – be a genuine, authentic and human leader.  According to Dr. Chopra’s interview, the statistics speak for themselves:

If your boss ignores you, your level of disengagement goes up by 45%. If your boss criticizes you, it goes down to 25%, because you’d rather be criticized than ignored. If your boss notices your strengths, your rate of disengagement goes down to less than 1%. How we treat people has huge economic implications and yet it’s totally ignored by leaders in the corporate world.”

So if you acknowledge and leverage your employees strengths, they are 99% engaged which means they are happier and more likely to be an advocate for your brand and company. Connect your people strategy with your brand strategy in an authentic, strength recognition based way and the advocacy effect is all good. That seems like a pretty good deal to me.

No Mindshare Taxation without Brand Representation!

Posted on 07/02/2012

I guess you can tell from this blog entry title, I have been following too much political news lately. So dust off your American history and hang with me. The consumers have spoken… no mindshare taxation without brand representation!

We see information about brands all day long – some put together by the brand itself; some by loyal fans; some by consumers-done-wrong. But with the proliferation of social media and Web 3.0, brands have little to no say over what they stand for any longer. People discuss your brand, their experiences with your products, their friends’ experiences with your products, competitive product experiences, what this all means to them etc. at any time with nearly anyone. While this has always been true to a certain extent, the wide spread acceptance of social and mobile media has added a layer of visibility to these trends that brands had been blind to in the past.

Your brand stands for exactly what people say it stands for – period. Social media has democratized your brand whether you wanted it to or not.  

Forget the traditional branding briefs, value pillars and so on. All this is well and good for ideas, but if you do not allow people to participate in your brand identity and help shape it, do not expect to get mindshare or loyalty from them.

People want to have a relationship with a brand or product. To create a relationship with your customers your brand has to have things in common with them, create a lasting and evolving emotional connection and deliver value over time as well as receive value back to your brand. In short, your brand has to have a community relationship where your customers experience your brand in a unique way that is memorable to them. So embrace the community and enlist a little help from the New Hampshire state motto by adopting a “live free or die” approach to your brand. Let your brand be free from the confines of traditional marketing and the mindshare you garner may just surprise you.

For those of you that live in the land of metrics, scorecards and an infinite fear of the color red, this can all be very scary. But in reality people have always been this way. For all time, people have wanted connection with others for some reason or another. Now, however, people can connect seamlessly, constantly and universally if they choose. Whether your brand gets any of this connection opportunity or mindshare is entirely up to how your brand chooses to participate. Mindshare is a human characteristic. Thought, reasoning, perspective, feelings and emotional connection are what make us human so why shouldn’t your branding be human as well?

One of the best recent articles on the emerging view of human-centric marketing comes from the team at One to One Global. I recently came across an article Jeremi Karnell posted on MarketingProfs and was intrigued. He partnered with David LaPlante to produce a short presentation on the evolution of marketing from brand centric to customer centric to now human centric marketing. I have to say, the presentation is inspiring and well worth a look. Here are some of my favorite points (paraphrased)…

  • To create a human approach (and therefore garner mindshare) your brand must have purpose. This goes beyond the traditional value pillars of a brand to include a variety of senses of purpose that your customers can experience in their own way.
  • Be improvisational. Brands that are in the moment of a customer’s experience, sharing with the customer and receiving meaning back in return from the customer create the most lasting and valuable human connections.
  • Be contextually relevant to create a human connection. Rather than build mounds and mounds of content, choose simple insights and examples that are delivered in a contextually relevant way to your customers so their experience is truly delightful. And remember to enlist help from your customers as to what these insights are and the context that is most memorable, from their point of view.

Your mindshare after all is highly valuable so why would you share it with a brand that did not value it?  So take a break from all the political debate, fire up your favorite browser, grab your favorite summer beverage and be inspired.

SEO Yourself! Build Your Personal Brand Online

Posted on 05/13/2012

I had some requests for this post which originally was a guest post on the Women in Tech blog. If you’re spring cleaning your life, doing a little spring cleaning for your personal online brand is a good idea. SEO is a key piece of this. I hope you enjoy the post and please add comments on how this has worked for you.

With more than 2 billion people in the world active online, the first encounter someone has your personal brand starts with a simple online search of your name. Like it or not, your personal brand is primarily your digital brand, and further conversations with you will happen (or not) based on what people learn about you online. Advocating for yourself online is more important than ever, no matter what business you are in.

So how do you stand out? How do you advocate for yourself online? Well it is as simple as doing search engine optimization or SEO for yourself.

A few simple steps will have you on your way: Plan, Research, Engage and Focus your impact. Here’s how it works:

PLAN:

First you need to decide the top 3 things you want to be known for by anyone doing a search on your name. What are the most important things for people to know about you? List 3 things in priority order.

As an example, my list is:

1. I have an amazing track record of building new businesses with high profitability that is useful for my current and prospective employers.

2. I am an expert and executive in digital marketing and want to continue my career here.

3. I like to help people with marketing and career needs.

Your list may include all career items or a mix of career and personal items such as social or community contributions, political activities, or hobbies. There is no right or wrong answer as to what should be on your list. This is a personal choice and you are the only person qualified to make these choices for yourself. So list you top 3 things for people to know and move on to the research phase.

RESEARCH:

To improve your SEO standings you need to know where you are today, so fire up your favorite search engine and type in your name. What comes up on the first page of results? Is it populated with the many contact scraper sites that claim to have your email, phone number, etc.? Does it come back with lots of results for someone with the same name but who does things you do not want associated with your brand? Do any of the things on your top 3 list show up on page 1? Make note of the results, you will need them later on.

If you have a fairly common name, consider ways to make yourself stand out. These include using a middle initial in everything you do or using a nickname (but please nothing tacky or overly pop-culture-of-the-moment) or including a personal tag-line. The tag line is helpful if you have a unique title in your career or you own your own company.

Research the hubs of expertise and content in your top 3 list. Where are the centers of gravity online for what you want to be known for? As an individual, the fastest way to improve your SEO is to go where the traffic is. So look through the top search returns for your priorities; notice the types of sites, ways to engage on these sites and language used. True die-hard SEO has some very scientific ways to target sites and key words, most of which involve a marketing investment, but these simple steps will get you started for your personal brand. Choose no more than 3-5 target sites to focus your efforts so you avoid spreading yourself too thin in terms of both time and impact.

Using myself as an example, LinkedIn is the most prevalent professional networking site for what I do (my first priority); Twitter is a credibility booster (my second priority); and a blog is the best way to showcase original content (my third priority). So these sites became my targets to create my online center of gravity and improve my SEO.

ENGAGE:

First, go back to the search results for your name as they appear today. Look through all the links on the first 2 pages of search results and remove yourself from any lists or databases that do not support your overall top 3 list for your personal brand.

Second, go to your target sites found during your research and add yourself to the mix. Set up a profile on LinkedIn and add contacts as an example. Go all-in and be a full and active participant in these centers of gravity. Fill out your profile completely and double check all your privacy settings to make sure you are comfortable with them.

Third, create cross links in your target sites. It’s called the worldwide web for a reason and the search engines are spiders also for a reason. Spiders can’t crawl unless there is a connected web to maneuver. So… build your personal web. Create links across your profiles and content for yourself so the search engines connect you across the web.

It helps to choose a primary site or home base for yourself where you will direct the majority of searches for you. For me that meant deciding LinkedIn was the primary place I wanted to be found as it most closely supported my number one item on my list. From LinkedIn, you can find my Twitter feed and blog connected to my profile. From my Twitter profile you’ll find a link back to my LinkedIn profile and on my blog you’ll find both my LinkedIn profile and my twitter feed again. These are my 3 target sites of my digital presence and you can get to all of them by starting at any one of them. So build your web by linking together your chosen sites and make sure you have content in these sites to support your top 3 priorities.

FOCUS:

Contribute regularly to your target sites. If you’ve cross-linked this is pretty easy to do and can be automated to a degree. As I mentioned, my Twitter feed is connected to both my LinkedIn profile and my blog so every time I tweet, the Twitter content automatically goes to LinkedIn and my blog without me having to do anything extra. If you are unsure what to contribute, start by simply forwarding or amplifying others’ content in your target sites. “Liking” or “sharing” within these sites is an easy way to introduce yourself to the community and show that you are a good community member. From there, you can add other outside content or unique content you developed yourself.

If you choose to use pictures in your profiles, make sure they are tasteful and support the brand you want to portray. Also make sure the picture quality renders well on the web and in the sites where you are profiled. This is the first intro most people will have to you so make sure it is of the highest quality. Remember the old saying “you never get a second chance to make a first impression.” This is very true in the online world as well.

Check your search results on a regular basis. Continue to remove yourself from places you don’t want to be. Also take note of which sites you have engaged that seem to pop you up in the search results so you continue to focus your contributions in places of impact. Over time, when someone searches for your name, you want the first page of search returns to come back with items aligned to your top 3 priorities. Other ways you can see how your SEO is progressing are through some free tools such as Klout, Identified and many more.

Doing a personal brand SEO effort helps you advocate for yourself and have control over what others know about you. Whether you’re looking to build your career or contribute to your community, people will find out about you first by how you show up online. I hope these tips will help you advocate for yourself and let people know what an amazing woman you are.

Good luck to you all and I’ll see you online!

Katrina