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Top Ten Personal Branding Tools

by Ryan Rancatore

Building a strong personal brand is a tough task that takes time and energy.  Luckily, there are tools you can use to make the personal branding process dramatically easier.

The top ten personal branding tools today, in no particular order:

1. Google Alerts

Google alerts are “email (or feed) updates of the latest relevant Google results based on your choice of query”.  Use these alerts in 2 ways:

Google Alerts

  • Self-monitoring: Set up an alert for your name and any variations of it.  Let Google crawl the web each day and monitor any chatter about you.
  • Research: Is your personal brand built around expertise in a certain area? Set up alerts for relevant keywords and receive all the current news, blog posts, videos, and discussions on the topic – delivered straight to your digital doorstep.

2. RSS Feed

RSS stands for “Really Simple Syndication”.  Simply put, it is a way to subscribe to a website’s feed.  Do you have a few favorite blogs that fuel your personal branding fire or consistently deliver excellent, relevant content? Subscribe to the feed and never miss another post.

RSS Feed In Action

3. Linkedin

Linkedin is the world’s largest business-focused social networking site, and an extremely valuable tool for job hunters and those looking to expand their current network.  But, just signing up is not enough.  Fill out your profile to the max, grab your custom URL, and network, network, network. (Great tutorial here)

Linkedin

And, to really utilize Linkedin to the fullest, join several Groups relevant to your field.  Linkedin is the most clutter-free social network you will find – Groups in particular are full of information and people willing to engage in great discussion.

4. Twitter

Twitter can initially be quite confusing.  But hang in there, it is one of the best personal branding tools available today.  Why?  Because it is really 3  things in one package – a research tool, a sharing tool, and a networking tool.  This slideshow tells the full Twitter story.

Don’t dive into Twitter headfirst.  Dip a toe in, start by listening, and slowly immerse yourself as you get the hang of it.

Twitter GenericTwitter What are You Doing

5. Tweetdeck

Twitter is a great platform – but really, it is the 3rd party apps that turn it into something special.  I recommend Tweetdeck, a desktop application that allows you to sort by favorites and view mentions and direct messages in their own columns.  Tweetdeck automatically shortens links, and you can follow/unfollow users from within the application.

Below, I’ve set up searches for keywords.  The # sign before the keyword is an identifier (known on Twitter as a #hashtag) that signifies the tweet is specifically about that particular term.  You can set up similar searches for keywords relevant to your field, and receive up-to-the-second news updates.

Tweetdeck Search

6. Facebook

Before you roll your eyes, consider these 2  facts:

  • Facebook has 300 million+ active users.
  • 40% of these users are 35 years or older.

Facebook isn’t just for kids anymore.  Business professionals and companies are both recognizing that the way to reach your audience today is to go TO them.  If you want to form connections and build your own brand, go to where the people are.  Right now, that place is Facebook.

facebook only logoFacebook screenshot

While you are there, take the opportunity to learn – become a member of relevant groups or pages that will deliver beneficial content.  (Pages and groups explained here)

7. Google Profiles

Google Profiles is a tool so simplistic in nature that it is often overlooked.  Would you like to make it to the front page of Google search results in a matter of minutes?  Of course you would!  Google profiles generally appear towards the bottom of the first page of results, like this:

ChrisBrogan Google Search Result

By now you will have likely filled out a profile on Linkedin or Facebook.  Simply transfer over the same information to your Google profile, and link back to all other places you reside on the web.  See below for an excellent example of a simple yet informative Google Profile by blogging and marketing expert, Chris Brogan.

ChrisBrogan Google Profile

8. ping.fm

If you sign up for all the social networking sites listed above, you might become overwhelmed updating each site one at a time.  Fear no more.  With ping.fm, you can update to almost all social networks you can think of, simultaneously.  Or, you can pick and choose groups.  Want to update your Facebook and Twitter status, but not Linkedin?  Only a click away.

Ping.fm screenshot

9.bit.ly

bit.ly is the king of link shorteners, converting long URLs into a manageable, social-media friendly length.  But, bit.ly is way more than just a one-trick pony.  The real magic comes after you create and share the shortened link.

With bit.ly analytic tools, you can track how many clicks your shortened URL receives.  This knowledge turns your personal branding efforts into a more measurable activity.  Instantly, you can see who values your suggested content enough to click through to the page.  And, (peeking ahead to tool #10) this is even more important if the link is to your own content.

bit.ly preview image

10. WordPress

Last, but definitely not least, is WordPress.  WordPress is one of several highly popular blog publishing platforms, and the option I recommend.  If you only choose only one of these 10 tools, make it this one.  An individually published blog is mandatory when building a strong personal brand.

Your goal is to establish yourself as a thought leader, as an expert in your field.  You can’t do that from Twitter in 140 characters, or in a Facebook status update.  The tools leading up to this one have been building blocks – use them all, and let your blog be the ultimate showcase for your personal brand. (But, starting a blog is not easy.  Read these 40 tips for direction)

Wordpress

These are the top 10 personal branding tools today, in my opinion.  Did I leave anything off the list?  If so, recommend your favorite tool in the comments below, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Image of tools by Julia Manzerova.

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{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

Louis Halpern October 1, 2009 at 2:28 am

Great article. By opening yourself up in this way you must be careful to protect your reputation otherwise all these tools have the potential to damage your personal brand.

Ryan Rancatore October 1, 2009 at 9:19 am

@Louis Excellent point. Many of these tools act as branding accelerators,
and should be used very carefully.

Lisa F. October 1, 2009 at 11:30 am

I'm curious – what led you to choose Wordpress over Blogger? If you have an established Blogger site, do you recommend converting the blog? I find the Google Analytics tools to be very strong as well – maybe your number 11? You can see where you traffic is coming from, the referring sites, etc.

Lisa F. October 1, 2009 at 6:30 pm

I’m curious – what led you to choose Wordpress over Blogger? If you have an established Blogger site, do you recommend converting the blog? I find the Google Analytics tools to be very strong as well – maybe your number 11? You can see where you traffic is coming from, the referring sites, etc.

whatawebsite October 1, 2009 at 1:58 pm

Thanks – Ping.fm is new to me & looks really useful

Best wishes from Hamburg

Will

Ryan Rancatore October 1, 2009 at 6:09 pm

@Lisa You are right about Google Analytics (Or other similar tools). Highly valuable. Perfect # 11, or 10a, right after blogging platform. I chose Wordpress b/c I specifically wanted to run the Thesis theme. http://diythemes.com/thesis/ Great for SEO and customization. As for switching from Blogger, I don't know. This link will help you more than I would be able to. http://bit.ly/709zT Best of luck!

@WhatAWebsite Happy you found a new tool, hope it makes things just a little easier for you.

Lisa F October 1, 2009 at 7:09 pm

Good stuff – thanks for the pointers!

Jason Bretz October 2, 2009 at 8:30 am

Ryan, thanks for the great article. Ping and bit seem very cool; I'm definitely going to give them a closer look.

Steven Savage October 2, 2009 at 10:44 am

A personal website. A good website acts as a point of contact, it lets you put feeds from twitter, blogs, etc. into it. It's a central command point for your brand.

Ryan Rancatore October 2, 2009 at 11:24 am

@Steven You are 100% right. Some folks allow their blog to double as their
personal website (like Chris Brogan, referenced above). But for many
others, a personal website is a more consistent, static representation of
their personal brand attributes. http://danschawbel.com is a great example.
Thanks for pointing this out!

Steven Savage October 2, 2009 at 11:29 am

The hard truth is that all these things are going to change right now, but a website at a given URL is far more enduring, and you can use it to aggregate data, etc. You can even have it BE your blog if you want, or look into things like Joomla.

Steve November 23, 2009 at 4:38 pm

Great article and these are very helpful tools. I did not think of google profiles until this article so thank you.

Steve
http://www.squidoo.com/how-to-set-up-a-blog-advice

Ryan Rancatore November 23, 2009 at 4:54 pm

Happy to help, Steve. Google Profiles are so easy to set-up, and often can
be the easiest way to appear on Page 1 of search results for your name.

Tom Hackelman January 9, 2010 at 11:58 am

All great recommendations; I concur with all of them and it's the same list I always recommend with one exception. I personally like Hootsuite over Tweetdeck. Tweetdeck is a little cumbersome and I grew tired of it pretty quickly. Hootsuite, on the other hand, is very easy to use, has the third party plugins to work with tools like LinkedIn, Wordpress, and Facebook and it all rides on the internet – no software to download.

For those who implement these ideas in this post, you will see rapid improvement in your brand awareness.

Ryan Rancatore January 9, 2010 at 12:02 pm

Interesting that you say that, Tom…this post is from a few months back,
and just yesterday I was thinking that I really need to give Hootsuite a
try. You are thinking right along with me – thanks for the tip!

Tom Hackelman January 9, 2010 at 6:58 pm

All great recommendations; I concur with all of them and it's the same list I always recommend with one exception. I personally like Hootsuite over Tweetdeck. Tweetdeck is a little cumbersome and I grew tired of it pretty quickly. Hootsuite, on the other hand, is very easy to use, has the third party plugins to work with tools like LinkedIn, Wordpress, and Facebook and it all rides on the internet – no software to download.

For those who implement these ideas in this post, you will see rapid improvement in your brand awareness.

Ryan Rancatore January 9, 2010 at 7:02 pm

Interesting that you say that, Tom…this post is from a few months back,
and just yesterday I was thinking that I really need to give Hootsuite a
try. You are thinking right along with me – thanks for the tip!

Ben Kevin September 24, 2010 at 2:28 am

Great article! I have been using Twitter for promoting my brands, I am getting good traffic after I started Twitter promotion. I have good number of followers and is increasing by 5 to 10 a day :) I am using a tool named TweetTwain which helps me a lot to manage all my business accounts and track my progress in Twitter marketing. Happy Twitter marketing!

Ryan Rancatore September 24, 2010 at 3:46 am

Thanks for the note – best of luck to you!

Cj1 Barry October 4, 2010 at 5:40 am

The #1 tool @ the top of the list should be your own “personal domain name”, preferably your actual name if possible. Social media platforms will come & go, but if you have a domain name you have true control over your brand on the net…as long as you keep the registration current ;)

Nebula155 January 25, 2011 at 4:27 pm

Thanks for the great post Chris, very informative. These tools definitely make the personal branding process easier. Vizibility.com also provides a great way of managing your search results on Google, with a SearchMe button or link that instantly returns the search results you want others to see first. It’s an awesome way to integrate your favorite links/content about yourself online, without the “cyber-clutter” and misdirection.

Omar Uddin May 25, 2012 at 7:27 pm

Useful tools for tracking and building your personal brand.

Sherrinbull October 19, 2012 at 9:36 am

I would also add bufferapp.  Makes actually posting to all those networks a breeze!

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