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:
- 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.
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)
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.
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 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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.