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12 creative ways to build and protect your name online

In an effort to build your brand or protect it, you already know the basics, but what are the unheard of ways to manage your reputation and advance it online?

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reputation management

reputation management

12 ways to build and protect your name online

Since you have the internet and eyeballs, you’ve probably read some articles about building a name for yourself online, but you’re not stupid, you already know you need to be on Twitter and you should have a smartphone. What are your competitors not doing online that you could immediately take advantage of?

To answer that question, we asked Scott Allen at Momentum Factor (who also happens to be one of the first social media professionals in the world, we’re serious). We were surprised that his answers were not only creative but unpredictable – there are two tips we bet you’ve never thought of.

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Allen notes that Ben Franklin once noted that ““It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, and only one bad one to lose it.” So painfully true. What follows is Allen’s own words – read and digest:

Whether you’re Joe Blow, freelancer, or owner of The Joe Blow Company, or simply Joe Blow, CEO of Something Else, LLC, your ability to do business is inextricably bound to your personal name. Even if you have focused on building the business brand over your own personal brand, web-savvy (and who isn’t these days?) potential customers, business partners and employees are going to do their homework, which includes finding out what they can about you personally.  And in today’s world, Benjamin Franklin’s words are perhaps even truer than when he wrote them two centuries ago.

Consider this:  every individual who has a social media account now has an online presence. That’s about 75% of Americans and only slightly lower worldwide. So unless your name is something like Zbgniew Dbrvsky, you’re competing with everyone in the world who shares your name.

On the flip side, unless you’re moderately famous (and no, slightly isn’t enough) or have been proactively building and protecting your name online, all it takes is one Ripoff Report or bad Yelp review that calls you out by name, and your name is virtual mud. If they’re really pissed, they can throw a Fiverr SEO gig at it, and it will take you months, or even years to slog your way out of it.

With that in mind, here are the top 10 action steps you can take to protect your personal name online. Some of the first ones may seem obvious, but they’re here for completeness. Keep reading and you may be surprised.

1. Google yourself. Sure, you’ve probably done it before anyway. This time, make a note of the results — namely, what are the top 20 positive or neutral results out there that are about you. You can note the negative ones, too, but we’re mainly interested at this point in finding out what you have to work with.

2. Update your bio. You want the information that’s out there about you to be current and consistent. If you’ve been online for a while, odds are that there are many different versions of your bio floating around out there. Create a short (under 160 characters), medium (one long paragraph) and long (3+ paragraphs) version.  You may also want to have a version in first-person and another in third-person.

3. Join BrandYourself.com. This is an absolutely essential tool for personal branding, and yes, there’s a free version. It will a) provide an additional URL that’s likely to rank high for your name, b) help you promote your other positive URLs with a high-quality, relevant link, and c) track your progress. While there are other steps that may have more impact, the tracking capability is why you want to do this one sooner rather than later. The free version will let you track and promote three links. If you’re serious about this, it’s well worth the $100/yr. premium plan. Submit your highest-ranking links from step 1.

3. Audit and update your current social media profiles. Make a list of all your existing accounts in a spreadsheet.  Make sure everything is up-to-date and that any links are going where you want them to go.  Also, if any of your accounts don’t have your personal name as part of your username, you may want to consider changing that. It’s not a huge factor, but the Twitter profile for @JoeBlowCEO is going to rank better for “Joe Blow” than @ThatCEODude.

4. Claim additional social media accounts. It really doesn’t matter if you’re never going to use them — go ahead and claim your name (or your variation on it) on as many social platforms as you possibly can. Use your updated bio and set up whatever links you can to your main sites and social channels. KnowEm will do it for you, for a fee. If you want to do it on your own, use NameChk to check availability. If you want to be completely thorough, you can use Wikipedia’s lists of social networking sites, Q&A sites (Quora is a biggie), and social bookmarking sites. Best recommendation: hire a freelancer on Odesk for $2/hr. or less to do it for you.

5. Set up social media aggregation & promotion tools. Now that you have all your social media channels up-to-date, let’s promote them. Must-have tools include Empire Avenue, RebelMouse, XeeMe, About.me and Flavors.me. The key to these is that they are fairly automated — every time you put out a piece of content, it gets linked everywhere. Set it and forget it.

6. Set up Google authorship. If you want Google to know what content is actually created by you, you can now simply tell it on your Google+ profile. This has been around for a couple of years, and heavily utilized by those “in the know”. Now, Google has finally made it much easier for everyone to set this up with their step-by-step guide. Link to all of your new and newly updated social profiles.

7. Become quotable. Have you ever come up with a particularly pithy or memorable way of expressing a thought? If not, it’s time to start, and if so, it’s time to share it. Whenever you think of a nice, concise way of expressing something, put it out on your blog, social media, and quotation sites. While many of them require quotes to be “well sourced”, there are some popular ones that accept user submissions, such as SearchQuotes and QuotesDaddy. If you’re a published author, you can also submit your quotes on GoodReads and if your quote appears in an article just about anywhere, you can try submitting it at ThinkExist.

8. Be a content machine. You have now created the infrastructure to maximize your online exposure. Now you need to give it fuel. There’s no hard and fast rule about how often you should post, or what mix you should have of original content vs. curated content vs. simply sharing content from others. But whatever works for you, do it consistently across multiple platforms.

9. Publish content “off-site”.  Supposedly, guest blogging for SEO purposes is dead. While that may be true for SEOs trying to do it on a large scale for the sake of backlinks, it’s certainly not true when it comes to building your personal reputation. You don’t have to do a lot of it, but having your articles published on high-traffic sites will do wonders for your online reputation. It may rank for your name on its own, but it can also gives quality backlinks to some of your top sites. It’s also a great credibility builder in your bio.

10. Give interviews. Because of the concern about guest blogging and SEO, many blogs are steering away from guest posts. But they love interviews! It doesn’t matter whether it’s audio, video, or just written. And — even better than with guest blogging — your name is going to be in the title of the post, not just the tagline, and the search engines love that.

11. Fund a movie. For anywhere from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand, you can become a film producer. “So what,” you ask. IMDB. You’ll automatically get a profile page on IMDB, and that data gets syndicated to hundreds of other sites. Look for films that match your interest and budget on Kickstarter, Indiegogo and other crowdfunding sites. Be sure that it specifies that you’ll get IMDB credit, else the only benefit will be feeling good about supporting an up-and-coming filmmaker.

12. Make a plan to keep all of this information up-to-date. Start by going back and updating your BrandYourself and Google+ profiles with all these new profiles you’ve created.  Plan on checking everything at least a couple of times a year to make sure nothing’s broken. Make sure you have all of the information in one place so that if you have a major update to your bio or links, you know where to go and what to do.

Finally, keep in mind that all of these things are just outward signs — your reputation starts with your character.  Treat people right, speak well of others, create value wherever you go, and you won’t have to work nearly as hard at building and protecting your reputation.

Scott Allen is one of the true pioneers of social media, helping individuals and businesses turn virtual relationships into real business since 2002. He’s coauthor of The Virtual Handshake: Opening Doors and Closing Deals Online and The Emergence of The Relationship Economy, and a contributor to over a dozen books on entrepreneurship, marketing, social media and other business topics. He is currently Director of Client Solutions for Momentum Factor, a digital marketing agency exclusively serving the direct selling industry. For fun, he enjoys spending time with family, making music, coaching entrepreneurs, pug snuggling, and bending Google to his will.

The American Genius is news, insights, tools, and inspiration for business owners and professionals. AG condenses information on technology, business, social media, startups, economics and more, so you don’t have to.

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Sarah Harris

    June 2, 2014 at 7:05 pm

    You really cover it all! Love the information about BrandYourself and claiming additional social media profiles. I’m definitely going to bookmark this 🙂

  2. Nathan718

    June 6, 2014 at 4:35 pm

    Great article. I haven’t run across BrandYourself before. I’ll definitely have to check some of these out

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Social Media

This non-judgmental app can help you switch to a plant-based diet

(SOCIAL MEDIA) There are many reasons people choose plant-based diets. If you’re looking to try it out, this app helps you stay on track.

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No Meat Today, a judgement-free plant-based diet tracking app.

The interest in plant-based proteins continues to grow. Healthline suggests that Americans are shifting toward plant-based meat substitutes because of shortages in the grocery store due to the pandemic, but there are many reasons to make the switch.

Plant-based proteins are considered more sustainable than traditional meat. Nutritionally, plant-based meat alternatives are often healthier. Regardless of the reason, if you’re one of the many Americans who are changing your diet, there’s a new app that can help you stay on track without making you feel judged if or when you do eat meat.

Your companion to eating less meat

No Meat Today is an app available in the App Store. You can get on a waitlist in Google Play. It’s a fun app that asks you, “Did you eat meat today?” You can even define what meat means to you, red meat, fish and seafood, poultry, eggs and/or dairy. As you eat less meat, your “planet” attracts cows. The design is simple, “don’t eat meat, get a cow.” If you eat too much meat, your cows go away. There’s no judgement if you lose a cow.

The creator, Arnaud Joubay says, “I’m not here to tell anyone what they should do, only to offer a friendly app to those who want to do the same.” It’s recommended to look back at your history to decide whether you want to eat meat or not.

Reviews

The app was just released earlier this year. Most of its features are free, but you can pay $4.99 for all the features for one year. There have been some very cute cows released for special days. In the App Store, reviews are positive, but the caveat is that the creator asks you to contact him first if you if your review isn’t 5-stars. It’s a cute app that can motivate you to eat less meat.

Here’s the link to the product page.

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Social Media

Twitter insights to engage more customers this holiday season

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Twitter wants to help you prep your marketing for the first COVID holiday season by sharing findings on what customers care about.

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Man on laptop open to Twitter, considering his holiday shopping with Christmas tree behind him.

The year 2020 has been a year like no other. None of us expected to be confined to the inside of our homes, but here we are. And now, more than ever, the holiday season is something most of us are looking forward to, even if we have to spend it apart. And social media like Twitter will be a key part of that.

So, to get a sense of what consumers expect this holiday season, Twitter UK has shared some insights to help brands better strategize on their holiday campaigns. Twitter’s official partner, Brandwatch, analyzed tweets from March to September to find out “people’s opinions and biggest concerns.” Here are Twitter’s findings.

Compared to previous years, people have already started asking for and have begun giving gift ideas and recommendations to each other. According to the data, mentions of Christmas started to increase in March. Between March 1 and September 30, there was a 10% increase in mentions compared to last year. So, brands should definitely start kicking off their marketing campaigns sooner than later.

The pandemic has undoubtedly influenced how we spend our money and has altered how we are able to have family time. According to the Brandwatch Twitter data, 59k people are discussing how family gatherings will be impacted by it. So, brands should be mindful of this, and incorporate messaging that reaches out to everyone. Messaging that makes family and friends feel connected, even if they are spending the holidays alone.

Another thing to consider is combining your efforts with local businesses. Making purchases from small and independent businesses is something that has been heavily highlighted since the beginning of the pandemic. With Christmas drawing near, this couldn’t be more important in people’s minds. Twitter has seen a substantial jump in people saying they will be holiday shopping locally. By partnering with a local business, both small and large companies can benefit from sales.

Also, health and safety were and still are at the top of everyone’s minds. A lot of people on Twitter are saying they will do all their shopping early. This will help them avoid the large crowds of last-minute shoppers.

As a result, companies should start preparing themselves to receive early shoppers. Part of preparing is making sure all health and safety measures are in place. Brands should follow all CDC guidelines and make sure they continue to be transparent with customers. Sending out a simple safety message through social media or email will go a long way.

These insights from Twitter are specific to the UK, but should still be considered. No one knew we’d still be where we are now. However, the holiday season is still something people are excited about. And, brands can take these insights to help maximize sales.

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Social Media

10 Snapchat Ad tips to increase engagement for holiday shopping season

(SOCIAL MEDIA) As holiday shopping draws near, Snapchat offers helpful tips to help business owners make use of their advertising and branding tools.

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Woman holding phone open to Snapchat chat window, casually dressed with journal and coffee nearby.

The holidays are basically here, and Snapchat wants to make sure you get the most out of your Snap promotions. The company recently released its “Snapchat Ads Best Practices: 10 Tips to Help Increase Ad Engagement” post. With these pointers and advertising best practices, Snap hopes to help companies “build visually appealing ads that drive quality engagement and high return on investment for your business.”

So, let’s get into the tips!

1. Choose the right ad format for your goals
With a lot of advertising options, Snap says you need to select the right ad type that will better align with and help you meet your business goals.

2. Showcase your product front and center in your ad creative
Displaying a fullscreen video or image of your product will encourage a viewer to want to engage more. As a result, it is good to include a ‘hero’ message at the beginning that has all relevant information, such as offers and specials.

For eCommerce purposes, products should be featured “front and center to drive purchase intent.” For apps and games, include the app’s UI, features, and benefits in the ad. Meanwhile, local businesses should highlight the services or products their business specializes in.

And, always remember to make sure your creative meets Snapchat’s ad specs so your ad can be displayed flawlessly.

3. Make your ads feel native to Snapchat
No one likes intrusive ads that scream at your face telling you to buy a certain product or service. To prevent this from happening, Snap says your ads should “mirror the bite-sized and linear storytelling of Snaps” already on the platform. These non-intrusive ads should be kept short at around 5-6 seconds. And, Snap says these more “conversational ads” get viewed more fully than polished ads do.

4. Drive urgency with relevant messaging
Don’t overcomplicate the message. This will just get people to swipe away. Instead, make sure relevant information is at the beginning and is easy to understand. Placing your messaging within the first 2 seconds is preferable.

5. Design for sound on
Despite what you might think, silence isn’t better. Snap says that about 64% of Snapchat ads have the sound turned on. And, an effective way of including sound in your creative is by using a customer testimonial. Spoken testimonials help viewers understand and better relate to the brand or product.

6. Link your ads properly
Make sure users are being directed to where you want them to go. You don’t want them clicking on a broken link. Or worse, someone else’s content. The right link is crucial for impressions and conversions. Here are Snap’s recommended “attachment types depending on advertiser goal.”

  • Drive online sales by using Web View Attachments. These pages instantly load for the user and are available in Snap Ads, Story Ads, and Lenses.
  • Drive app installs by using App Install Attachments. Snapchatters will be able to swipe and download your app. Using ‘Install Now’ or ‘Download’ as a CTA, Snap says you will have strong conversion rates.
  • Drive app engagement/app visits by using Deep Links. These links will bring existing users back to your app. At the same time, any new users will be directed to the app store to install the app. Deep Links can be added to Single Image or Video ads, Story Ads, and Lenses.

7. Test ad creative and try new ad formats
Testing something is a pretty good idea when it comes to anything. Snap emphasizes this, and says testing can give you “insight into what content resonates most with your target audience.” They recommended testing your ad creative for about 2-4 weeks using different formats. After you’ve gathered enough information, you can determine the winning format that is best for you.

8. Use goal-based bidding to bid towards your desired action

  • Goal-based bidding “allows you to optimize towards a specific action that a Snapchatter is most likely to take, such as installing your app, watching a video, or completing a purchase.”
  • Snap has several bidding strategies, and it recommends using Target Cost Bidding.

9. Broaden your targeting
After you’ve been running your ads for at least a couple of weeks, Snap says to consider broadening your target audience. Snapchat has several different targeting options. Some of the categories you can expand on are geo, gender, age ranges, and languages. Expanding your audience will allow you to get more impressions.

10. Understand your audience reach to optimize
Finally, make use of Snap’s Audience Insights. These insights provide Snapchat with data like demographics, interests, locations, and devices overview. By knowing this information, you can better understand your audience and create content that is tailored to them. Content that will ultimately maximize your advertising efforts.

Overall, Snapchat understands that “mobile advertising is a key component to any digital marketing strategy.” By offering us these tips, they are reminding us of some things we already know, and telling us how they can help us achieve our advertising goals.

With the holidays around the corner, Snapchat says they can help you reach a large and engaged audience for just $5 a day with their offerings. So, what do you think of Snapchat’s tips?

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