Building up your brand has never been easier on a grassroots level with all the amazing free tools online. There are many out there and I have been victim to the mad overwhelm of trying to figure out which ones I actually need and how to use them. Here are the ones I think you should use if you want to build your credibility and become an expert online.
The Social Media accounts you need:
1. Your RSS Reader – What is a RSS Reader? Imagine putting together your dream magazine on a certain topic. Now pretend that each article in that issue comes from a page on each of your favourite websites. That means you get everything you love in one place instead of trying to keep up with all of your favourite websites by visiting them individually. A RSS Reader is like your own custom magazine. To get one you need to sign up. I reccommned using Google Reader. You need a gmail account to do so.
To fill your “magazine” with articles go to the websites and blogs that cover the topic you either are or want to become an expert in. To do this just click on the RSS subscribe icon on each of those sites. You are looking for little orange button that looks like this:
Once you click on it you will be directed to a page where you get to choose your reader. All you have to do is click on the Google option so the site updates your Google Reader. Voila! You will now be up on the latest news in your field. Remember, it’s essential that you start to read other people’s blogs and news sites every day in your field. Although they may represent competition, they can teach you a great deal. They may even become colleagues.
2. Your Blog: I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, your blog is your signature and your lifeblood. It’s your home. It’s free and easy to create. It’s where you post your expert content. It’s the location you send people from every other social networking platform. Your blog is the center of your web (can you tell I am a huge fan?). WordPress.com is one of the very best and easiest places to get started. If you want to host your own blog and have your own domain you can still install and use the WordPress software for free by learning more here WordPress.org.
3. Facebook: You’ve probably already got an account, and you probably think you know how to use it. Now it’s time to step it up a notch — make a professional profile by creating a Facebook Fan Page. This kind of page allows companies and individuals to connect with clients and “fans.” There are all sorts of brilliant applications you can use, sign people up for your newsletter, and gather and communicate with your growing community. Be sure to link your blog with your new fan page! If you want some more explanation of the things you can do I love this article by Mashable called “8 Essential Apps for Your Brand’s Facebook Page”
4. Twitter: Connecting with friends, colleagues, industry leaders, and potential clients has never been easier than with the advent of Twitter. With 140 characters, the format is just big enough to send one clear idea and share good links. This form of “microblogging” can help your brand spread in a viral fashion. Tweet about your new blog posts, your services, and new products and don’t forget the occasional personal comment. It’s yet another tool to expand your web and grow your brand. If you feel overwhelmed now thinking how you have to keep up with your blog and Facebook, you can consolidate your messages by using Hootsuite, TweetDeck, or Ping.fm. Remember, visual consistency: make sure your Twitter background is the same design as your blog or logo. If you want to learn more about how cool Twitter is check out Author of “Twitter Power” Joel Comm’s article “The Right Way to use Twitter”. He is a GOD when it comes to this topic so I recommend spending some time checking out the other articles he writes on the subject.
5. LinkedIn: If Facebook is fun, and Twitter is fast, LinkedIn is the height of professionalism online. It uses the concept of 6 degrees of separation to its advantage. People build up their business connections, look for jobs, create projects, and publicize industry events. Once you’ve created a profile, join some groups, and better yet, create a group of your own. By doing this, you’ll be meeting people much more quickly and establishing yourself as a leader. Start by connecting with people you know. Once you build up your networks, chances are those individuals will have fantastic contacts and will be happy to make an introduction to them on behalf of you if you ask.
6. YouTube: Chances are, you’ve watched a video online this week. And chances are, that video was posted using YouTube. Creating a video to highlight your expertise is a great way spread your brand and bring in new clients. Just make sure it’s as professional and engaging as possible. And make sure you brand your YouTube channel in a similar fashion to your Twitter and Facebook pages. To get started grab a Flip Camera and record yourself answering the top 5 FAQs you get and also the top 5 “should ask”questions. These are questions you wish your clients would ask because they would get so much more value from you if they knew the answers. Load them to your channel, tweet about them, post them on your blog and Facebook page and you are that much closer to becoming an expert that people think of when they need help on a specific topic!
Remember, building a brand is like creating a web. The more people you know, the more connections you make, the more recognizable your brand becomes. Think of your business as the center of this web, and work to weave and expand around it. The internet is not called the world wide WEB for nothing.