Personal Branding 101: Branding YOU Online!


This is a guest post by Daniel G Hebert (@DanielGHebert)

What is personal branding anyways? There’s this big ol’ personal branding trend going on right now, and everyone seems to want to get on the train. But what is it really? And what do you need to establish a personal brand?

A brand represents the values that a company emits to its consumers. And the branding process comes from the consumer recognizing these values, and adding meaning to it.

Wikipedia defines personal branding as “a description of the process whereby people and their careers are marked as brands.

Now that there are several different social media platforms out there, personal branding has become ever more prominent.

Here are four steps to establish your own personal brand:

1. Develop your Position
First you need to figure out what you want to offer. You need to determine what your brand’s position will be. Will you offer advice on a certain function – like marketing or finance – or will it be on a certain industry – like the automotive industry. Maybe you want to be known as a specialist – like a social media or branding specialist. Whatever you decide, you need to have an initial position developed before you establish your brand.

2. Choose your Headquarters
Facebook isn’t a headquarters. It’s a channel to distribute your position. You need a place that you can call your own. Establish a blog, like Wordpress, Tumblr, or Blogger. Or create yourself a website! If you don’t have the resources to create your own website, try something like About.me. You need this space to show off your flare. This is a place that is 100% your own, where you can share more information about yourself.

3. Choose your Media Channels
Now that you’ve established your headquarters (i.e. blog), it is time to choose your advertising channels. Most people choose the traditional channels like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. But don’t forget the less traditional channels as well. Video blogging on Youtube is great! Don’t forget about websites like StumbleUpon (their SU.PR tool is absolutely wonderful!) and the new, hot, and trendy Pinterest. These are some less traditional channels that should not be forgotten.

4. Don’t Forget the Offline
Don’t forget about branding offline. Go to networking events. Not everyone you’ll meet on social media will be a customer. Maybe the majority of your customers don’t know about your presence online, or they don’t participate on social media at all (that would surprise me though)! So you need to try to bring your online world to offline, and vice versa. The easiest way to distribute your brand offline is with a good business card. Try MOO. You can customize your business cards, showing off your own form of ‘pizzazz’ to people you meet at networking events. And don’t forget to lead them to your headquarters (i.e. your blog)!

These are the basics of personal branding. There are other things you could do to make your brand more complete, but we’ll just stick to the basics for now. So what do you think? Are you up for the challenge? What are your opinions on personal branding? Is there something that I am missing for the basics of personal branding?

Guest post: Daniel G Hebert (@DanielGHebert) a 4th year Commerce and Marketing student at Mount Allison University and Social Media Manager with NuFocus Group (@nufocusgroup).

5 Things People Forget About Viral Marketing

This is a Guest Post by Josh Ledgard (@evolvingwe), Co -Founder of KickoffLabs and SiftSocial

If you sell something your dream is that one day each of your customers will bring you two more referrals.  In fact, any number of successful referrals on an average greater than 1 would be defined as "going viral". Some content, like a dad shooting his daughters laptop on youtube, (It's OK, I'll wait for you to come back) is naturally viral without any assistance.

But the rest of us have to grease the wheels a bit to increase our viral coefficient via customer referrals. Here are 5 tips that most people forget.

Tip #1: ASK for referrals

And I don't mean slapping Facebook and Twitter buttons on your site.

Here are a few examples:

  1. After successful customer support interactions say "Your welcome! Would you mind telling 5 or 500 more of your friends about the service you received with us!"
  2. Once someone is a satisfied customer ask them to put a link to your site on theirs.
  3. Ask for a quote about your service you can put on your web site. You can never have too much social proof.
  4. Include a personal message about your goals and how they can help. For example (see below) 

Tip #2: Use email

Being viral isn't limited to online social networks. Email was the first, and still is most widely read, social network. Don't leave it out of your social campaigns. In drip emails for new customers you should tack it onto the customers "next steps". We send an email that includes 3 things customers can do to improve their web sites… then we ask them to help us out, a bit of give and take, by telling their friends about us.  If it's worth putting in your blog it's probably worth sending out an email or at least linking in your newsletter.

Tip #3: Seed the virus

When you have something worth sharing you need to leverage your first order connections. I generally scan my LinkedIn contacts (they have some great filtering) to look for people I think might be most interested in what I have to say. I send them the link with a SHORT personal message and remind them to share it if they think it's worthy.

Tip #4: Target niche communities

The world doesn't revolve around Facebook, Google, and Twitter. Chances are that your product serves a customer that spends more time in a dedicated niche community. Find out where that is and seed the your campaign there.  Become a member of that community, start answering questions, commenting, and build up a good reputation as an expert… someone that they would want to share and buy from. This group will become your influencers that help push your campaign into the "mainstream" social networks.

Tip #5: Give people an incentive to share and convert

I'm not sure why people just focus on "likes". Skip it. Run a contest or incentive program that drives conversions.  Netflix knew how important this was. For years they used their envelope real estate to remind you that you'd get $10 off for every friend you referred that actually signed up. Several of our customers have run VERY successful lotteries where every customer referral is a ticket entered.

Conclusion

It used to be that just adding a "like" button to your content, product, or service was enough. Now it's not. You've got to stand out. Stand out by taking a more personal approach, seeding growth, leveraging email as well as niche communities, and finding just the right level of incentive to get people to convert.

About: Josh Ledgard (@evolvingwe), is the Co -Founder of KickoffLabs, an online service that enables you to make a stunning signup page in 60 seconds, and  SiftSocial, a priority inbox for Social Media. (Coming Soon)

6 Ways to use Pinterest for Your Business

Pinterest has become one of the newest trends to hit the social media world. With that said, I want to share my perspective on Pinterest and it's advantages.

Though Pinterest is the social "new kid on the block", it has already shown that it means business with more than 11 million people visiting the site each week.

How it Works:

For those of you who may not be familiar with Pinterest, it is an online social "pin board", where people post pictures of things they like and comments are added by others. Think of a virtual scrapbook that you would share with your friends.

There are categories that your ‘pins’ can be organized into. For example, these categories can be anything from architecture, wedding, technology, etc. People can post favourite recipes, designs, books, fashion trends, accessories, posters … the list is endless.

If you missed it, check out my radio segment on Pinterest.

Then Pinterest centres around images, and these images are linked to sites. As well, products can be searched for by price range, and people can re-pin items that they saw and liked, which will then show up on their board of interests.

Once you have a grasp on how use Pinterest, there are a variety of ways that it can be used for your business. Here are six ways that come to mind.

1. Identify Evangelists

With Pinterest you can identify who your evangelists and early adopters are by using it to monitor trends, gather customer statistics, and understand what items people search for the most.

Then you can strengthen relationships with those brand evangelists by reaching out to thank them, as well as offer special incentives, discounts, and promotions to foster loyalty.

2. Drive Traffic

Pinterest just so happens to be fantastic way to drive traffic. An image can be placed on the pinboard, linking out to your site.

If we look at the link highlighted in the image on the right, thetechlabs.com is mentioned and is clickable. People can see these images and ‘spread the word’ by re-pinning your product or service, or by tweeting, sharing, leaving comments, or visiting your site.

3. Leverage Communities

You can use Pinterest to promote your business by placing a "Pin it" link on your company websites or blog, leveraging your existing community to drive traffic and increase awareness through sharing, and potentially generate sales for your business.

Since Pinterest is primarily a visual media where ‘a picture can say a thousand words", make sure to post strong photos of your products or services so that your community are compelled to share them.

4. Consumer Insight

You can gain consumer insight by manually monitoring shares, re-pins, tweets, traffic and comment feedback, to see which products or services are well received and which ones are not.

Those insights can then be used to identify how to improve those products or services. Some of the metrics above would have to be tracked by Google Analytics, as Pinterest does not have an analytics dashboard....yet. Nonetheless, this can help you answer market research questions more efficiently.

5. Market Validation:

Similar but not the same as consumer insight, Pinterest can help startups and businesses gain insight on how target markets may feel about a product concept or service BEFORE developing it.

For example, if you are a new startup, you can create a mockup design of a product or SAAS, linking that image to a "coming soon" launch page, and then review the data to see if your startup idea is valid.

6. Drive Sales:

Pinterest can also help you market to a particular demographic. On the site, there is a pricing category, so a product can be marketed to a certain income bracket.

Also, since most Pinterest users are under 35, a certain age demographic can be targeted as well. Be sure to include the prices for your items so Pinterest users can shop by price.

Can you think of any other ways Pinterest can be used for business? How are you currently using Pinterest?

5 Lessons Learned from a "Please Hire Me" Blog Post to Radian6

Very often in the blogosphere we tend to turn to the A-listers (HubSpot, Chris Brogan, etc) for social media insight. But sometimes the best lessons learned are not from the A-listers, but from those who dare to demonstrate what "being social" means to them. And I happen to be fortunate enough to know one of those individuals.

Meet Daniel Hebert (@danielghebert)

A Bit of Background First

If you don't know Daniel, he is a fourth year student at Mount Allison University as well a Social Media Manager at Nufocus Strategic Group (and an exceptionally good one at that!). We worked together on the account, and I had the fortunate opportunity to train him for the role (yes, I'm now giving myself an unapologetic pat on the back :P ). I am VERY proud. Dan's understanding of social media is exceptional, and it's easy to train someone who is so brilliant.

See, Dan is a sponge. I can recall sitting down with him for our first training session. He absorbed the information so unbelievably fast that within a few days he learned what takes most individuals months. In other words, he gets what being social is all about.

Well, Dan demonstrated his digital acumen yet again through his application approach for a position with Radian6, a local social media monitoring firm.

Very impressive. There is so much insight that can be taken from Dan's post. Before you continue, take a few moments to read it here, "Why I Should Work For Radian6"

Here are 5 lessons learned from this ingenious post:

 

1. Talk Is Cheap

In this digital era, words are becoming increasingly cheap and taking action is becoming king. Dan demonstrates this very well by showing Radian6 why he is qualified, and not just telling them.

Takeaway:

Don't just talk about what you know. Give examples and show your expertise

 

2. No Guts, No Glory

Sometimes you need to take a leap of faith and not be afraid to be unconventional. That's how you get noticed. Yes, there will always be the possibility of negative press, but sometimes the reward is much higher than the cost.

Takeaway:

 Be unique. Step out of your comfort zone. It might be video blogging, podcasting, etc. Don't be afraid to try something different.

 

3. Reciprocity is Your Friend

Take a close look at Dan's post. You'll notice he applies one of the key principals of being social; Reciprocity. He mentions and links Radian6 in his post, and then shares it out on Twitter, tagging them in the tweet.

Takeaway:

 Include others in your post. Often they will be flattered you did, and it can place you front and center of the conversation. For a great example of this, check out " Are You A Social Media Superstar", where I apply this principle.

 

4. Don't Be Boring

Instead of a typical, boring resume, Dan orchestrates a dynamic portfolio of skills which align with Radian6 's requirements. As well, he highlights keywords and phrases which are important to the employer, and makes use of some excellent visuals to keep the post fresh.

Takeaway:

Keep it fresh and interesting. Use images, video, and highlighted text to demonstrate your skills.

 

 

5. Be Personal

I love how Dan shares a bit about his personal interests, and not just about social media. (see below). This is truly the essence of being social. Also, it demonstrates that Dan is a well balanced and confident individual.

Takeaway: 

People care about you, and not just what you know. Don't be afraid to share some personal details about yourself. And to demonstrate that I do practice what I preach, check out my personal blog

 

What are your thoughts on Dan's unique post? What other lessons can be learned? Have you done something similar in the past? Please leave a comment below, I'd love to hear your point of view.

5 Tools to Get Things Done in a Startup

This is a guest post by Stefanos Karakasis (@SKarakasis) from  rockstart accelerator

Why this post? Because I believe startups can benefit greatly when they organize their value creating activities, via online tools, to minimize waste. In a startup, especially one working towards Product/Market-Fit, you are continuously switching between activities. The most effective startups manage this pull between ‘inside the building’ and ‘outside the building’ activities and the different schedules of the people involved, whether they are managers or makers. The key element is to identify all the value creating activities and organizing them in such a way that it reduces waiting and context switching, to achieve flow. As defined by Womak/Jones in their book“Lean Thinking” (a must-read):

When we start thinking about the ways to line up essential steps to get a job done to achieve a steady continuous flow with no wasted energy, batches, or queues, it changes everything including how we collaborate and the tools we devise to get the job done.

Focus on allocation, delegation, automation and leadership; optimizing these activities gets more things done. Why? Because you don’t want to trade time for money. Danny Iny wrote an excellent post about that and even wrote a book about it. 

Here are a few questions to ask before batching activities:

  • Which of my activities requires feedback from others?; 
  • Which of my activities have tangible outcomes; 
  • Does the activity challenge me. 

So now we have covered the "why", let’s move on to the tools, which allow you to scale flow in a startup on a personal and team level. 

Tool 1:

Trello – Use Kanban For Project Overview

Trello

is a great way for visualizing the work that needs to be done, plan and collaborate. By organizing your projects into boards, you can see in a glimpse; who is working on what and what they are working on and where someone is at in the process in case somebody can help out. 

It is easy to schedule interruptible time block for maker work, to achieve these tasks as soon as possible. For me that is in the morning between 6-8 AM. Trello

is a great tool to manage the schedules between managers and makers.

Tool 2:

Su.pr – The Extraordinary Link Shortener from StumbleUpon

Spending a little time upfront to automate routine task goes a long way. When putting yourself out there, in terms of content, you want to engage a wide audience. Su.pr is such a tool since you have the StumbleUpon community behind it. I have been using it for quite some time and it allows you to share and promote your content on Facebook, Twitter and StumbleUpon at once.  You are able to track the link real-time, since Su.pr provides you with statistics regarding the number of StumbleUpon (SU) reviews, the number of retweets, numbers of click throughs and even the traffic source for the past 30 days. 

Since Su.pr is part of the StumbleUpon family, it has an enormous community of readers (over 20 million) looking to read your post. Unlike other link shortening services, Su.pr gives you the additional benefit of your link going viral within StumbleUpon’s network. Average lifetime a post gets on SU is over a month, which allows more people to discover the link over the course of time. Just make sure you also click the thumbnail photo next to your posts and write a short review for each article. If you pick the proper category and the keyword tags, you will attract readers who are interested in your specified content that are looking specifically for your niche content. 

Su.pr will also analyze your data and suggest the best time to post your stuff for great exposure. That is where Crowdbooster and the Buffer App

come in. (For a more in depth review of Su.pr, check out 20 Million Reasons To Use Su.pr ). 

Tool 3 & 4: CrowdBooster & Buffer App – Some Followers are More Equal Then Others

Being involved in several other activities, you want to reach your audience at the best times to make sure you don’t fill up their subscriber’s inbox. When you look beyond the clicks, you want your audience to actually engage with your content. For startups, or any other business, it is key to know their target audience. The solution: dual use of the infamous CrowdBooster and the Buffer App.

This ideal couple of tools gives you an array of interesting statistics and analytics about your Twitter account and followers, including how your tweets are doing in terms of reach, the most influential users who have interacted with your content and when the most optimal times to tweet are.

You can take this last bit of information from Su.Pr and head on over to the Buffer App and manually input these optimal times as your ‘scheduled’ post times so you are sure to reach your most active followers. These are the people that you want to include in your customer development interviews. For everybody else, we have Survey.io.

 

Tool 5: Survey.io – Online Customer Development

Most of the time it’s gut feeling that determines whether your product is good enough. Something that hits you or just feels right. Trying to scale to early, can easily kill your startup.

Introducing: Survey.io, an objective metric that also gives lots of important qualitative information back.

The key question on which the survey revolves is focused on the emotion, which a customer would experience if he or she no longer could use the product. The key here is to get over the magical 40%. Then there is a great chance you can build sustainable, scalable customer acquisition growth on your “must have” product. 

Flow & Work Hacks

These are just a few tools to automate, collaborate and delegate, which should make life easier and scale flow beyond yourself. In a startup context: Ash Maurya is sharing his experiences in his

Running Lean Mastery Series

where he also provides ways to scale beyond yourself and organize your activities to reach flow on a daily and weekly basis by pitching in a few

work hacks

How do you organize your activities for flow and get things done?

Stefanos Karakasis (

@SKarakasis

) is a Startup Marketer at rockstart accelerator (

@rockstartaccel

), a new program that helps the most promising teams from around the world to launch their startups and break through on a global scale.