We’ve been through a lot already – from envisioning a brand plan, putting up your branding assets online and offline, and reaching out to people who can help you grow – so, what’s next?
In this article, we will talk about making sure your personal brand works for you and not against you. We will go through the reasons why it is important to monitor brand and how you can monitor it best.
The Need to Establish Control Over Your Name
Your name is the centerpiece of your personal brand. Everything else revolves around it. Ergo, you need control over your name if you want to be recognized in your industry. It is your personal brand’s goal to help people find you (for the right reasons).
New opportunities and new friendships or partnerships will come your way. With the advent of social media and digitized communication channels, your online personal brand now matters a lot. People who are interested in you or in a service or expertise you offer will most probably use these online channels to find you.
You don’t want them finding the embarrassing result when they start looking for you online, do you? That would not be good if these people looking for you have something good to offer to you. So, having control over your name – and your digital footprint – does not stand against logic.
Monitoring Your Digital Footprint In Search Results
When you look for a person’s name on search engines like Google, you will see a number of relevant results on the first few pages of the search results pages (SERPs). The results in the first page matters a lot. As such, you need to make sure that everything that pops up in the few pages of the SERPs is desirable, and work for you and not against you.
Can you control how SERPs show information about you? Fortunately, yes. Google has introduced Authorship and Rich Snippets. These enhance results especially for personally branded search terms like names.Authorship, however, is no longer offered by Google, but Rich Snippets are still in place.
Note that managing your name in search rankings includes other search engines and social media sites that also appear on SERPs (i.e. Google, Bing, YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook among others).
Google’s own Google+ is part of the process, but establishing a profile on Google+ can have more benefits.
With a Google+ account and profile, Google easily knows information about who you are and what you do. Make sure your Google+ account is complete – contains your website, blog, and social media accounts among other. Google will find it easier to associate these accounts with your name. As your brand grows, your information in SERPs will be richer.
To also increase your visibility (positive visibility at that), you can also reach other websites through guest posting (we discussed these in chapter four). The more articles you publish on popular websites, the more visible you become. Why? Because Google regards these popular sites very highly and search results from these sites usually turn up in the first page of the SERPs. So, the more published you are, the more visible you will become.
Delineating Your Brand From Others That Share Your Name
It’s difficult when you have a popular name – a name many people share (like John Michael, John, Joseph, Mary, Anne, Jenny, Rose among others). This will make your work a little difficult and different. Your approach to branding should be different.
In cases like this, an association is vital. You need to associate your name with an industry, field, or expertise. A simple hack to this is to add a little delineation to your name. For example, if your name is John Doe and you share that name with a few other individuals near you, you can use “John Doe The Entrepreneur” instead of being just “John Doe”.
Including your middle name in your official digital username works fine, too. For example, John Smith Doe. John Smith Doe, sure enough, is different from John Kerry Doe. Or, you can drop your last name and stick to your first name and middle name only (i.e. John Smith). Or, you can use initials for your first and middle names, and then affix your last name (i.e. J.S. Doe).
Updating Your Website and Your Social Media Accounts
Try searching for a name of a popular public figure you admire. You will notice that their personal websites and blogs appear high in the result. Notice also that their social profiles also appear (Twitter, Facebook page, etc.).
Today, search engines recognize social media profiles more because these are popular websites. The downside about ranking in social profiles it that it will often be the person’s most updated social profile that ranks highly when searching for their name (except Google+, it’s always high in search).
This means that you have to your website with fresh content. A blog is a good way to do this. You can also control the social profile that ranks highly for your name by keeping your preferred social profile updated and fresh (i.e. Tweet relevant content daily, or share updates on LinkedIn, Facebook, IG, or Flickr among others).
How To Remove Undesirable Search Listings
It’s quite inevitable to see a not-so-ideal post about you online – an unflattering photo from high school or college, a video, or maybe a blog spot post you made centuries ago which managed to find their way to the top of the search results.
These are a few of the information that could potentially damage your brand; you will want to get these removed.
STEP ONE: Reach out to whoever owns the post.
The best thing to do when you see an unflattering post online is to ask its owner to remove it. These kinds of posts can be a photo from a college celebration where you got wasted or a political blog you have written on someone else’s blog decades ago which does not make you look good today.
Reach out to the owners of the website or social media profile and ask them nicely to remove the content. You have to clearly explain why you would want the content to be removed. They will understand.
Be polite. Don’t be confrontational. Because if you are antagonistic, you are just giving them more reasons to keep those content up on their sites.
Step 2: Remove undesirable content yourself, if you can.
If you own the content, you can easily remove them. You might see a result from your old MySpace profile, and it’s quite unflattering, you can just delete the profile yourself. In social media profiles like Facebook, you can also control the posts that appear on your Facebook timeline, and the information your visitors can access. It is suggested that you review tags and mentions in Facebook, there’s a feature for that.
Step 3: Report negative mentions if you know they break proper community policies and conduct.
You can get websites to remove content that breaks the site’s code of conduct. So, if someone posts something about you that is defamatory or untrue, you can report the content and have it removed.
If there is no direct “Report” or “Flag” option, you can email the administrators of the website and show them the bogus, offending content and mention the appropriate rule in their code and ask for the content to be removed.
On social media communities, you will often get negative mentions or mentions that are offensive. These can badly affect your brand. There are times when you just have to let them go, as people will see through the person that wrote it, but if gets out of hand, you have to report it and have it deleted; or if possible, you remove it yourself.
Step 4: Strive for positivity to bury negativity.
If all steps mentioned above do not work, there’s another course of action you can take to control your brand. You can create content that is more relevant and will more likely rank, and be seen. Bury the negative results with positive ones.
As is always said, keep your personal website and social profiles updated by publishing fresh, relevant, and helpful content. And try guest posting more often.
Tools To Help You Monitor Your Digital Footprint or Brand
Manually searching for your brand is tedious. So, utilizing tools can help you monitor your brand efficiently and effectively.
Here are some of the tools you can use to help you monitor your brand:
Google Alerts is a free service provided by Google. Google is an authority when it comes to online search. It’s undisputed that it is the best search engine at present. It has excellent crawling efficiency (meaning it can index sites in their database efficiently, and feed such data to whoever uses Google to search for anything). So, how does Google Alerts work?
Basically, you can tell Google Alerts to monitor a topic, a phrase, or a keyword, and send you updates whenever it appears in their database. For example, I can ask Google Alert to send me updates about everything that has to do with “Recruitment Process Outsourcing in Asia”. Google Alerts will send you emails as often as something relevant to your alert preferences come up.
How do you use this tool to work for your purpose?
- Setup an alert for your name. Enter the name inside quotes in Google Alert.
- Update your Update Preferences if you wish. The default settings for receiving alerts are good, actually. You will get updates once a day from everywhere and anywhere your name is mentioned online. If you’d like you can set up the alerts to go to your inbox as-they-happen, which is fine if you don’t get too many results.
- You can then setup and change Google Alerts to create a list of words and phrases you want to monitor. It can be variations of your name, business names, job titles, etc.
Note: Google can only get information from sites their Google Bots can access. Thus, information behind passwords, like on social networks, is not detectable.
You can also use Twitter to search and track any name, keyword, or phrase mentioned within the social network.
While you get notified whenever your Twitter handle is mentioned on Twitter, a simple mention of your name does not appear in your notifications. You will need to use Twitter Search for that. Simply key in your name in quotes (i.e. “John Doe”). You can also search for your website and blog URLs.
Radian6 was a standalone monitoring software that was acquired by Salesforce in 2011. This tool allows you to track mentions on the web including social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter (a feature that is lacking in Google Alerts), and in forums and up to blog comments.
You can input the same information that you would in Google Alerts including your name, business name, etc. Then you can track for mentions of those keywords and phrases. You’ll have access to the information on a dashboard.
Mention is also a standalone tool that works like Google Alerts. With Mention, you can get your first alert for free so you can track mentions of your name throughout the web and some social media sites without shelling out money.
Mention includes analytics and reporting on the number of mentions your alerts get. This will allow you to set goals for the number of times you want your name mentioned each month (or whatever timeframe you desire). This can help you track your progress and calculate your efforts accordingly. After all, the ultimate goal of personal brand management is increasing awareness for your name.
Talkwalker works like Google Alerts, but with Talkwalker you can add relevant topics. It allows you to enter the industry that you work in now or want to work in, in the future.
HootSuite is more than just a tool for monitoring your brand. It is an entire social media management tool. You can track different mentions of your name on social media, but you can also manage each of your social profiles through the tool by sending updates, responses and more.
You can manage all your social media efforts in just one platform – from Twitter, Facebook, to Instagram. Interact with your target audience on social media. Track those that respond and continue interacting with them to build a relationship. You can use HootSuite for all of these.