Thursday, February 16, 2012

Branding Yourself Using Social Media

We all enjoy social media for gathering news, connecting with our friends and sharing content, but do we really know how to use it to its full advantage? Mike D. Merrill, the Director of Marketing at ReachLocal, was this month’s speaker at the PRSA Dallas luncheon on Feb. 9.

As a PR professional, we all know the basics of social media, but every once and a while a presentation can teach us something new. Mike expanded on social media in a way that grabbed my attention and made me think twice about making that call to action.

Mike’s presentation covered the value (and proven success) of using social media to personally brand yourself. Personal branding is the process in which people, and their careers or their lifestyles, are marketed as brands. With PR being such a competitive industry, everyone is looking for ways to market themselves, so why not do it for free using social networks?

After being laid-off at work, Mike wrote a simple post on LinkedIn advertising himself as a freelancer looking for work. The very next day he had several responses and quickly landed himself a job working for the University of Oklahoma. This unexpected amount of response launched him into building his career through blogging, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and almost any other social media outlet you can think of. Now, Mike travels all over the U.S. speaking about social media. Although Mike’s main focus is individual branding, his information can be applied to PR agencies and the work we do for brands. Below is Mike’s list of steps to start building your personal brand, whether it is in fact personal or professional.

1.    Benchmark the Current State: Search your name on Google and see what comes up. Set a Google alert for your name and check your Google analytics. This is your starting benchmark; watch the way your Google identity changes as you gain a larger web presence.
2.    Create Profiles and Engage: Join the conversation through blogs, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc. Make comments, answer questions, share useful articles and join groups.
3.    Share Content: Read other blogs and informational websites and use your social media outlets to share what you find interesting.
4.    Start Writing: Write wherever you can, whether it’s on blogs, commenting on reviews, posting in LinkedIn Groups or Yahoo answers. Start. Writing.
5.    Purchase Your Own Domain: The best way to brand yourself is to have your own URL.
6.    Network: Don’t wait until you get laid off to start networking. Attend networking events in your area and join professional organizations.
7.    Start Blogging: Demonstrate your expertise and commitment to your industry, profession and community. Develop your personal voice.
8.    Update Your Status Regularly: Update with unique ways that will induce interaction. Do something every day so your name shows up on home pages.

To learn more about how to make your own brand identity, check out Mike’s full presentation by clicking here and follow Mike on Twitter at @mikedmerrill.

This post was contributed by Kathrine Brody

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