[This is an extended version of a piece I wrote on LinkedIn]
I harnessed the power social media and personal branding long before it was a term. I organically grew up as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and so many other networks were very young. It is natural for me to reach out, connect, and talk to my peers and to people I feel can offer me more insight in my career.
I’ve had many years to look back and hone the skills that came to me naturally. These days, my job is to teach those lessons to help an entire membership-based organization grow to be better connected and successful.
I also have opportunities like this week when I get to speak to Stony Brook University’s Women’s Leadership Symposium about the power of a personal brand. I plan to share a peek into how I’ve taken my career into new directions thanks to social media branding. I hope my insight to professors, students and other professionals will help each woman walk away looking forward to owning her personal brand.
First, I think it’s important to note that you can own your personal brand without sharing your personal address. You can do a few things that make it easy for people to contact you without releasing your official phone number or address.
Use Google Voice so you can share a phone number without feeling that you’re giving away too much information. It’s a great tool. If you purchase your own URL spend a little extra to keep your account information private. If you hope to use a lot of snail mail in combination with your online life, it can’t hurt to consider purchasing a post office box or a mailbox at a shipping store.
Second, think about how you want to be portrayed online. What type of skills and experiences do you want to be known for? Then, it’s time to get to business.
Search your name on all browsers
When I say “all” browsers, I really mean focus in on Google, Yahoo, and Bing. Make sure you aren’t signed into those services. That will give you a better picture of what other people see when they look up your name. Searching for your name online helps you get a look at your personal brand. It shows the digital footprint that already exists with your name. Often this footprint can exist without you even trying. Just participating in public events or having articles written about you can build up a digital footprint. Why not own it yourself? You can, but it means you need to create additional content on the Internet.
Do you have a name everyone seems to have?
That’s okay. Search your name and where you go to school or the name of your current workplace. You can also search your name and a generic term for the industry you work.
Do you like what you see?
Awesome. Then keep up the good work you’re already doing. But if you want to see more of you in search, there are ways to build out your online presence with the help of social media and blogging tools.
Create a personal website and social media accounts
If you want to build your name online, you need to own your name. I decided a long time ago I wanted to be known with a combination of my maiden and married names (I legally changed my maiden name into my middle name). I became “Jen Lee Reeves” each time I joined a social network. I also made sure I used the same profile picture with every account. That makes it easier for a person searching for you to know your accounts are connected.
For example, I’m writing this post on this blog, but a similar post is on LinkedIn. If you establish yourself on a blog tool like Blogger, WordPress or Tumblr, you have a free tool to own your work and your presence. Only telling your thoughts and ideas on social media means those products own your work. I strongly believe in offering your insight on your own website and distributing your thoughts across social media platforms. I’ve included a graphic that explains what I mean.
Another example was a time I held a really great conversation on Facebook with a special needs community I lead. I took that conversation and broke it down on my blog, Born Just Right, so I could give more context and continue to own the conversation instead of Facebook.
Everything either starts or ends on your personal site.
Join social media sites and link to your personal website
Search engines pay more attention to your personal website when more sites link back to it. If you have never joined any social media accounts before and you want to focus on your professional status, I would join in this order:
All social networks have the potential to be a tool to help you gain more insight for your career. LinkedIn is the most obvious. It’s focused on making connections with people with whom you have a professional relationship. I have a personal rule where I do not connect with someone on LinkedIn without having some kind of professional contact. I also do not connect unless I know I’m able to give a reference about that person if a potential employer asks me questions. The only time I violate that rule is if someone connects to me who can offer me an opportunity to help others find employment or I have an extra employment opportunity.
Twitter is the most public space to make connections. For me, it’s been the most important space to reach out beyond my existing circles of influence. It’s also a great space to just read what others have to say. According to Twitter, 60 percent of users ONLY read content and do not post or interact with other users. You can be that person, but you won’t be using it to its fullest potential.
Facebook has the ability to connect with just your friends and family but you can also offer public posts that anyone can read. You can also make your personal profile public. I consider this an additional space to share my personal resume. I only share professional information publicly. The majority of the music festivals and kid events are shared to friends only. The professional stuff is shared for all.
I feel the same way with Google+. Your profile is a great public space to help more people see you. Also, sharing your personal website links on Google+ is bound to get it into Google’s search engines a little faster than any other social network.
Pinterest is a huge link driver. If you use good visuals with your post, it can catch someone’s eye and lead them to your personal website. You might be surprised to see the kind of traffic Pinterest can bring.
Instagram is also a professional opportunity. You can share a personal link and share a mix of personal and professional. I can’t tell you how many conferences I’ve attended this year and the first thing someone says is they love my Instagram feed. Images are more memorable and taking the time to share those moments can go a long way.
Don’t jump into every social media space at once
Building your personal brand is not a sprint. It’s a marathon. Take your time and think seriously about which social networks can help you reach your goals.
My goal? These days it’s to help spread the word on how to be a good steward in the web word. That means being true to yourself when you “talk” online. Be a good person and treat every post you share as if you were putting a bumper sticker on a car or a sign in the lawn in front of where you live.
To make sure everything goes well, an important item you should also think of as you join each account is your security. A professional person inside social media does everything he or she can do to avoid getting accounts hacked. Use two-step login security features. Connect your cell phone and take the extra step to confirm that you are really logging into a service. It’s worth the protection.
Make sure you keep track of your social social media presence
There are some tools that help you keep up with all of the tools you use to manage your personal brand… Especially if you plan to not only use social media to listen but to also share content and interact with others. For tracking Twitter conversations and post, I love Tweetdeck. It’s eye candy to track topics and conversations. But if you want to follow multiple social accounts at the same time, it may be worth spending $10 a month using Hootsuite. Another way to save time is using Buffer, which will share social posts during what the company considers optimal times to publish posts to your followers. But if you use scheduling tools, be aware that you’ll see social media users interacting with you and if you sent a post encouraging engagement, you should be ready to participate.
Social media posts can be treated like email. You should reply but you don’t have to reply immediately. But if you are sharing posts during live events or ask questions, you should be ready to reply relatively quickly.
Make sure you share all of your social spaces
I always share my social media spaces on my websites and on all of my social sites (you can share all of your links on Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+) but I also absolutely love about.me. The site offers a free spot to claim your name and share every single social site where you can be found. Check out the simple one page website I’ve used for a long time.
Personal branding is obviously my passion. It’s made my entire career possible since 2005. You have the chance to use any and all of these tips to create a digital footprint that you can proudly show off to anyone searching your name. Good luck and have fun!
I’m kicking off the new year with something a little different. For the first time, I’m attending the New Media Expo (known best as Blogworld). The conference is focused on people who create content online and giving them a chance to learn how to get better at it and meet all kinds of brands that may have helpful tools.
There was a time when brands focused on getting the likes, the follows… build the numbers. Get eyes on your social messages. But it numbers don’t mean much if those followers don’t actually have a relationship with the brand. One of my favorite comments during one panel came from BlogFrog’s Jennifer Beaupre: You need to improve the experience for current and future users and influence will happen.
Influence. It’s a major theme discussed throughout NMX. There are two sides of influence that seem to most dominant: Helping brands harness the power of influencers and helping individuals build influence so brands will want to work with them. Influence is complicated to gauge. Products like Klout and Kred claim to be able to score each person based on their influence on social media. Other products, like BlogFrog, try to harness influencer strength based on niches.
Brands focusing on influence is not new. But as IAB’sSusan Borst said during one panel, brands have always tried to harness the power of influence. But the difference now is the digital world comes with data. Digital has actual data behind it: followers, likes, tweets, posts… It goes on and on. The challenge for brands is identifying what data is really relevant, what is right. There are so many different tools out there that gather data. The trick for brands is working on learning how to use the right tools or process to reach the influencers that matter to your brand. There is no one overarching answer for every brand.
Social media has never been a one size fits all process. True relationships with brand advocates and brand influencers take time, effort and money. It’s fascinating to watch it constantly evolve.
I love new technology. I can’t stop myself from signing up and giving a new application or website a try. It’s a part of my curiosity as we continue to look for new ways to help journalism grow into its future. I’m often really excited about the new because I often see the great potential a new tool can offer.
Google+ had me super excited when I watched its engagement at its launch last year. Since then, my newsroom has harnessed its vast power through video hangouts. We’re talking to people in our market and beyond about topics of the day live each day Monday through Friday. I love it. This week I signed up to check out On The Air – a tool that claims to be a bigger, more reaching concept for broadcasting webcam chats. I look forward to seeing how it works when it launches. Another site I’m checking out: Twylah. It takes your trending topics on Twitter and makes it into a personal brand page. I signed up for my page and plan to add my newsroom’s soon.
Today I’m talking to members of the New York Press Association. First, about my ongoing collection of free (and almost free) online tools for journalism. I try to update the list at least two or three times a year. (And I’m always happy to add more links if you see something you think should be included.) Second, I’m talking about why I think it’s worth your time to jump into new technology and explore. My tech curiosity made me the tech geek I am today. I love this stuff! I hope to encourage more journalist to learn to play and have fun when it comes to growing our skills as journalists!
This year was my fourth time attending the South by Southwest Interactive Festival in Austin, TX. Four times isn’t that long but it is long enough to assess some of the changes that have come with the experience.
For years I have bragged about the festival’s awesomeness. To me it’s like the Online News Association conference but with people who have similar interest across dozens and dozens and possibly hundreds of different career directions. The core interest in technology and innovation is similar across the board. I love that so much. Tools like Group Me made it easier to stay in touch with friends inside your already existing tribes: career path, friend history… heck I had a Group Me of people I only see during SXSW. Tools like these make it easier to stick within your comfort zone.
One tool that emerged during the festival that tries to make it easier to discovery serendipitous meetings through technology was Highlight. It shows you people you randomly passed by during the day and gives you a look at their background. I happened to be in rooms with fascinating people. It ranged from scientists and space engineers to reporters and authors. Highlight will tell you if you have similar interests based on your Facebook profile and connections. It was cool to discover people I’ve never met who are friends with my Facebook friends. I talked to a couple of people through the tool to say hi and introduce myself. (A passive introduction is by “highlighting” someone you might want to meet.) The challenge of actually talking face to face with people you’ve highlighted is the fact that by the time you have a moment to look at the app and see who are the interesting people in the area, they’ve already left and you have to go above and beyond effort to find a chance to meet this person face to face again. (Oh, and I continued my #PowerFriends power strip friend-maker. I love meeting people by sharing hashtag-based electricity.)
That’s why I kind of miss pre-app SXSW. (Yeah, Twitter existed… but Foursquare was just getting started three years ago! My how times have changed.) My best moments were and remain the random eye contact conversations in the hallway, while you charge your phone or wait to order a beverage at the bar. My favorite meetings have always happened this way and it happened again this year. I met brilliant librarians, filmmakers and leaders of popular social media tools that I love to use.
This tribal SXSW is probably going to continue. But I will focus on breaking through it and I highly recommend working outside of your comfort zone when attending a massive conference like this one. I tried very hard to balance the combination of sessions, serendipitous meetings and reunions. The more years I put under my belt and the larger this event gets, the harder it will be to keep my focus on new experiences. But for now, SXSW remains worth it to me.
It would be magical if I could just share my brain and it would auto publish… There are so many ideas I hold in my brain that I wish I could get out into a computer screen for dozens of blog posts. Lately I’ve thought a lot about a panel I’m helping lead at SXSW next month in Austin. Most of my friends assumed I was holding a panel about journalism. It’s certainly one of the parts of my life where I spend a lot of time talking about and teaching.
And that’s exactly what I’m doing next month. I’m holding a session called Tech Unity Beyond the #SpecialNeeds Hashtag. Communities connecting on Twitter using the special needs hashtag is awesome… But there are other ways we can share. So many different sectors of the special needs world have their own circles. The challenge is, so many of these communities are discovering similar ways to help kids and adults succeed. The trick is getting the communication out there. It’s much easier said than done! So I’m calling EVERYONE who has a connection to the tech world or special needs world to come together and help us brainstorm. Spread the word, let me know if you can help. I would love to be able to share video perspectives or comments during the session. Here’s my YouTube video explaining the project:
I just had a chance to speak to a group attending the Excellence in Journalism conference in New Orleans and Society for News Design in St. Louis… This has given me a chance to speak to journalists who I don’t get to speak to as often. Focusing on helping mid-career journalists think about work and life experiences is something I’ve wanted to do for a while.
That’s why I loved have a chance to talk about how to take your mid-career life into a more multimedia experience. I talked about how you have to change your mindset, play and connect to promote your work. I realize that sounds easier than you think… but guess what? It really is that easy. If you play, you learn. That’s exactly how I got to where I am in my career.
Beyond what I had to say, I want to share a list of links of tools that I think are really helpful: delicious.com – save all of those links you don’t want to lose and tag them with searchable terms bit.ly – make a shorter link for something you want to share and get instant analytics that show who clicked on it Mobile Reporting Tools: RJI 2010-11 fellow Will Sullivan and a team of students analyzed all kinds of mobile tools and listed them based on the type of phone. I HIGHLY recommend you play with all of the available tools you can with the phone you own.
Also, check out A New Guide: A team of my students recently interviewed journalists across the country to come up with some best practices for journalists using social media.
I’m attending the Brands and Bloggers Summit in Chicago today. I’m learning a different side of blogging. I’ve been in this space for years, but I’ve never really learned what the blogging and brand experience is really about.
As a journalist and professor, I realize this is a place that may seem a little unusual. But let’s be honest. This is an economy where we need to be curious and look for ways to be able to pay for my kids dozens of activities and maybe save something once they get into college. Along with my nerd world, I advocate for kids and help parents advocate for their children on Born Just Right. I’m curious and interested in seeing how the brands and bloggers relationship works.
What do you think? Can journalists have side jobs where they have open and transparent relationships with brands?
I just wrapped up a fun 20 minute conversation with Joy Mayer and Jeremy Littau at the Social Media Clubhouse just a few blocks away from the SXSW conference. We wanted to share our top three ways social media can invigorate journalism education.
Jeremy talked about how he is introducing the concept of a “classroom without walls.” Joy talked about how journalists should think about reaching her or her audience depending on the story they are working on and where those communities are talking. I talked about how important it is to build an online brand so when you have published work in any form, the information consumers can find out that you’re for real.
Case in point: Joy talked about a student who completed a fantastic project about interactive museums. It was so good Joy wanted to blog about it. So when she asked the student where she should link when the student’s name showed up on her blog, the student didn’t have any social link that showed her knowledge base. Her blog was unused, her Twitter stream was dry… so it was tough to connect her amazing work to something that shows she’s legit.
I’m attending my third South by Southwest Interactive Festival in Austin, Texas for the next week. I’m lucky to have a job that helps pitch in on an expensive but incredibly engaging experience with tens of thousands of people who tend to think and interact in social media like I do.
So many people think like me that I had a realization today about this conference: SXSW is like a live Twitter experience.
Before you laugh, let me explain.
In Twitter, you can follow conversations and join in at any time. It’s a fun way to meet new people and share thoughts. It isn’t rude to interrupt. It’s common to just talk. That type of experience happens all the time at SXSW.
After I talked about the SXSW experience with a first-time-to-SXSW friend who traveled to Austin with me today, I had this big aha moment. We spent two hours in the car driving to the airport discussing the conference experience. By that point, I was in “SXSW mode” and caught myself randomly talking socially to someone in the bathroom as if I was already in Austin. There is this flow of conversation here that you can’t have anywhere else. It’s the ebb and flow of ideas that can course through every nerdy location across this downtown area.
I brought this up to a few people after I had picked up my badge and became and official conference attendee. They seemed to agree with my vision.
SXSW is a live Twitter feed. And if people I randomly talk to at this conference don’t like it… Well, they’re missing out on the core fun of this event! #SAST
I’ve had a chance to wrap up 2010 with a great group of students followed by an awesome winter break with the family. We celebrated the holidays with both sides of our family (we held a mini-Christmas with my husband’s side of the family followed by the full thing with my side). We also got to take the kids to Disney World for four days. It was awesome… and when cell phone connections were working properly, I had a chance to pick up a few Gowalla stamps of the parks and some of the rides. (I was bummed I couldn’t connect inside the Magic Kingdom where they had a holiday-only Cinderella’s Castle stamp.) I did snag a stamp for all four parks… and one of my favorite rides, Toy Story Mania.
I also tried to play with the many items you can collect and trade in the game. All in all, most spots had dozens of Mickey hats. Once you collected a hat, it was tough to find many others. In the end, I collected a Mickey hat, a hitchhiking ghost, a tour bus and a partner statue. I had hoped to find some extra surprises with the park’s Gowalla experience, but maybe because I had a hard time with my AT&T service, I didn’t find it.
Now that I got to enjoy my fun and games, it’s time to get back to work. I’m co-teaching a class on campus that is known as the journalism for non-journalism majors class. My partner in crime, Jake Sherlock, and I plan to bring as many perspectives and views of the industry as possible. I have a great group of students signed up for my capstone class and I’m fleshing out some great projects for the students. My newsroom is also working on launching a new content management system. This is a really exciting change for us!
I’m also planning on attending at least three conferences this year: SXSWi, BlogHer bet and BlogHer ’11. I’m trying to take some of my journalism focus and look at the many new ways I can expand it. I have so many students who are learning their core skills can be used in many non-traditional ways. I hope I can arm myself with more knowledge to help guide them beyond the newsroom experience. So while I’m working on teaching and helping run the KOMU news, I’m hoping to continue to expand my views. It’s challenging to see everything out there if I’m just in the newsroom working with in a more traditional setting. Luckily I work in an environment that allows me to try to innovate.
So, grab your thinking hat and join me while I try to figure out how we can take all this vast knowledge of the changing world and spread the word. My first step towards that goal is helping launch a Social Media Club in our town. I’m looking forward to helping share knowledge in my community and helping grow a more converged alliance of people in my area who understand the growing power of how communication and sharing is changing!