How To: Avoid Invisibility With Your Personal Brand

How do you keep up with all of those different Web sites, and how do I build a web presence? It’s a question I often hear from friends, students and clients. I always respond to it the same way – Are you sure you want to be as transparent and public as I am? If the answer is yes, here’s my brief how-to on the best ways to stop being invisible online, through careful building of your personal brand and web presence.

Perhaps the most obvious would be to start snagging up your name on the popular social networking sites. If your exact name is available, get it. But if it’s not, I’ve found it helpful to stick to a similar user name or URL shortcode for EVERY service you use. Consistency is something search engines love. The more properties that you can duplicate your username or URL shortcode on, the easier you are to find. And if your last name isn’t quite as unique as “Eizans,” do the best you can to do a first last combo or a username that at least applies to you in some way. You’ll find that most of my property on the web is full first, full last (danieleizans).

Five sites you absolutely shouldn’t ignore include Facebook, Flickr, LinkedIn, Twitter and last, but certainly not the least important is building your own website on your own domain. Here’s a quick rundown on why these five things are important to being more visible on the web.

Personal Domain/Website: If your name is available as a dot com, grab it now! With your own web site, you can point it towards all of these other great properties and build your blog into it. If your name isn’t available, do your best to figure out something memorable that applies to you. Don’t get cute, unless you have a company that is tied to your name.

Once you begin adding content to the site, you’ll begin to rise in the search engine rankings, so long as your content is optimized correctly, have strong title tags, header information and include links in the body copy.

Building clean and optimized content is a whole other post I’ll probably get to later.

LinkedIn: If used correctly, your LinkedIn profile says everything about your professional reputation. It essentially serves as your amendable online resume, complete with instant access to your professional references. It’s also plugged in to job hunting tools and is highly functional and SEO friendly.

Since spending a good deal of time updating my resume, background and ACTIVELY asking for recommendations, I’ve gotten at least 1 to 2 job leads a week from my LinkedIn profile. Don’t settle for just listing the job title, fill out the descriptions. Sell yourself.

Flickr: If you have any skill with a camera, Flickr can be a great way to house your photos, tag them, optimize them and be sure they are providing traffic back to your web site. I use Flickr exclusively for all of my images on Diary of a Would-Be Chef and for a great deal of content that I’ve personally shot for this web site. It features an analytics suite that’s reasonably good at identifying where your traffic is coming from and if you choose to make your photos sharable and usable by other bloggers, you could get even more traffic back to your site depending on the publishing rights package you go with.

Several of my food photos are being used as stock art for other blogs, in blog headers and in recipe reprints. In exchange for that use, I require the blogger publishes my name and links directly back to my personal web site, and believe me, I get traffic from it. Flickr also allows you to add links to comments and HTML. Also, take advantage of tags and create one for your site that you’re using the photos on.

Facebook: This social networking giant is a bit of a no-brainer. But, in order to display your profile in the Google results, you will need to change your privacy settings. Sharing your other sites and just having your name attached to Facebook helps you to be more visible.

Twitter: Claim your username on Twitter (before someone else does) and make your bio about you, not just what you’re interested in. Admittedly, Twitter isn’t for everyone. It takes work to stay on top of who you follow and the topics you’re interested in. But having your username locked down isn’t a bad thing. And if you’re as busy as I am at times, you may find it much easier to provide quick updates through micro-blogging as opposed to taking the time to research and post a longer piece. At any rate, Twitter is growing like gangbusters right now and you should become acclimated with it sooner than later. Being on Twitter will only help your name get out there.

So that’s it. Those are the bare bones you need to get started. As you get those properties going, you can add others, like FriendFeed, Tumblr, etc., etc. Crawling out of the cave of invisibility isn’t terribly difficult, but it does take time and a real effort. Also, don’t forget that once you’re out, it’s impossible to crawl back in. So before you go crazy, make sure you don’t mind being found with a single keyword or two. You may regret it in the long run.

Photo Jonathan Phillip

‘Transformation’ Was A Necessity For Detroit Papers

A little over a week ago the Detroit Free Press and The Detroit News made major changes to their product offerings and moved to a limited home delivery.

And while the The Detroit Media Partnership changes are not even a month old, I’m of the opinion that the bold and forward thinking moves that leadership has made are among the most important (if not the most) experiments with journalism going today.

What the Detroit papers have done is revolutionary. It’s a real roll of the dice when it comes to their business models. Where every other newspaper going defunct is moving to an entirely digital approach, slashing its staff and reducing coverage areas, David Hunke and the Media Partnership are staying the course, committed to keeping two newspapers in Detroit, keeping their staffs as robust as possible and continuing the tradition of thorough, deep reporting – and they’re doing it and still PRINTING, 7 days a week.

So why is that such a great thing? The former journalist in me thinks this is the best option, because it provides two different sides to every story, allows Detroit to be one of the few cities in America to provide printed newspapers 7-days a week and keeps the integrity of news intact.

I’m ecstatic there’s still a print edition and two full editorial staffs, because while I’m definitely more of a digital guy, most blogs don’t have the same standards for reporting the news, or industries that journalists do.

Sure, I’ll read Jalopnik for car reviews, some rumor about the auto industry, etc., but those guys just don’t have the connections of the Freep or the News. I want the analysis, journalistic integrity and the experience that those papers bring to the table. Trained journalists are irreplaceable in my humble opinion, and it’s nice to know I can still pick up my copy at a newsstand and hop a plane with it. For me, I still pick up a newstand copy of the paper and use the mobile versions and web sites to consume my news, but there are options for just about EVERY delivery method.

The five major keys to that made this move a good one:

1. Both the Freep and The News are still printing 7 days a week

2. Home delivery still occurs every Thursday, Saturday and Sunday

3. Subscribers have access to an E-Edition, an exact replica of the daily printed edition that features interactive ads and various visual formats

4. Both papers were able to continue their normal publishing cycle and plan with minimal impact to newsroom staff. (Journalists keep their jobs, Detroit continues to be a two newspaper town and journalistic integrity remains intact)

5. Plans were announced to begin delivering the newspaper to the Kindle and a new E-reader device being developed by Plastic Logic., and both newspapers mobile sites remain free of charge.

What remains to be seen is how the papers will react to suggestions of its readers, or if the digital editions will be as consumed as the print editions, but based on some of the commentary I’ve seen, the defectors are more few and far between. I’ll be curious to see if any other major cities follow Detroit’s lead, because I believe the moves are really smart, albeit a bit risky. I’m just glad to know the papers I love didn’t lay down and die a slow and painful death.

Photo: Sanja Gjenero

In the interest of intellectual honesty and integrity, I’ll go ahead and disclaimer here that the Detroit Media Partnership is one of the clients that my employer represents and that I do work on the account. My opinion and any opinion you see on this blog are certainly not to be considered to be the same of the clients I work with.

I’m not dead yet.

I’ve been absent here for quite a while. I have lots of reasons for that.

The number one reason being that I took a new position as Senior Communication Manager and Counselor at a Communication Management and Counseling firm in Detroit called Bassett & Bassett Inc. The transition has been a VERY busy one. At present, I’m getting up to speed on all of my new clients, which I’ll most likely share here from time to time.

That being said, I’m not really a “marketer” anymore, so I’ll be changing the masthead of the site and doing some work under the hood of the site this weekend.

Goes to show you, once you get happy with something, that’s when you need to tear it all back up. Unfortunately that’s where I’m at here. I’ll keep the design consistent, but the mast, title and some of the tagging will change. I’ll keep you all posted. Thanks for bearing with me.