Posted: 22 Nov 2010 06:23 AM PST
Social media is powering the world in ways many have never imagined. We can see new connections being formed out of seemingly thin air. With more profile integration than ever before, it’s important to understand how to manage your digital personality.
Branding isn’t just for corporations. It can also apply to an individual item or person. It feels great to build a collection of yourself online. Using tools like Twitter, Facebook, and Google it’s easy to develop an interpretation of yourself. This will come in handy when you’re out meeting new people and showcasing your talent to the world.
I’ll be going over some guidelines related to building the core of your social media presence. There are so many applications out there to choose from and it’s a very exciting process to watch your profile pages mature over time.
What are the Benefits of Social Media
The first notable fact is the large market share. Social networking websites contain the largest amount of connections and command the most attention from their userbase. Adding a node for yourself in this sea of database entries is a fantastic way to not only meet interesting new people, but have yourself openly viewed by many others.
You may also notice a large segment of users are hooked into the mobile market. The amount of people accessing Facebook and Twitter from mobile phones has risen drastically over the past 2 years. It’s no surprise this group is young, energetic, and mostly passionate users of these services.
In truth the benefits for using social media will change between each person. Our own reasons don’t matter so much. The real-life connections we can build by networking with others hold so much potential. The world is a lot smaller than it was 100 years ago and we’re seeing a tightening of this system with each passing month.
Working on Facebook
Having been coined “the social network” Facebook has seen an amazing year of progress. They recently surpassed 500 million users and continue to grow in ranks. Facebook is a great place to brand yourself if you’d like to keep in touch with close, immediate contacts.
Those who aren’t looking to join a global network should look elsewhere. In truth most young and middle-aged citizens living in industrialized portions of the world not only have a Facebook account, but also regularly check and update their friends on happenings.
If you can find value in keeping connected with friends from high school, college, or the work place then Facebook is a great network to start. It provides easy access to sharing photos and your personal interests. You can also share your e-mail and phone number with select contacts. Facebook also offers instant messaging chats in their UX – a nifty feature not found much elsewhere.
If all of this wasn’t enough consider the amazing possibilities granted through Facebook Connect. On websites which allow such integration you may register and create an account without filling out any forms. Merely click a link to re-direct to an approval page on Facebook. Accepting the connection will bind your two profiles together (and you don’t need to worry about 2 passwords).
I’ve found Twitter to be a huge network of prowess in socializing. Some very big names run Twitter accounts and actively tweet each day. Since Facebook is a one-to-one network most of the information and access to potential contacts is closed.
Twitter flips this ideology on its head by offering all information openly by default. Those who choose to set their profiles to private will hide tweets from only those who haven’t been cleared as a follower. There isn’t much benefit to this – why even create an account if you’re going to hide your updates?
Keeping with a brand here is much simpler than any other network I’ve found. All that’s required is a name/bio and a defining avatar. When you start following 100-200+ accounts you’ll notice the real benefits going around the Twitterverse. Conversations and news can happen in real-time and be shared like never before.
Twitter is also the first large social network to allow for mini-celebrity status growth. Just by creating a Twitter account and allowing users to follow you creates potential for your name to grow out of control. You are able to @reply to some of your favorite people which can start a chain of conversations leading to anything. It’s an open connection to the largest community in the world!
Digging Social News
Websites like Digg and Reddit offer news like we’ve never seen before. The potential for stories to go popular is in the highest intensity we’ve ever seen. Couple this with a mass audience of Internet-addicted young adults and you’ve got a truly free entity of the media.
Since Digg’s release of v4 the community has suffered a great deal of losses. Functionality which was once available has been removed, and many die hard users have switched to Reddit. I’d recommend creating an account on both since they offer two completely unique opportunities.
Rivals of the Internet
Digg’s model is based around marketing and sharing articles. Their newest system for networking reflects a Twitter-based followers/following rule set. By adding larger power diggers into your network and voting on their stories you can build trust and a powerful brand among the community.
With this new power you may be able to submit articles of your own. By amassing just under 100 diggs most articles with enough traction will hit popular and see a small increase in unique visitors. The marketing potential isn’t nearly as credible as classic Digg, but there’s still some prosperity in running an account.
Reddit on the other hand is a community built around all topics of news. Under a system called “sub-reddits” users can subscribe to unique categories including finance, cooking, and fitness. If a sub-reddit isn’t available any user has the ability to create such a topic and become moderator of all submitted articles.
This is a truly democratic system where only the most popular news will rise to the top. Branding potential isn’t as strong here since profile pages are semi-lackluster. But how much information and useful content flows through the site every day more than makes up for any slack. Try out the site for a few days to see how you like the experience and how it compares to Digg.
Only recently seeing serious growth StumbleUpon offers a database of millions of tagged, unique URLs. These can include blog articles, images, videos, and anything in-between. With a Stumble account you first pick topics which interest you and the algorithm will show you pages which are targeted towards your interests.
The community is powered by a few heavy users and also a minor sub-power user base to submit new articles. As you stumble and review more posts new community members will find and subscribe to your profile without fail.
As you gain more subscribers you can share articles among all or a select few of them. Those with the largest amount of subscribers are seeing amazing increases in traffic and command loads of marketing power. This is where branding will fall into the playing field.
By completing common profile traits such as name, bio, and possibly contact details it gives a sense of connectivity to visitors who may subscribe. A custom avatar is always a good idea as well. If you match your avatars among other profiles such as Digg or Twitter you’ll tie in a closed branding scheme throughout all your digital profiles.
Writing and Blogging
Not all of us are writers and even fewer enjoy the art of writing. Bloggers choose to write because they find the process of transferring words from idea to physical manifest exhilarating. Today we have more open systems for blogging than ever before.
WordPress and Blogger offer open platforms which you can sign up and blog for free. They host all of your content and offer a selection of free themes to choose from. This is a great option when you don’t wish to buy your own domain just to catalog your writing.
Though there isn’t much graphical branding in blogging it is an internally personal decision to share your writing openly with the world. It’s certainly not for everybody as it comes at a timely cost. Writing will take up a few hours every day/week and over time may become a drag.
Try building a practice blog before going full-time blogger. An interesting alternative lies in Tumblr which is a new dynamic form of blogging. Their system allows you to re-blog posts from the people you follow with the click of a button. Bloggers frequently share photos and animations instead of writing long drawn-out articles which gives the Tumblr community its charm.
Keep All Information Interesting
Consistent, reputable information will give your brands credibility on all current and future profiles. When you have fans throughout 5 or 6 different social networks it’s important for your image to hold true among any due diligence.
Ask yourself what people want to know about you. What type of information do you wish to find on others’ profiles? Along with all of this, in what way can you best express yourself to somebody with whom you’ve never met?
Branding and marketing is a long road. It takes some curves over time and requires daily attendance. Setting up accounts throughout the wide array of social networks is only one step. The real change comes from actively participating in these networks. If you find value in Twitter then just keep tweeting. If you enjoy chatting with your friends via Facebook then be sure to connect as often as you feel right.
Memorability is the name of the game. If you have complex usernames, generic profile photos, and no data about yourself what makes your profile stand out from the masses? Dare to be different and liven up your online identities. Keep tight connections with those you wish to and hold in mind that technology is only a tool. Social networks offer only a means to an end, not an end in and of itself.
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