Importance of Personal Branding and How to Build Your Personal Brand

It was in 1996  that Steve Jobs was reinstated as the CEO of Apple which was on the brink of bankruptcy. The rest as they say is history. The man not only saved the company from bankruptcy but ensured that it is counted amongst the top 10 best companies around the world. What’s even fascinating to note in the saga of Steve Jobs is that brand Steve Jobs was stronger than brand Apple.

In fact, after his sad demise recently, many were seen talking in hushed tones about the fate of Apple now. Would the company be able to sustain itself or would it again crash in the absence of its captain. That’s the power of personal branding. Whether you are the CEO of a company or an employee in a large organization, if you have a powerful personal brand, it adds immense value to the business you are in.

In the globalized world of today, where almost everything is on the internet, personal branding is both an easy as well as difficult task. It easy because you have plenty of avenues to project yourself as an expert in your field; it is difficult because you can easily be found out there and even slightest of mistakes can ruin the brand called You. Talking of avenues online, here are some important mediums which can make or break your personal brand in this fiercely competitive world.

Importance of Facebook Branding

FaceBook is the new internet, quite literally. With 800 million users and growing, almost everybody with an internet connection is one FaceBook today. Recently, FaceBook has also launched the subscribe feature which lets users subscribe to interesting pages and people without being friends. That means if you are the CEO of a company or at the helm of things, people will definitely check out your page on FaceBook.

It is the leader of an organization which determines the value of brand in the eyes of the customers. Thus, you need to make sure that your FaceBook page projects a positive personal image.

Even if you are not the leader of an organization, your FaceBook page matters a lot. Recent study has suggested that social media is influencing the way HR personnel are hiring the world over. Here are some complete no-no’s when it comes to FaceBook as a medium for your personal branding:

  • Keep the pics from that wild night out last night out personal. Make sure only your closest friends get to see such pics. You can always tweak the settings in your FaceBook account.
  • Make meaningful updates. In order to come across as a serious individual, don’t just update your status for the heck of it. Keep it interesting and if possible, related to your skills and expertise. For example, if you are a copywriter, you can always post new slogans that you coin every now and then. If you are a techie, posting links to interesting bits of news in the world of technology is a good idea.
  • Let the world know about important happenings. It is important to use FaceBook about important happenings in your professional life. It could be success in a project or simply thinking about new ideas to grow your business.

Importance of personal website

While FaceBook is about connecting with the world out there, a personal website is about blowing your own trumpet. A personal website not only ensures that people have a chance to know the real you, it also means better visibility on search engines. Unless you are a Steve Jobs whose life has been an open book, you do need good visibility to create a buzz around your personal brand. A personal website can help you do that.

Importance of Twitter

If you thought people only follow celebs on Twitter, you are wrong. Ever since twitter came on the horizon, the task of discovering new things has become that much easier for people. Twitter users follow all kinds of interesting people- bloggers, experts in various fields and even the sarcastically humorous ones out there. Twitter is the perfect example of what viral marketing is. If you have interesting enough content to share, you can quickly become popular on Twitter Sphere. And if you commit an embarrassing mistake, you can still become popular on Twitter, albeit the wrong way. Need I say more about the importance of Twitter for personal branding?

Twitter also holds fantastic importance for top business honchos out there. People love to know about brands they are part of. Twitter gives CEOs the opportunity to engage their consumers directly and ensure good branding for their organization. A perfect example of the above is the CEO of Mahindra and Mahindra Anand Mahindra. He makes it a point to answer his followers’ questions and keep them updated about the latest happenings. It definitely has had a positive impact on the branding of Mahindra and Mahindra.

Importance of  LinkedIn

LinkedIn is social media for the professional world. Whether you are a freelancer, an executive or a top honcho, trust your business associates, partners and colleagues to glance at your LinkedIn profile at some point or the other. To use LinkedIn as an effective tool for personal branding, make sure you have spent enough time to make a professional looking profile on the site.

Highlight your strengths and make sure your LinkedIn profile is search engine optimized too. And avoid a very common mistake people commit with their LinkedIn profiles- linking it with their Twitter account and tweeting all kinds of stuff.

If you have linked your LinkedIn profile with twitter, make sure you tweet only important stuff which projects a positive image for yourself. If you use Twitter for personal interactions, linking your Twitter account with your LinkedIn profile is never a good idea. It can corrode your personal brand quicker than you think.

Importance of YouTube

Videos are one of the best mediums for viral marketing. The recent online rage Kolavei Di vindicates that point. If you really want your personal brand to go viral, there is no better platform than You Tube. People love to follow YouTube channels that are informative or those with interesting content. As an individual, you can tap the potential of You Tube to give your personal brand the extra mileage.

Importance of Personalized e-mails

Almost everyone either has a Yahoo account or a Gmail account these days. Branding, whether personal or otherwise, is about standing out from the rest out there. If you want to come across as a dedicated individual who has the required professionalism, a personalized e-mail address can leave that impact. Getting a personalized e-mail address is easy with Google Apps and it is available for free. A personalized e-mail address ensures you have a unique e-mail address and thus, a high recall value.

Pankaj Pandey’s expertise as an online marketing consultant and his prowess in custom website development has helped him reach the pinnacle of success, helping various web based businesses achieve success along the way.

Pre censorship of Social Media-Debate and facts

New Delhi, Dec 6: Telecom minister Kapil sibal asked The social websites like Google and Facebook, to ensure that uploading of derogatory material is stopped. This was the outcome as a controversy raged over monitoring offensive content on internet platforms.

Maintaining that the government does not want to interfere with the press, he said if the social networking sites are not willing to cooperate with the government on stopping incendiary material “then it is the duty of the government to think of steps that we need.” “This government does not believe in sensation and does not believe either directly or indirectly interefering in the freedom of the press. We have demonstrated that time and again,” he said.

Sibal cited an example of a religious place that turned out to be a pornographic site, and told them such content played with religious sentiments, the sources said.

A number of retweets and comments on Twitter came pouring in on the demand made by him saying “Kapil Sibal is an Idiot”.

Kafila.org has started a campaign asking people to write ‘Kapil Sibal’ is an idiot’ on their Facebook status message, to use the hashtag #IdiotKapilSibal on Twitter and write a blog post with titles censorship, Internet censorship in India, Kapil Sibal and It is so common to hear people going on and on and on about how somebody famous and/or powerful is a complete idiot for doing something. They don’t understand how someone can be so totally bone-headed.

Here are latest interesting Twitter Responses.
Full Twitter Feed on #idiotkapilsibal Live feed refresh automatically.  if not use refresh button  on right after twitter logo.

If you find yourself ever thinking like this (and I think this happens to all of us once in a while), stop and consider this question:

If that guy is such an idiot, and you can clearly see his faults, how come you are poor and unknown and that person is rich and famous?

Take, for example, the case of Kapil Sibal asking Google, Facebook, and co. to actively screen and filter all content before it is uploaded on their sites. Yes, on the face of it, it does seem rather an idiotic thing to say. However, my dear reader, I am willing to bet that Kapil Sibal is much smarter than you and me combined. He is a lawyer, he was the Solicitor-General of India, he had cleared the IAS exam (which is ridiculously difficult), and he has beaten Kyuki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thiin an election. So the best you and I can say is that we don’t really understand why Kapil Sibal is making such statements. There could be any number of reasons that you’ll never know. Maybe this is a move designed to win over rural voters. Maybe this is just a public stunt to soften up Google, Facebook for a backroom deal later on at terms very favorable to the Congress party. Maybe this is a way to make sure that Google, Facebook are very co-operative and pliable when police (or other government bodies) approach them with requests for private data.

Sources of  content

  • http://smritiweb.com/navin/introspection/if-everyone-else-is-such-an-idiot-how-come-youre-not-rich
  • http://www.newsreporter.in/derogatory-material-should-not-be-accepted-on-internet-platforms-kapil-sibal
  • http://www.indiandefence.com/forums/f118/indian-minister-kapil-sibal-wants-censor-user-content-india-13227/
  • http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2559/4088526925_be7b8ac3a4_z.jpg

 

 

Discard the Old Methods; Adopt the New and More Effective SEO Strategies

The year 2011 is almost here and it is the start of a new decade. But sadly, most people are still stuck with the decade old SEO techniques, which deliver results only for a short while. It is time people realized the evolving face of SEO and make the switch to SEO 2.0. I wish you all a very happy and prosperous new year, as I move into the top 10 rankings of Google, within a span of 1 month, thanks to a better SEO strategy. May this new year bring with it loads of joy, happiness and success for all of you.Adopt the New and More Effective SEO Strategies in 2011

As businesses grow more complex, ensuring a unique online visibility becomes tougher by the day; old SEO techniques no longer remain effective. When the blogging world was smaller and simpler, techniques like keyword linking and site rankings did benefit the average blogger looking for an easy route to online presence.

But in today’s cut-throat world of continuous learning and dynamic campaigning, you need a more effective and a more street-smart promotional strategy to take your website ahead in the race.

Millions of websites are created today, all seeking the same goal and target audience. If you continue to stick to the age-old SEO methods, you are likely to be lost in the crowd. You need to update yourself with the latest SEO techniques.

Here is a partial list of the old SEO techniques and how SEO 2.0, as the new SEO is popularly called, can help you with your visibility efforts.

1: Link Baiting

It is the old SEO technique whereby a person tries to drive customers to his site or blog by giving people improper or incomplete information. Many social media sites like DIGG, blacklist ‘link baiting’ as it unethically goads users to take action and is manipulative. However, latest SEO strategies look at ‘link baiting’ from a new perspective. The idea is to respect users, and create reasons for them to consciously link to your site. This can be done in three ways:

  1. Providing incentives, such as a review of their site, because of which people will link to your site.
  2. Giving people the information they need, by creating interesting content, because of which they will link to you site.
  3. Being innovative and controversial in one’s opinion, and making statements that go against popular opinion; this piques people’s curiosity, makes them disagree, and incites them to link to your site. More than being provocative, it’s about being fresh and honest.

2: Bad blog commenting etiquette

Old SEO techniques focus on incoherent commenting on blogs and etiquettes. They do not pay any heed to the rules and regulations of commenting on forums, or on blogs for that matter. Such disregard for other people and forcefully intruding in their discussions is not only going to get you negative PR but will also result in your comments getting blocked, which will not help your SEO efforts. Here are a couple of examples of bad blog commenting:

Amazing blog and very interesting stuff you got here! I definitely learned a lot from reading through some of your earlier posts as well and decided to drop a comment on this one! Anyways, I just signed up for your newsletter and will definitely come back for more. Feel free to do the same for my blog when you get a chance! Also, if you are looking to do some guest posting or promoting some of my products definitely check out my blog… All the best, Dino Vedo PS: Like my Facebook fan page and follow me on Twitter and I’ll do the same for you!

Hi there. Is it okay that I kinda off topic? I am trying to view the site on my new Mac but it doesn’t show correctly, do you have any solutions? Shall I try and find a fix for my computer or something? Thanks! Jo x

Commenting is used in SEO 2.0 as well, but in a manner which is beneficial. Rather than posting comments on blogs and forums randomly and then forgetting about them, one should actively take part in discussions and post the link to one’s website only after making two or three useful comments on a thread. That way, one comes across as more genuine, and that prompts the readers to follow the posted link.

3: Sticking to obsolete blogging

Blogger maybe the first blog platform to hit the internet, but it hardly works these days if SEO is your motive. WordPress is the most cutting edge technology for managing content and blog publishing. With in-built search engine optimization, link management system, automatic filters etc., it is definitely the most user-friendly and effective tool. Just to let you in on its popularity, WordPress 3.0 has been downloaded 12.5 million times as of August 2010! It is imperative that you have a WordPress blog for your business if you want your website on the first page of a search engine; old SEO techniques miss this point more often than not.

4: Targetting only a handful of keywords

Most websites and SEO firms target the popular, top 10-20 keywords, and their strategy aims to maintain high ranking for those keywords. Try something better. Turn the 80/20 rule on its head and target the long tail. Targeting hundreds of less frequently used keywords is a more viable business strategy. Take the case study of Amazon.com, which builds on keywords outside of the popular ones, and this strategy accounts for 57% of their sales.

5: Ignoring Social Media

Old SEO techniques ignore the social media completely, treating it as something solely for the teenagers. If you are serious about SEO, don’t ignore it. Social media, according to Wikipedia, are “the online tools and platforms that people use to share opinions, insights, experiences, and perspectives with each other.” In other words, social media websites are an online version of word of mouth. Social Media Optimization (SMO), can be seen as complimentary to SEO techniques, and a good SEO consultant should be well versed in both. It is done through:

  • Adding features to the website and blog content to make it more social media friendly. This involves having tools that make tagging, bookmarking, and linking easy.
  • Active promotion of the website and its content in social media through blogging, posting updates on social media sites and participating in discussion groups

6: An all Google strategy

An obsolete SEO strategy is one which gives Google all the importance while ignoring the rest. In the current, competitive e-marketing scenario, depending on one major source for traffic is a risky SEO strategy. The best marketing strategy is to have a diverse approach, where multiple points are created from where traffic can be directed to your website. This could include PPC, article marketing, social media marketing, as well as focusing on a variety of search engines.

7: Going the popular way

For your website to be popular, popular marketing techniques won’t help, innovative will. And that is exactly the point which the traditional SEO firms miss. Guerilla marketing techniques, which are high on time, energy and imagination often work out better than a popular, expensive campaign. For example, you can ask people who visit your website to write something personal, provide them with a horoscope reading, use T-shirts with attractive slogans to promote your blog etc. Such techniques will give you an advantage over your competitors, as they are less frequently used.

8: Ignoring web design

The traditional SEO people still think that web design has nothing to do with SEO. And they could not be more wrong. A website high on easy usability fetches much more traffic than an average one. Using style sheet languages such as CSS to design your website in a systematic way, with well organized portions for different content, help make your site popular. The idea is to have layouts, colors and fonts that are not only pleasing to the eye, but convenient to user as well.

9: Staying put with a single media

Traditional SEO still uses the writing method alone when executing the optimization of a website. While writing is no doubt the most effective, taking advantage of multiple media helps you beat your competition, and that’s what name of the game is. New SEO techniques are all about making one’s strategy wider, and all inclusive. Make use of videos, audio, pictures and anything and everything that may make the people interested in your product or service.

Pankaj Pandey’s expertise as an online marketing consultant and his prowess in custom website development has helped him reach the pinnacle of success, helping various web based businesses achieve success along the way.

Why web based businesses fail?

‘Internet Economy’ is a lucrative field today, with success stories such as Steve Wozniak and Apple computers and Sabeer Bhatia’s Hotmail. Naturally, everyone wants to get a share of these much ‘touted’ e-commerce profits. However, to succeed in the online world, businesses need to know all the possible causes of failure, even though it seems like an exercise in pessimism.
These are the common reasons why many startup e-businesses failWhy web based businesses fail?

Stale ideas

Web businesses that have nothing new to offer, and are mere clones of an already successful business, don’t succeed. Does your e-business sell a product that is innovative? Is there something completely new about your social networking website? The key to avoid typecasting is to stay fresh. Look for problems and needs that you can solve.

Not defining your customer

The first rule in selling is to know your customer. Some startup e-businesses offer a variety of services and products, not knowing the profile of the users. As a result, they cannot offer tailor-made services for any specific age group or nature of target audience and this reduces the chances of succeeding.

Ineffective Marketing

The best marketing strategy is a well calculated plan. Marketing is the backbone of any business. A web site that has been creatively marketed without any regard to user acquisition costs might become cost ineffective.

For example, even buying keyword ads is a complex process. A good entrepreneur buys keywords that people most frequently use in searches while having high relevance and low competing advertisers. A common mistake most businesses make while cost cutting, is not hiring professional marketing consultants. They work on instinct, and their marketing plans lack a well researched strategy. This makes their marketing strategies ineffective. So the websites they make have inadequate SEO, SEM, and low virality, which results in low traffic to their website.

Poor web designing

Today, most websites seem like clones. Businesses make compromises while designing their web pages. They use free software and badly designed user interfaces.  So, first-time visitors find the home page unattractive and it fails to register in their minds. It is highly unlikely they will ever go back to a web site that’s hard to navigate, is poorly designed and does not offer them something interactive.

A person who wants to use an online personalized gift services will look at several companies that provide the service. He is likely to choose the site which gets the first rule of ‘catchingeyeballs’ right, more so when you are dealing with the business of ‘feel-good’- gifts.

Web businesses with cluttered, badly color coordinated websites, which have long download time and unclear navigational tools don’t work. Only professionally designed, well branded websites, with original and relevant content can be effectively marketed.

Given these reasons, it is best to employ the services of a web designing company to ensure significant online presence.

Lack of web analysis

Web Designing Vs Web Development. Web analysis is a process of analyzing the behavior of visitors to a website and then enhancing and modifying the features of the website to maintain and increase the traffic. Many web businesses design a website and then forget about it; and the resources invested in web designing go waste.Such e-businesses have no feedback regarding their website, as a result of which they cannot maintain a competitive edge.

No Networking

An entrepreneur needs to be friendly and people-focused. It is good to have an extended professional and personal network, before launching a web business.Web businesses that de-prioritize good partner and interpersonal relationships lose out in the long run.

Bad time and money management

A failed web business means that the founders have not managed their finances well. It includes over-spending or ineffective spending. Such individuals overlook the basic tenet of every business- time is money. They spend a lot of time bargaining for small cost reductions, while delaying launching time and other activities vital to growth in the world of start-ups.

The most important thing that leads to failed web businesses is lack of commitment and passion towards the work. Such people may know all the theoretical pitfalls that they can encounter, yet put in a half hearted effort to avoid them when confronted in the practical world. Hence, they continue to fail.

Pankaj Pandey’s expertise as an online marketing consultant and his prowess in custom website development has helped him reach the pinnacle of success, helping various web based businesses achieve success along the way.

Qualities of a Good SEO Consultant

Web marketing is the cornerstone of successful business marketing. One key component of web marketing is the search engine ranking and internet presence of the business’ website. This realization urges businesses to hire professional SEO consultants to manage the internet marketing of their website. However, simply hiring a SEO consultant is not enough. You need to ensure that the firm is capable of providing world class services as well. To do that, look for business practices that are the mark of an excellent SEO service provider. Some of these qualities are:

Extensive Knowledge: A SEO guru should have knowledge of SEO consulting, keyword analysis, content development and copywriting skills, link building and directory submission guidelines. Along with these technical skills, a SEO consultant needs to have a good idea about marketing and the latest developments in the SEO domain. Marketing skills also include research orientation, which will enable the consultant to gain valuable insight which can be translated into optimization tools.

Ability to take hard decisions: The top priority of a SEO consultant is marketing of the website. So the client has to be informed of changes in the website, which might not be very welcome. In such situations, the SEO consultant needs to get the changes done in a determined way. For example, informing a client that expensive Flash designs on the website have no use from a SEO point of view.

Qualities of a Good SEO Consultant

Good SEO Consultant

Customized services: It is rightly said ‘different strokes for different folks’, and this age old proverb holds true for internet marketing as well. No two websites are exactly the same, and so the SEO strategies used for them will also vary. A good SEO consultant will not use the same set of strategies for each client. Rather, the consultant should be able to analyze the unique requirements of the client and provide suitable, customized SEO solutions.

Business understanding: To be able to provide customized services, a SEO consultant must be curious about the client’s business and marketing goals. This drive to know and understand the client’s business shows that the SEO consultant is passionate about the uniqueness and challenges of each project. And the more the consultant understands your niche market; the superior will be his SEO solutions.

Prioritization: In SEO optimization, there is often a need to prioritize content over web aesthetics and long term goals over quick gains. An SEO consultant needs to be able to look at the client’s web pages and logically analyze the level of optimization of the content to come up with strategies. He needs to identify natural integration of keywords, keyword density and remove duplicate content from the text. The tone, choice of words and writing style should be geared towards relevant content, which can then be optimized, before putting the final strategies into action.

Transparency: There are SEO firms which use illegal black hat practices to promote websites and get quick results. SEO firms which use legal and credible practices are willing to share their plan of action with the client. They communicate the basic method and its intended results honestly and professionally to the client. Only those consultants who have something to hide remain furtive.

Pankaj Pandey’s expertise as an online marketing consultant and his prowess in custom website development has helped him reach the pinnacle of success, helping various web based businesses achieve success along the way.

Web reputation management- it’s a necessity

Today people live in two worlds, the real world and the virtual world. They can do most things online, ranging from banking, shopping, socializing to entertainment. The following statistics show the reach of Internet user avenues (approximate):

  • 82.9% of active Internet users watch video clips.
  • About 1.2 lakh blogs are created every day.
  • 72.8% of active Internet users read blogs.
  • Technorati currently tracks 111 million blogs.
  • 63.2% of active internet users visit a photo sharing site.
  • 38.5% of active Internet users upload a clip to a video sharing website.
  • There are more than 90 million users on facebook.

Web Reputation ManagementAnd that’s why companies are now striving to create a strong Internet presence for wider marketing of their products and services. However, content on the Internet can be created by anyone, including the users of business services and products.

Multiple avenues of publishing product reviews, and sharing experiences on the web, have led to the rise of user generated content (UGC) on the web. All companies have online user generated content about their business’ products and services, and these are crucial to their web reputation. Users can converge at various points on the web to share information, some of them being –

  • Social networking sites such as Myspace, Facebook, and Orkut
  • Media sharing platforms such as YouTube, iShare, Vimeo, and Flickr to upload photographs, audio files, and video clips.
  • Knowledge sharing platforms such as Yahoo, eHow, and Wikipedia
  • Blogs.
  • Specialized Online Consumer Forums and discussion boards.
  • Product Review Websites like Ripoffreport and Mouthshut.

The impact of negative and unfavorable user generated content is made exponentially larger through high levels of visibility, discoverability, and networking of these online points. There are many cases where negative online publicity has caused extensive damage to businesses. For example, Tata Consultancy Services has been accused of tax frauds, at a blog tcstaxfraud.blogspot.com/, which turns up in search engines and taints the name of the entire business. Similarly, Times of India, an Indian national daily, was criticized through a blog using the slogan ‘Slimes of India’. Reviews on Ripoff Reports such as “Helen Foundation took me for 4722.00 and said my insurance would pay it, but didn’t give me the bills” also affect the brand image of a business. As user generated content is unregulated, taking legal action against it can be unproductive. Such content is fragmented in nature, making it difficult to identify the author of the information.

A professional web reputation management consultant can counter negative publicity by using new approaches and strategies, such as peer friendly language, user controlled messages, SEO content creation, and dialogue. So, web reputation management services have become a business necessity to survive and succeed in the world of ecommerce. Only a professional firm can handle the negative publicity that your business may get and make sure that it has the minimum possible impact on the image of your brand.

All stats is collected from various source from Internet. I am not responsible for authenticity of  stats.