“No matter where you go, there you are.”
You are your brand. Your brand is you. Wherever your go, there is your brand. Every action you take, every word you speak, every impression you leave, affects how others view your brand.
Last week I wrote a post about brand building through social media. The post in many ways was a follow up to a post written a few weeks earlier that asked can you be found where people are looking. The running theme of both posts was to expand your sphere of influence. Instead of seeing the goal as bringing the web to you see it as giving yourself to the web and being able to influence people beyond your small corner.
Yesterday I asked if anyone would like to guest blog here while I’m on vacation. I offered as an incentive the idea that you could reach a new audience. Two of the blogs I now read daily might never have come to my attention had their authors not blogged elsewhere.
I first encountered Chris Garrett through a post he wrote for Coppyblogger. A few days later and another post. A week after that it was a post on ProBlogger. Or maybe it was a post on BloggingTips? Codswallop? I don’t remember the sequence, but I do know Chris’ own blog was the last place I read his work. By then I was already sold.
Skellie is quickly becoming one of my favorite bloggers. I think in Skellie’s case the first post I read was at ProBlogger. Shortly after I noticed her writing for DailyBlogTips. As with Chris the last place I read Skellie’s posts were on her own blog. And again like Chris I was already sold by the time I arrived.
In both cases a blog post gained my attention and a mental note of the author’s name was made. Neither time did I click immediately back to their sites. But I did become more familiar with names that I then started to notice on other blogs. Second and third posts also caught my attention and in time I did click on a link. Now Chris and Skellie both have a loyal reader.
They each could have used the original post I read on their own site. The content likely would have drawn many links and improved search visibility. But myself and others still might not have found that content or the authors. By pushing their content to another site two authors gained subscribers.
Caroline Middlebrook wrote a couple of posts in the last week about blog commenting. In the first she looked at her stats for the month of October. One observation of the month’s stats were 673 visitors through other blogs. The traffic is a mix of links and comments.
In the second post Caroline sets out a blog commenting strategy and among other things has this to say about developing her brand.
My brand is my name, and I suppose my picture. The way to reinforce my brand is simply to be everywhere! That way, people start to recognise the name and human curiosity may eventually result in a click through.
But, and this is a big but – I will not post trash…
When you comment on blogs you have an opportunity to place your brand in front of an audience that might not be familiar with you. See each comment as an opportunity to further build your brand. By leaving comments that are well thought out you create positive associations and human curiosity does eventually lead to a click and a visit.
Forums and Other Social Communities
Social communities have long been a way to market yourself and network with like minded people. Forums have always had the ability to drive traffic to a website, but they have much more impact as a brand builder.
Before I ever joined a forum I read a lot of them to learn from the wisdom of others. I remembered the names of the people who I learned from the most. One name I used to see a lot was Randfish. The name itself is memorable, but more so was the advice the name left behind. I had no clue who this Randfish was, but time and time again I would learn something from him on one forum or another.
Eventually I found my way to SEOmoz and have been reading ever since. I’ve read every post on the site during the last two years, but I might not have read any had I not seen the name Rand Fishkin as the author of that first post and made the connection with Randfish the forum member.
Through active participation on webmaster and seo forums Rand convinced me to read one blog post he wrote months later. Randfish created a positive association with the brand SEOmoz long before I’d ever heard the name.
Most of my clients found me by first coming across something I’s written on a public forum. It wasn’t anything here that convinced them to contact me. It was content I left on another site that got them to email or pick up the phone. They called because instead of trying to bring them to me, I positioned my brand where they were looking.
The common view of social media marketing is to see it as a way to build a lot of links quickly. It’s a valid way to see sites like Digg and Reddit as a marketing vehicle. Maki recently discussed the importance of social media marketing in this context.
If you read through Maki’s posts on DoshDosh you’ll notice his approach to gaining those links is by building a strong profiles and creating a brand on the sites. You’d be hard pressed to spend time with social media and not come across content Maki submitted. The content is good and adds value to the community. I find myself adding Maki as a friend often so I can see what he’s submitting. Maki has pointed me to posts and blogs I’ve enjoyed and I trust he will continue to do so.
I admit to being aware of DoshDosh prior to finding any of Maki’s social media profiles, but those profiles further the trust I have in Maki and help reinforce the brand. if Maki released an ebook tomorrow there’s a good chance I’d be lining up to buy it because past encounters have left me with a positive association.
Compare that to the idea of exchanging diggs or stumbles to attract attention to ordinary or less than ordinary content. Compare it to the person who’s submissions consist of their own content 95% of the time. The submissions become suspect. I won’t visit them. I won’t add the person as a friend and they hold no influence over me.
The submission might bring in some quick traffic, but the traffic is fleeting since it’s unlikely to be voted up by anyone else. The self-submitting exchanger, might still gain my recognition, but if I commit the name to memory it’s as a reminder to stay away in the future. The associations with your brand go both ways.
Building Your Brand
Branding has two components
- Associations – both good and bad
- Reach of the above associations
You can build both components of your brand by allowing it to travel beyond the confines of your site. Represent your brand in a way that creates positive associations in as many places as possible and you will find more people visiting your site. Give your content to others, add value to blogs with intelligent comments, become an active participant in social communities like forums, and build strong social media profiles and people will gain familiarity with your brand and they will begin to seek you out instead of you having to pull them in.
“One’s destination is never a place but rather a new way of looking at things.”
– Henry Miller