By this point in the guide you have all the knowledge to start building your brand in all areas. One of those areas will be online where you’ll have your website, blog and social profiles. These assets will help you control your personal brand online, but you’ll still need to monitor your brand.
In this guide we’ll go through the reasons why it’s important to monitor your brand along with how you can monitor your brand and take action if and when various situations arise. There are tools you can use, both free and premium, that can help you monitor your brand effectively and we’ll share the best ones and how you can use them.
Why You Need Control Over Your Name
Your personal brand revolves around your name. You need control over your name if you want to gain recognition in your industry. Having that recognition can make it easier for people to find you when they search for your information online.
Throughout your career you’ll come across opportunities including people that might hire you for a new position. These people now use the Internet to find information about you. You want the content they find to represent you well and to be relevant to the person you want to be as a professional.
Having embarrassing results, results with other people or even no results can reflect poorly on your character making it more difficult for someone to hire you or to offer you opportunities. Your online reputation might not be the difference between getting an opportunity, but there is no reason to not have control over your name online today.
People use the Internet to research others. Don’t give them any reason to not make you an offer for an opportunity. You want them to find the content that you control.
Step One Controlling Your Brand In Search
When you search for Aaron Agius on Google (in most countries) you’ll see that nearly all results that appear on the first page are desirable. Efforts mentioned throughout this guide are all reasons for these results, but you’ll notice that Google has introduced Authorship and Rich Snippets. These enhance results especially for personally branded search terms like names.
Here is an example of Google Authorship in action:
The image next to the Louder Online result adds trust to the result. The image also makes the result stand out more, even more than the results above it on the page. This is incredibly powerful.
Another rich snippet that can often appear is a snapshot from a video:
You can use Authorship and Rich Snippets to your advantage when taking control of your personal brand in the search results.
Manage how your name appears in search rankings including on search engines like Google and Bing and also on search engines for popular websites like YouTube, Twitter and Facebook.
Google’s own Google+ is part of the Authorship process, but establishing a profile on Google+ can have more benefits.
Setup a Google+ account and profile. This gives Google the information it needs to know who you are and what you do. Also include links to your other assets like your website, blog and other social accounts so Google can associate you with those accounts and as your brand grows you can have additional rich information in the results:
These actions will all contribute to filling up the search results for your name.
Other ways to control your search results is to guest post on popular websites. We mentioned guest posting earlier in this guide. If you can get published on popular websites, you can use the authority of those websites to build your profile. Those sites are highly regarded in search engines and those articles will likely appear high in the results for searches relating to your name. A well-written article on an authoritative website can be a great result to have when potential employers, partners, clients, investors, etc. are searching for information about you.
Step Two Separating Your Name From Others That Share Your Name
Controlling your name becomes more difficult when you have a common name or have a name that matches or could be confused for another popular brand name. If this is the case for you then you’ll need to work your brand name a little different.
You could also make use of a middle name to separate yourself with the same name. You could also forego your last name and go by your first and middle name only. You could also use your middle and first initials and your last name to separate yourself.
It’s a challenge to find a name that will work, but we’ll talk in the next chapter about the importance of differentiating yourself from others in the world and especially in your industry. You want to be known and you want people to think of you when they see and hear your name.
Step Three Keeping Your Website And Social Profiles Updated
If you search for the names of people you admire, people with strong personal brands, you’ll notice that their personal websites and blogs appear high in the results, but you’ll also notice their social profiles.
The reason social profiles rank highly is that they are popular websites. The engines recognize the relevance of social media profiles now and return those profiles in name searches because they provide good information for the searchers.
However, one wrinkle in the search results is that it will often be the person’s most updated social profile that ranks highly when searching for their name. The one exception might be Google+, but often you’ll see that the Twitter profile will rank high for someone that uses Twitter.
One key to controlling your search results is to maintain your website with fresh content. A blog is a good way to do this. You can also control the social profile that ranks highly for your name by keeping your preferred social profile updated and fresh.
How To Remove Less-Than-Ideal Search Listings
One of the biggest frustrations with online brand management is finding and removing less-than-ideal search listings. Nobody is perfect and in today’s world it’s very possible that an unflattering photo, video or article might find it’s way to the top of the search results.
If you search for your name and find results that could potential damage your brand you’ll want to get it removed. Here are the steps you can take to remove those listings as a way to control your online brand and make sure people are seeing what you want them to see.
Step One Reach Out To The Content Owner
Let’s say your friend posted a photo of you from college or from a night of celebration. It’s not your best photo and you want to remove it. Or let’s say you wrote a political blog post on someone else’s blog many years ago that was really a rant and doesn’t make you look good today.
The first step to remove these negative results is to reach out the owners of the websites or profiles and ask them if they would remove the content. Explain the reason why you would like the content to be removed. Most people will understand.
You can reach out via email if you have the person’s email address. You could use contact forms to reach out to websites. You can also use social media to reach out to people, but use direct messages to keep the conversations somewhat private.
When reaching out, never be abrasive in your approach. You don’t want to give the person a reason to keep the content on their site. Some will be difficult, but always be cordial and appreciative. If they don’t agree to take the content down you can resort to other methods mentioned below.
Avoid being confrontational at all costs. It can lead to more negative results and negative reaction that can reflect worse on your character than the original content.
Step Two Delete Social Profiles Yourself Or Contact Social Networks
Obviously if there is a social profile (maybe a MySpace profile) that you want to take down you can delete it yourself. It might be an old social network or maybe a forum account where you used to post things that seemed fun five or ten years ago, but now they just seem immature and inappropriate. If you can still gain access, do so and delete the entire profile and all associated content.
If you can’t gain access you can usually contact the website or social network, explain the situation and they will delete the content. Again, keep it cordial and nonabrasive and you’ll have the best chance to have the content removed.
Step Three Report Negative Mentions If They Break Site Conduct
One item that is in your favor with negative content is that you can usually get websites to remove it if the content breaks the site’s code of conduct. If someone posts something about you that isn’t true or that breaks the rules of the website, there is usually a course of action to report the content.
If that is not available you can usually submit a contact form request or send an email to the site’s administrators. Show them the offending content, mention the appropriate rule in their code and ask for the content to be removed.
Often on social networks you’ll get negative mentions or mentions that are offensive. These can reflect poorly on your brand. Usually you can let them go because people can see through the person that wrote it, but if it gets out of hand the social network will likely respond if you report the content.
Step Four Work To Build Positive Results To Bury Negative Results
Finally, if the above courses of action don’t work you can still take control of your results in search and on social media by creating content that is more relevant and more likely to rank and be seen. You can bury negative results with positive results.
Launch your personal website. Keep it updated with fresh content on a blog. Start your social media profiles and keep them updated with fresh content. These pages will start to rank and push negative results down especially if you can build authority to the pages by getting links and social shares.
Also look to do guest blogging on popular sites. We mentioned this earlier in the chapter and it’s a good strategy. The more authority the website has the more likely it will be ranked high for search results related to your name.
Tools That Help You Monitor Your Brand
Big brands need to know what’s going on with their brand online. It’s a challenge to manually search for and find every mention related to a big brand online. That’s why tools exist to help these brands monitor their brand names, products and services.
But these monitoring tools aren’t made only for the big brands. Individuals can use these tools to monitor mentions of names and other items including businesses that you’d want to work for or with. You might want to monitor mentions of specific job titles that might be mentioned across social media to keep track of openings. These tools do all the work to find the information for you and allow you to find what you need quickly so you can take action.
Tool One Google Alerts
Google Alerts is a free service provided by Google. Obviously, Google is one of the best when it comes to crawling the Internet for information. For them, Google Alerts is a nice service to provide users and it does a pretty good job of finding names, phrases and keywords published anywhere that the Googlebot can access.
You need a Google account and a Gmail address to take advantage of Google Alerts.
The first alert to setup is the one for your name; the one you’ve chosen to make for yourself as we discussed in a previous chapter. Enter your name inside quotes. This ensures that you’ll only get alerts for your exact name and not instances where your first name appears in one location on a page and your last somewhere else on the same page.
The default settings for receiving alerts are good. You’ll get updates once a day from everywhere and anywhere your name is mentioned online. If you’d like you can set up the alerts to go to your inbox as-they-happen, which is fine if you don’t get too many results.
You can then setup and change Google Alerts to create a list of words and phrases you want to monitor. It can be variations of your name, business names, job titles, etc.
There are limitations with Google Alerts. You only get alerts for information that Googlebot can access so information behind passwords, like on social networks, is not detectable so you won’t know when you’re mentioned on those types of sites in some case.
Tool Two Radian6
Radian6 was a standalone monitoring software that was acquired by Salesforce in 2011. The service allows you to track mentions of your name and other keywords throughout the website on millions of different sites including sites like Facebook and Twitter. It also tracks things like blog comments, forum posts and more.
With Salesforce, you can use Radian6 to track mentions of brand names and work that into a sales campaign, bur it has value for those with personal brand goals too.
You can input the same information that you would in Google Alerts including your name, business name, etc. Then you can track for mentions of those keywords and phrases. You’ll have access to the information on a dashboard.
When you see an opportunity you can leave to reply to a specific comment on a blog or in a forum thread. You can reply to a new job posting and do all the other things we’ve been discussing in this guide.
Tool Three Mention
Mention is another social monitoring tool. It’s a standalone tool that works like Google Alerts, but aims to go further than a free service. Although, with Mention you can get your first alert for free so you can track mentions of your name throughout the web including some social media sites for no cost.
The service even offers analytics and reporting on the number of mentions your alerts get. This is great because it allows you to set goals for the number of times you want your name mentioned each month or each quarter and you track your progress.
One of the goals for personal brand management is increasing awareness for your name. Awareness can increase as you publish more blog posts, guest posts and contribute comments and posts to blogs and forums. With Mention, you can track the interaction with all those items including the number of shares your content receives especially when you gust post.
Tool Four Talkwalker
Talkwalker is another monitoring tool. You can enter your name like the other tools, but you can also enter relevant topics. So you could enter the industry that you work in now or want to work in, in the future.
With Talkwalker, you can get really fresh updates about your industry so you can act on the latest events and trends. When something popular comes along in the feed you can quickly act to provide commentary on it with your social media updates or with a blog post. You could also use the tool to track popular trends and quickly offer to write guest posts for popular websites since they’ll be looking for hot topic items for their sites.
Tool Five HootSuite
HootSuite is an entire social media management tool. You can track different mentions of your name on social media, but you can also manage each of your social profiles through the tool by sending updates, responses and more.
With Hootsuite, you can really combine all your social efforts into one platform. This is the perfect tool for finding the people you want to interact with on social media and really form relationships with them. Interact with your target audience on social media. Track those that respond and continue interacting with them to build a relationship.
Write top lists on your blog. For example, write a post titled, “Top CMOs In Online Retail”. Share the post on social media and mention those you’ve included in the post when you share it on social media. Then, after those people re-share the post and interact, continue responding to their updates and providing comments. Don’t be annoying, but keep in touch and track the relationship using HootSuite.
Tool Six Moz Fresh Alerts
Moz Fresh Alerts is part of the Moz software package and specifically part of Fresh Web Explorer. Fresh Alerts are meant to provide better results than you would get with Google Alerts.
Moz provides great recommendations for their tool in this post. They recommend using the tool as a way to build links. For example, when someone mentions your name on a blog post, forum, etc., you can see it with Fresh Alerts and contact them asking if they would link to your personal website. This builds not only a link to your site for traffic, but it increases the overall number of links to your site, which remains an important SEO factor.
Moz suggests that you can also track competitors and you can track the success of your content while discovering publishing opportunities and guest post opportunities.
Tool Seven Twitter Search
Finally, don’t overlook Twitter Search. When you’re logged in to your Twitter account you can use the search function to track any name, keyword or phrase mentioned within the social network.
Obviously you can track your mentions on your Notifications feed, but to track simple mentions of your name you need to use Twitter Search while searching for “your name”. Keeping it in quotes brings back exact results for your query. You can also search for your website and blog URLs. This way you can see any time someone shares one of your pages or posts on Twitter without mentioning your Twitter handle.
How Not To Handle Negativity
When you build your personal brand online you’re going to come across negative people with negative responses to your posts. Using social networks like Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook give you a platform, but it also gives other people a platform to give their feelings toward you. It can happen on your own website and your blog as well.
In order to build your personal brand you have to put yourself out there by giving your thoughts and publishing content. People are going to like what you have to say. They will find value in what you share, but some will have negative things to say and it’s difficult to handle it.
The worst thing you can do with a negative person online is to try and “correct” their feelings about you and your content. They have generally made up their mind about you and what you’re doing so there is very little chance of convincing them otherwise. Instead, when you respond to their feedback you’re igniting their fire and showing that you’ll engage with them. This opens the door for them to continue to have fun at your account. They are out to get a rise out of your emotions and when you respond, especially when you respond with high emotion, you’re giving them exactly what they want.
In other instances you might find yourself receiving constructive criticism. There is a difference between people that throw baseless insults your way and people that provide things that are constructive. This type of feedback is good online, but when taken in the wrong context, people have fought back against criticism and this can lead to huge blowups and very public and very embarrassing situations.
There is one example with a couple that owned a restaurant. They appeared on a popular television show where they heard constructive criticism. The couple took it as negativity and fought back. They fought back on the show and people started commenting on the couple’s Facebook page. The couple became outraged and fought back with a barrage of comments. This made the people following the couple online even more engaged and the online fight became worldwide news.
This is an obvious example of a way not to handle negativity. Never fight back against constructive criticism. You can choose on your own whether you use the feedback or not, but you never want to fight back against it especially in a public forum like Facebook or another social media site. You don’t even want to fight back against it in the comments on your own blog. Again, you’re never going to “win” these fights or convince the other person that they’re wrong and that you’re right.
How To Handle Negativity
Perhaps the best way to handle negativity is to ignore it. Negativity usually comes from the very vocal minority of the audience that follows you. There are simply some people in the world that get pleasure from making others feel bad. The important thing to remember is that these people are not the ones in your target audience. You’re not creating content for them. You’re not trying to get something from them or to form relationships with them.
Ignore the negativity and focus on the people that really matter. When you can let go of the negative people you can focus on what matters including constructive feedback, which will come from the people that care about you.
There are other ways to handle negativity. Singer James Blunt had a high profile reaction to negative people that interacted with him on Twitter. The singer took the sarcastic approach to the negative people sending him replies on the social network. People loved it, but it was a risky move. James Blunt was able to have fun without really attacking the people he was responding too. Outside viewers could see what he was doing and it came across well. It showed his personality a little bit and maybe showed that he didn’t take himself too seriously.
Again, it’s risky to take this approach. The quiet approach usually works best when it comes to negativity on social media. There is just so much risk to respond to it, but if you’re genuine and honest while showing restraint you’ll usually have luck if you engage with negative interaction online.