“Eighty percent of companies use search engines and social networks, such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to find information about you (background checks)—if they don’t like what they find, you’re eliminated,” says an Shawbel, personal branding expert and author of Me 2.0: Build a Powerful Brand to Achieve Career Success. The internet has become the calling card of 2011, it is your first impression.
“You can let others tell the story, or be proactive and drive the direction,” explains online branding expert, Mark Nicholson, owner of Reactorr, a Vancouver SEO and digital marketing agency. “Job recruiters are looking you up online more than ever, and your digital footprints can determine your fate.” The problem here is that a potential client may not know you’re a superstar, unless you can find a clever way to communicate that to them.
“You might hate your job now,” exclaims Dan. “But you can build your brand based on where you want to be.” If you miss the opportunity to build your brand, it could be lost the moment a company lets you go. This is why it’s important to create an online presence with your current job (YourName/Company.com), as well as a personal presence (YourFullName.com).
Competing within the Noise
“You are looking at a very competitive environment with a lot of noise,” explains Dan. “People are using advertisements on Facebook and Google to get jobs—they target specific keywords of the company and its leadership.”
For example, let’s say that you put an ad out, bragging about your greatest attributes. In the text, you include several keywords (SEO) for the company, as well as its corporate leaders, such as the CEO, and link back to your blog or website. “When the CEO of that company Googles himself, which 50 percent of them do, he’ll see it, and be interested enough to click the link,” remarks Dan. You have just gained the attention of a major player in that company.
There was a story in Forbes a couple of months back, about a guy who created a YouTube presentation, embedding buttons on the side, including a button for his portfolio, projects, and contact information. “It got thousands of hits—he probably got a job, or at least several interviews because of it,” recalls Dan. “Anything that you don’t see a lot is going to help, and to be the first one to do it is a huge plus—that will get the most media attention.”
You can also target specific people on Facebook through social ads, but one of the newest forms of branding is visual communication. “Video is going to continue to grow,” says Nicholson. “Consider setting up a Youtube channel and creating some videos.”
With information available at an instant, its important to stay on top of your brand and how its presented. Digital branding is no different, and requires managing. There are a number of ways to enhance your online brand, but if you haven’t looked into it, start by evaluating and managing, because you never know who’s looking.
“Just remember, everything has to be backed by a good product,” advises Dan. “You are the product—you have to have the skills, and if you don’t, you’re going to be a hard sell.”