12 Most Tried-and-True Tips for Personal Branding on Google+
Because of social media and the ubiquity of the Internet, everybody has an opportunity to be a content creator. With that opportunity comes a responsibility to build a professional personal brand for yourself online, so you are perceived as a professional and authority in your areas of expertise.
Now, whether you are trying to get noticed by prospective employers, build “street cred” around your consulting services, or simply want to network with more people, there’s no better place to build a personal brand than on Google+. Here are twelve tried-and-true tips that will ensure you get noticed (for the right reasons!):
1. Be yourself
Let’s start with the obvious, shall we? You don’t want to build a personality around yourself on the Internet, only to find that you can’t live up to it when someone calls on you for an interview or speaking engagement. On Google+, you have opportunities to show people your expertise through Hangouts On-Air, long-form posts, and more. Be true to who you are, including times when you might not know the answers.
2. Comment more than you post
Think of Google+ as a global networking event, where you can discover discussions about your areas of expertise and participate through comments. Each insightful comment you leave on a post exposes you to a significantly larger audience than simply posting to your own profile all the time.
3. Put influencers into a circle that notifies you when they post
On Google+, you organize the people and brands you follow into Circles (like Twitter lists). If you are trying to build a relationship with influential people or brands in your industry, put them into a circle that is set to send you a notification anytime someone in it makes a post. That way you can be one of the first to comment, share, or +1, and get noticed by not just the profile you’re stalking following, but also everybody else on that post who comments afterward.
4. Fill out that profile!
Every time you make a comment and get the attention of other users on Google+, they will want to learn more about you. Having a complete profile will show them that you are serious about your personal brand, and they will want to follow you as a result. A complete profile includes a professionally-designed cover photo, strategic text for your hovercard, and a well-written bio with links to all your best content online.
5. Remember everything you post in public is indexed
Google+ is Google, and one of the primary benefits of using Google+ in a content strategy is that your posts are indexed in search. Of course, this could work against you if you are posting about things you don’t want potential clients or employers to find. Or your mother.
6. Weave a common thread with your topics
When you are building your personal brand using Google+, you will want to post consistently about the topics for which you want to be considered an authority. You don’t have to make every post or share about these topics, but it’s important for Google, in their push toward a more semantic web, to recognize a theme with your profile so it can consider you an authority (and push your blog posts about those topics up in search). One way to check this is to look at your Posts tab on your profile… as you scroll down, is there a theme or are you all over the place?
7. Share creative, relevant content
Sharing is a major part of the Google+ culture. As you build a footprint on Google+ by commenting and posting, people will notice you on their threads. Take this to another level by sharing exceptional content (and add a +mention for the author and/or source). Sharing is a very strong social signal to Google+ and shows users that you care about people other than yourself.
8. Be professional, but personable
Look at Google+ as a workplace: you have ongoing conversations (comments), memos (posts), meetings (hangouts). In a workplace, you would conduct yourself professionally under normal circumstances. Just because you get to hide behind your computer doesn’t mean you get to totally let your hair down, especially when all this content can be discovered by prospective clients or employers. However, just like an office environment, a little bit of levity and camaraderie breaks down barriers and builds relationships. Just find the right balance.
9. Consider a community, curation page, or personalized hashtags
Communities can become curation pools for fantastic content. If you build a public community that becomes known for having excellent content shared in, then your members will always look to it for the latest in quality content and ideas. (Not-so-secret tip: if you create a Page that’s linked to your website, make it the owner of that community; some of the community and member activity translates into +1′s for your Google+ page). Or, you could do this with a dedicated page. A third option for organizing your best topical content is to use personalized hashtags (#jaanatip for example) or more common ones like #postoftheday.
10. Use Google+ to your advantage
The platform itself boasts several excellent features to get your name out there and network with the best of them. Events bring tons of people onto a single thread. Hangouts On-Air let you showcase your expertise during and after the live broadcast. Ripples show you who the influential people are on various posts and topics. And Circles offer CRM-like functionality to keep connected with your best contacts.
11. Strive to be a destination
By being very strategic with how and what you post, your profile can become a destination. You want this. You want people to add you to circles that notify them of all your new posts so they don’t miss a single one. Remember how in #3 we talked about putting influencers into circles that notify you when they post? Well, if you become a destination, that will happen to you too!
12. Follower count doesn’t matter, unless it needs to
If you sell services related to Google+, you need a follower count so prospective clients take you seriously. It’s a sad truth that “perception is reality.” But other than that, strive for awesome relationships with your followers, so they want to shout your name from the top of their Home stream as one of the best people to get to know on Google+. Ever.
Sure, some of these strategies will work on other social networks. But Google+ offers people building a name for themselves one distinct advantage: every public post is indexed in Google search. You basically get to double dip with every piece of content you create: not just on the social network part of Google+, but also in search results, where your content may float higher to the top because you’re being active on Google+ and posting about topics you know a lot about. And what better way to be validated than with top rankings in search?
Featured image courtesy of Aubry Aragon licensed via Creative Commons.