Social media has given us great ways to protect and build our digital reputations. Today we have the ease of searching conversations, the ability to set alerts to help us monitor our names, the constant availability of learning opportunities and more ways to communicate and interact with others. All of these tools, which were not available just a few years ago, now make it possible for us to be proactive in maintaining, building and protecting our good name. Here are five easy ways to do just that:
#1 Set Goals
I am sure you have done this already, but just in case, first do a search on Google for your name in quotation marks. It is important to see what comes up on the first page. The first page of a google search result is precious real-estate. Then set up a simple spreadsheet so you can keep track of your digital footprint. Do a little research and spend some time collecting numbers. How many Facebook followers do you have? What kind of traffic do you get on your site? Once you have the numbers you can then decide on your goals.
Are you interested in growing the numbers of links/connections/followers or do you want more one-on-one engagement? Or are you more interested in getting retweets on Twitter (which, as Guy Kawasaki said recently is "now the sincerest form of flattery"). Once the goals are in place, track the results in the spreadsheet and adjust as needed.
To accomplish any of these goals, you are going to need to learn. The new world of communication is moving quickly, which naturally lends itself to a couple of advantages. First, there is a lot of room for experimentation, so use your talents and skills to communicate in your own unique way. Second, this experimentation has led to collaboration, and smart people are sharing information all the time. Make sure you make time every day for "learning." Look over sites and information to keep up with the developments in social media. Currently I am taking part in an online conference, called Social Media Success Summit 2010 and am learning a lot. And among the many sites I visit, one of my daily stops is: PR Daily News: Public Relations news and marketing in the age of social media.
#3 Develop Content
To communicate 24/7, which is now the expectation and the norm, you need to develop different types of content. Blogging is a great way to share your knowledge and collaborate with others. However, blogging can be a big undertaking. Blogging expert Denise Wakeman recommends that you blog 3 times a week. If that is a daunting task for you, try guest blogging on an established site or blog in your industry. Another way some of my clients have developed content is through books, ebooks, whitepapers, audio recordings, slide presentations and videos.
#4 Build Relationships
Building and maintaining relationships has never been easier. Those of us in sales and marketing have always known the value of relationship building, but now everyone needs to make it a priority. Make sure you have profiles on LinkedIn, and Facebook. Twitter is a fantastic source of information, and an excellent place to learn. People on Twitter are eager and happy to help each other. To get tips on effective communication on these sites, I look to Cindy Ratzlaff who has a daily video tip along with regular blog posts on her site. Social media is an excellent way to build relationships, but don't forget the value of face to face meetings, phone calls, hand written notes, and emails. It's good to focus on important clients and influencers, but leave room for the "accidental" connections. Social media networking can be serendipitous, you never know which person may lead you to a new connection or client.
Social media alerts (Google or Social Mention) are a great way to monitor your name and/or industry. If something important happens in your industry you'll know about it and can comment. If someone says something positive, a thank you goes a long way. If there is negative chatter starting up around your name or company, alerts keep you on top of it and you can jump in and take care of things quickly. I also use Addictomatic which is a great site for big picture monitoring.
There are many tools and resources now that can help us to become better communicators and better guardians of our reputations. I know it is a big undertaking, but the question to ask yourself is: If you are not investing in yourself, why should anyone else?
Fauzia Burke is the Founder and President of FSB Associates, a web publicity and social media firm specializing in creating awareness for books and authors. Founded in 1995, FSB's mission is to give authors an opportunity to promote their work to an eager, targeted audience online. FSB is based in the NYC area. Please engage with FSB on Facebook.For web publicity and social media news, follow Fauzia on a new Twitter feed: @WebSnapshot