Building a business or personal brand in the digital marketplace can seem overwhelming with all of the tools available and the vast number of
“experts” offering differing opinions about what works. Things seem to change every day!
However, if you start with the five steps outlined below, you’ll build a foundation that positions you for success for years to come regardless of the new tools or changes that might pop up along the way.
1. Set up Your Website as Your Core Branded Online Destination
I speak about marketing and branding at events around the world and one of the first things I always teach people who are trying to build businesses or personal brands is the importance of staking your claim in the online space with a core branded destination. That core branded online destination should always be your website.
A core branded online destination is the center of your online world. All roads lead back to it. When you comment on a blog post, publish a social media update, or publish a piece of content on your site or someone else’s site, readers should always be able to get back to your core branded destination through a link. This is how they learn more about you and decide if they want to engage with you further.
Your core branded online destination should be your own website with your own domain name because this gives you complete control. If you use a Facebook Page as your core branded online destination, what happens when Facebook changes the rules about how Pages work or gets rid of Pages entirely? All of the work you’ve done to build that page could go down the drain! This doesn’t happen when you’re in control of your core branded online destination.
2. Extend Your Reach with Social Media
Once your core branded online destination is established, it’s time to extend your reach. You should do this through social media. Set up a Twitter Profile, Facebook Page, and LinkedIn Profile at the very least. Other social media options that give you more opportunities to extend your online reach are Google+, YouTube, Pinterest, and Instagram. The list goes on and on, but these are certainly the most popular options.
Start publishing and sharing content on your social media profiles and pages. Comment on the content that other people publish and be an active participant in the online conversation. This is how you stay top-of-mind with your audience and continually prove your value.
3. Prove Your Value with Content on Your Own Site
You should also prove your value by publishing useful and meaningful content for your target audience on your own site. Do this on your blog so it’s easy for people to share your content and converse with you about it through blog comments.
Most importantly, don’t write salesy blog posts! Yes, you can mention a product or service from time to time, but too much self-promotion will drive your audience away. Who wants to read one ad after another?
I recommend to all of my clients that they use the 80-20 rule where at least 80% of your content should not be self-promotional and no more than 20% can be self-promotional. Stick to that rule and you’ll have an acceptable balance.
4. Increase Your Influence with Content on Other People’s Sites
Once you’ve established your online presence, it’s time to increase your influence. The best way to do that is by publishing content on other people’s sites. You can do this on LinkedIn or Medium.com as well as through guest posting on other blogs.
The important thing to remember is that you should never republish content on multiple websites because publishing duplicate content can negatively affect your site’s Google search rankings. Since many visitors to your website will come through Google searches, you don’t want your search rankings to go down. In fact, publishing duplicate content could get your site banned from Google search results entirely, and once your site is banned, it’s very hard to get back in.
5. Get Timely and Targeted with Advertising
Now, it’s time to start promoting specific products, services, or messages to targeted audiences. Advertising on websites and blogs where your target audience spends time can be useful as can Google AdWords and Facebook Advertising. Keep in mind, getting good results from Google AdWords and Facebook Advertising can be difficult, so this might be an area where you want to invest in an expert to help you.
Your ads should always be laser-focused — both on the audience and the message. Testing is extremely important to find the recipe for success, so don’t give up too soon! Plan on committing to at least a three month advertising plan before you make any hasty decisions to pull the plug.