By Barry Hurd
RISMEDIA, Feb. 14, 2008-Social Media Profiles can influence if you exist online or if viewers find relevant information about a brand. Whether the brand in question is an individual or business, establishing proper profiles on social media sites can increase search recognition, bolster traffic on specific phrases, and control how visitors perceive your information and presence.
While some companies focus on “the top,” this is a fundamental problem in online marketing and brand promotion. Top results in search technology and branding are created by establishing a presence in many different places.
In basic terms: if you want to be on top of the pyramid – you also have to be on the bottom.
For the purposes of this article, we will focus on how my own name shows up in search results online: “Barry Hurd.”
You can do a quick search on Google and Yahoo for my name, and unlike many professionals, you will see that my information is on dozens of different social media sites that allow profiles. I actually maintain a large list of hundreds of accounts that focus on different business priorities and target audiences.
In the case of my own name, many of my profiles are fairly generic so that they can be used for generic projects. However many of them are seeded with appropriate keywords and links to other sites, articles or items of professional interest for me.
Creating Effective Social Media Profiles
Step One: Use strategy. Before you start creating profiles and running amok through dozens of social media sites, sit down and detail why you are creating these profiles.
Securing a personal brand name, achieving higher search engine results, and exposing your company message to the community are all good goals. Each and every user of social media is going to have different personal and professional goals.
How do you want to present yourself?
What sets you apart from your competitors?
Will you be active in the community?
Step Two: Identify the information you want communicate. To save a lot of time and effort, collect the information you want to share with the world. If this is a professional application to enhance your career status, have an updated resume on hand and highlight the information you want to use. Consistent and clear information through-out a social media project is essential.
What name do you want to use? This is important-as your name will be a primary way people find this information through searching.
What keywords do you want to be found under? In any profile system that allows titles, descriptions, and other information- your priority keywords should be used.
What visual picture is going to represent you? Almost every profile allows an image, have a company logo and profile image handy.
What testimonials can you share? Everyone has a few good things other people have said.
Step Three: Where will I be and who will I be with? Social media has the word “social” in it for a reason. Utilizing your existing network is the quickest way to get a boost to the results that your profiles can have online. Below is a brief sample of sites that some of my information appears on. There are hundreds, if not thousands of sites that information could appear on.
– www.linkedin.com – Linkedin is the largest professional profile service there is. I am active under several profiles in the questions and answers section, and I also use it to create niche networks of professionals for specific business projects.
– www.biznik.com – Biznik is a good example of a niche marketplace of small business owners. The profiles rank very well under search engine results and there are interesting small business conversations happening in the local area.
– socialmediasystems.com/blog – my own company blog, where members of my staff write about various online trends and tactics. Having a presence on my company blog allows me to connect my company brand with my personal brand, which is essential as a consultant and spokesperson for the company.
– www.jobster.com – Jobster is the largest profile based job site. In addition to allowing me to keep track of professionals I know in different companies, the profiles rank very well in the search engine results.
– www.barryhurd.com – my personal blog site with my proper name as the domain. Owning your own name is well worth $10 a year. Roughly 20% of search users type searches directly into a web browser address bar – which means they go to a domain first (if that domain actually exists.)
Step Four: Invite people to participate. While there are branding and minor search engine benefits of social media, the true benefits come from actively participating in the medium by invited associates and other like-minded professionals to connect.
Jump start your social media profiles by writing a quick e-mail to your top 25 contacts and inviting them to see your information.
Make a monthly effort to invite 5 to 10 new connections.
Choose one new social media site each month and create another profile.
Step Five: Taking it to the next level. Here is a list of sites that can keep most professionals growing into the social media marketplace. Spend an hour each month looking at a new community and detailing if it is a good place for you to spend some effort finding new (or old) connections.
To learn more about social media profiles, see 3net Search Engine Marketing Blog.
Barry Hurd is president of Social Media Systems, an online marketing and advertising consultant group working with search engine marketing and leveraging social media communities. He has over 15 years of entrepreneurial Internet and online marketing experience. As an author and prolific blogger, he has reached online audiences around the world. Since the mid-1990s, Barry has been involved in numerous efforts to bring forth technical innovation through online business models. Past projects have included NIKE, REI, TMP Worldwide, Monster.com, Verizon Superpages, Intuit, and RISMedia.