The best kind of personal branding combines real-world communications with virtual visibility and community-building via social media.
Online brand-building enables you to reach beyond the people you can connect with in person and allows you to measure the impact of your actions.
Since online personal-branding efforts are easier to track and measure, you can see how your brand pervades the World Wide Web. Here are five easy-to-use Web tools to help you get a handle on how powerful and prevalent your virtual personal brand is.
1. Google Alerts (www.google.com/alerts)
Google Alerts notifies you via email when your name shows up on the Web, and it provides links to the reference sites so you can see exactly what's being said. That is a great way to stay on top of all references to your name.
When you establish your alerts, remember to put your name in quotes (e.g., "william arruda") so you get accurate results. You can receive alerts in real time or in daily or weekly digests.
Use Google Alerts to track Web happenings related to your area of expertise, too. For example, I have a Google Alert set up for "personal branding" so I can stay on top of the latest articles and conversations related to my passion.
You can also use Google Alerts to stay on top of what's happening with your close professional contacts.
2. TweetBeep (www.tweetbeep.com)
TweetBeep is like Google Alerts for Twitter. It enables you to track Twitter conversations that mention you, providing hourly updates so you can stay connected to and respond to relevant conversations. You can also track who's tweeting your website or blog.
As Twitter becomes more popular (it is already one of the fastest-growing social-media sites), this tool will help you be efficient with your Twitter conversations and also allow you to connect with those who are tweeting about you.
3. Online ID Calculator (www.onlineidcalculator.com)
We developed this tool because we found no way to measure the strength of one's online reputation. In doing research for our book, Career Distinction: Stand Out by Building Your Brand, Kirsten Dixson and I learned that when people google someone, they judge the results based on two factors: volume and relevance.
Volume speaks to the quantity of results on the Web: If there are a lot of search results for your name, surely you have something to say.
Relevance is an even more important element. When someone googles you, that person wants to assess what the results say about you. Are they consistent with how you show up in the real world? Do they back up what you say on your resume or through your interactions with others? Are they compelling? Do they make those who are googling you want to get to know you? What do they say about your personal brand?
The Online ID Calculator will give you a basic understanding of your current online ID. If you use it before and after a major online personal-branding campaign, you can see how the campaign affected your score.
4. Bit.ly (www.bit.ly)
This is a great service for tracking the links that you include in your Web-based articles, blog, and Twitter posts. It's helpful because it shortens standard URLs, but its true value lies in its tracking tools.
With Bit.ly, you're able to see in real time how often your links are clicked, helping you understand the relative popularity of the items you post. It's a great way to measure which sources are most popular (use different bit.ly links for your blog and Twitter posts, for example) and which posts and links generate the greatest interest.
5. Addictomatic (www.addictomatic.com)
This is a useful tool that provides a comprehensive snapshot of how your brand shows up across many online search engines, including video search engines. Type your name in quotes (e.g., "william arruda") and see a custom page created just for you, with input from Google, Twitter, Bing, FriendFeed, Twingly, YouTube, Digg, Flickr, Delicious, Bloglines, Truveo, Wikio, Yahoo, Technorati, etc. You can also use Addictomatic to get a picture of what's happening on the Web in your area of expertise.
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With all these tools, your results represent a snapshot in time. The Web is a dynamic place. You need to be vigilant and continue to use these tools to measure the value of your personal-branding activities.