The Influence of Natural Mentions
Last week I was involved with the #blogchatca on Twitter, and one of the things that we discussed was how brands understand what you do. Namely, whether or not they "get" your personal brand.
Since my tweet (pictured above) I've been thinking about how my personal brand is perceived online, and how people know that I'm the sort of person that they want to work with beyond just my About Me page.
The answer is simple: natural mentions. The more positive mentions there are of you online, the more readily people will accept these statements to be true. These can come in the form of recommendations, references to you and a specific thing you did or said, or calls to action (eg: "@cindylouwho, your article about XYZ was so insightful. Everyone should read it!")
Natural mentions benefit you and your brand in several ways:
The more people talking about you, the more relevant you seem. This is marketing 101, but exposure is hyper competitive online and the best way to engage (and control) your exposure is to participate and shape the conversations that you want to be a part of. By giving people specific reasons to mention you in a natural, positive way, you're subtly reinforcing the overall perception of yourself online.
This leads me to my next point:
Opening Doors to New Conversations
By participating in conversations online you're showing your audience and potential customers that you genuinely care about them and their opinions beyond just what you have to offer them. By doing this, you're giving them a reason to respond to you, care about what you have to say, and to endorse you in the future.
For example, most of the conversations that I have online have nothing to do with my personal brand or my work. Most of it is fluffy, lighthearted, and funny. Sure, I participate in online conversations and dedicated Q&A's about content marketing and social media, but by being an actual person online I'm opening myself to be a part of multiple types of conversations, some of which may lead to opportunities to collaborate and many of which paint me (and my work) in a positive light.
Exposure to a Niche Audience
Do you love cat videos? Are you obsessed with shopping for vintage teak furniture? Whatever you're into, make a point to post, share and participate in discussions which showcase the fact that you're a well-rounded, actual person, not just a marketer trying to convert everything that you touch into a contract or sale.
Case in point: this blog. I could talk about stuff like content marketing and social media until the cows come home, but I'm also a real person who spends time with her friends, learns new things, has anxieties, and even writes the occasional poem or two.
By showcasing these sides of my personality I seem far less one-dimensional than what people might otherwise assume when reading my words through a computer screen. People respond well to other people, not to bot-like interactions which are over as soon as you hit the 'Send' button on your reply.
Additionally, by exposing yourself to audiences who might not otherwise have been your "target audience" you open yourself up for tons of creative and collaborative opportunities that may have eluded you otherwise!
Create a Trusted Reputation
People want to work with me because they see what other people say about me online. Not just my friends (though I always appreciate their kind words) but people who read and share my posts, or clients who have worked with me and felt it to be a mutually beneficial, positive experience.
Whenever a client shares work I've done, or my editor from The Spill Magazine gives me a shout-out on Twitter, these things reinforce that I'm a reliable, hardworking and trustworthy person. They don't have to say it in so many words, but multiple people making general, positive statements increases the odds that someone will see it, and adds to the voices singing your praises online.
In an age heavily reliant on reviews and over-Googling, the more times and places your name comes up in an informal, positive way, the better.
This goes without saying: the more people talking about your work and linking to it, the easier it is for people to find you. If nobody's talking about you, nobody will find you and nobody will be able to engage with you because they won't know that you exist.
I'll level with you: getting people to naturally discuss you and your work takes a lot of time, dedication and effort. You have to consider not just why you want people to talk about your work, but why they want to, as well.