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  • 4 Step Personal Branding With Google Buzz

    Google Buzz has been talked about nonstop since it came out, from Fox News to NPR and back again. Stories typically range from security flaws to tips on how to best use the new social network. Buzz is Google’s current attempt to have a social network and compete against the likes of Facebook. What’s different about this network is that it leeches onto Gmail’s current user base, which is already used by around 176.5 million people. As a symbiote, Buzz taps into your current Gmail network and shares your content with your Buzz followers, much like Twitter, but in a gated environment, much like Facebook. It may appear like a “Twitter clone,” but most heavy users say it resembles “FriendFeed,” where you can publish more than 140 characters and assemble large discussions with your followers. It even has the “liking” system that is familiar to FriendFeed and Facebook users.

    1. Use Your Google Profile as a brand portal

    Google announced “Google Profiles,” quite some time ago, but now we’re seeing the importance of these profiles emerge, with the launch of Buzz. It’s obvious that Google wants your profile to become your personal brands portal on the web. They want you to share your profile URL instead of the URL’s for your other social networks because you can link to all of your other profiles from your Google one. Also, just like a Twitter profile, you can verify your Google Profile to make it seem more legitimate.

    Three main benefits of having a Google Profile:

    1. When someone googles your name, your profile shows up at the bottom with your picture. If you don’t create and complete your profile, then someone who shares your name can own that spot. Search results display three profiles per searched name.
    2. It has “Google juice,” which means that the websites you link to from your profile will have a boost in the search engine. It will eventually mean that your buzz’s, through your profile, will also rank high for certain keywords.
    3. It acts as a central hub for all the information you share, your professional and personal information and contact information. In this way, it allows you to manage your digital identity, as well as others.

    A Google Profile, if completely filled out, should answer these five questions:

    1. Who is this person?
    2. Where else are they located on the web?
    3. How do I connect with them?
    4. What value are they creating?
    5. How many people are following them and who is following them?

    When you first create your Google Profile, make sure everything is filled out. This includes, basic information such as your name, location and companies you’ve worked for. Also, before creating your profile, make sure that you registered your Google account name with your full name and not a nickname because you can have a custom URL (http://google.com/profiles/firstname.lastname). This is an important move for personal branding because of name recognition. Next, you want to add the same avatar/picture that you use with all of your other profiles. Then, check off “Display my full name so I can be found in search.” I’ll leave the other two check boxes, that have to do with privacy, up to you. Fill out your bio and include links throughout it. You should use the same bio, word for word, that can be found on your blog or website.

    Finally, add links to your website, blog, and prominent social profiles (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn) that you’re active on. Use the full names and URL’s when you add each site because it’s good SEO. Order the sites from the site that best represents you as a brand to the least. If you want, you can also add your Flickr photos into your profile by going to the “Photos” tab when in edit mode. To take this one step further, you can purchase a domain name (yourname.com) at MyDomain.com (sponsored link) and redirect it to your Google Profile.

    2. Syndicate external content into Google Buzz

    There’s no doubt that Google will prioritize Buzz in search, which means that content, engagement and authority is important for ranking high. For instance, on Twitter, if you’re a power user, with a large following of influential users, and you tweet, then it’s highly probable that it will rank high in search. This, one can assume, will be similar to how Buzz operates, but only for users that make their profile and feed public.

    While many of my followers believe you shouldn’t link your Google Buzz account to your other social networks, I believe that it’s the only way to scale your online identity. As we join more and more social networks, yet focus on the few that are really paying off for us, we will have to scale our personal brands to remain active on those networks.

    You can add “connected sites,” such as:

    • YouTube
    • Twitter
    • Flickr & Picasa
    • Google Reader
    • Google Status

    From my experiments, I’ve noticed that people respond much better to fresh and not syndicated content, but if you shy away from adding these services, then it will appear like you’re an inactive user (if you don’t have the time to manage your Google Buzz account).

    3. Create tighter relationships with close contacts

    So far, Google Buzz is positioned as a social network for your friends and close business contacts, instead of a megaphone that you can use, such as Twitter, to market yourself to the world. It is possible that this may change and Google might create a separate space, away from Gmail, for Buzz though. Since Buzz draws upon your current “inner circle” of Google contacts, it gives you the ability to stay and touch with people that are important in your life. Just like any community, you have to share useful information, leave comments, help others and be personable, if you want to use it successfully.

    You can even develop your relationship on Google Buzz by using the mobile iPhone application! This way, you can interact with other Buzz users around you and you’ll be notified when they buzz, which might be uncomfortable at first, but pose for an interesting networking opportunity.

    4. Promote your Google Profile/Buzz account

    Since Google Profiles contain your personal and professional information, in addition to your lifestream, it’s wise to start promoting this single URL to all of your contacts, instead of each individual site. Why promote your blog, Facebook fan page, YouTube channel and eight other URL’s, when you can promote one that can connect other people to all of them? When you promote your Google Profile, make sure the URL appears like this: http://www.google.com/profiles/dan.schawbel#buzz. This way, when someone clicks the link, they will be taken directly to the “buzz” tab in your profile.

    Ten places to promote your Google Profile:

    1. Open up all of your social media profiles and add a link to your Google Profile.
    2. Instead of listing one hundred URL’s on your business card, list your website/blog and your Google Profile URL.
    3. In your email signature, put your URL.
    4. If you guest post on a blog or write an article for an online site, put your URL in your byline.
    5. Write a blog post talking about Google Buzz, while listing your own account.
    6. You get one URL in your Twitter profile, so add your Google Profile URL there.
    7. Add a Buzz WordPress plugin to your blog so that people can promote your posts to their Buzz accounts.
    8. Update your Google status with an announcement that you’re using Google Buzz and link to your profile.
    9. When commenting on blogs, use your Google Profile URL instead of your website or blog.
    10. Have other Buzz users promote you by sharing great content in the first place.

    Google Buzz is here to stay. You’re probably already using Gmail and if you’re not, then you should really make the jump soon because having a Hotmail or Yahoo account is outdated and will make people perceive you as someone who isn’t keeping up with the times. Remember to complete your Google Profile, connect all of your websites, build relationships and promote your profile wherever you can. There’s no doubt in the future that the people who have build their personal brands on Google with Buzz will gain more visibility in search and become more successful.

    Dan Schawbel is the Managing Partner of Millennial Branding, a Gen Y research and consulting firm. He is the New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of Promote Yourself: The New Rules For Career Success (St. Martin’s Press) and the #1 international bestselling book, Me 2.0: 4 Steps to Building Your Future (Kaplan Publishing), which combined have been translated into 15 languages.

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    Posted in Career Development, eBrand, Marketing, Networking, Personal Branding, Social Media, Success Strategies
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