My ongoing job search lately has lead me to do a lot of Googling and a lot of lying in bed unable to sleep, which sometimes leads to me getting up and sitting in front of my computer more. There are a lot of self proclaimed experts online, some of them actually know what they are talking about, some of them just talk a lot. Separating the wheat from the chaff is still a billion dollar problem online, as someone who continues to spend too much time online, here is how I manage my personal social media firehose.
Full discloser, I’m old, older than the average social media expert. So if I’m not using the latest greatest trendiest techniques, well I apologize, I tend to stick with what works.
There are two sides to the content marketing strategy coin, sourcing your content, and distributing the content once you have sourced it. Distribution has gotten easier and easier, it can be automated, there are lots of apps and web services you can use. What is more interesting and more important from a branding standpoint is where do you get your content and how to you continue to come up with content related to your brand?
Obviously you can produce your own content, some social media experts advocating writing a 1000 word blog post everyday. Most people however also repurpose other people’s content and share it. Sharing will be my focus as I have been refining my personal social media strategy over time.
My distribution networks of choice besides still occasionally writing on my blog are Twitter and Pinterest. I of course use other social media networks and Klout gives me a disproportional amount of my score from Instagram, but I didn’t accidentally make 20,000 tweets. The recent US presidential election has confirmed Twitter is still a very effective means of distributing information and misinformation.
I currently do not automate anything for my personal social media accounts, while I’m sleeping, I’m not tweeting, I also keep my phone far from my bed to cut down on impulsive actions and hopefully improve my sleep. If something is keeping me awake at night, I have to get up out of bed to connect to the Internet. Remember you do not have to post right away. I email stories to myself which are then automatically sorted to be read later by my mail client, I keep lists of topics to research and eventually perhaps write about. Sober second thoughts are not thought enough. I can’t stress enough the importance of re-reading an email or a post preferably a few hours after you first write it. This may not help you scoop the world, but it can help you avoid some problems and improve the clarity of your thought. I recommend doing a lot more proofreading than most people do before hitting send or post or tweet.
Damage once done, can be impossible to undo.
Where do I source content? Well, besides Twitter and Pinterest, again full disclosure, I do a lot of re-pinning, retweeting, and of course liking, I get relevent content from Flipboard, which won my personal news app sweepstakes. I also still use RSS, Google Alerts, plus a few trusted web sources, but more and more Flipboard is where I get my news on my mobile phone. When I’m in front of my personal laptop, I have many more options, one of which is of course Google itself, but more and more people are on the go with just their mobile phone.
The content you choose to share affects your personal brand online and thus your career prospects. You can still ‘like’ cat pictures, or gym selfies, or retweet your favourite celebrity or expert you follow on social media, but if you’re at all serious about your personal branding you must share content that you want associated with your name when employers Google you. For instance my latest tweet(s), not retweets or replies, but actual tweets usually show up at the top of my Google results for Muskie McKay, so be careful especially if you are actively job searching.
They do not show up for Andrew Muschamp McKay which is a personal branding problem I may never overcome. Some people have mentioned my nickname, which I’ve had from birth, is unprofessional, so I long ago started de-emphasizing it especially in my job search, but most people who have known me longer than ten years still call me “Muskie” or “Musk”, once you get a nickname, it is hard to lose it, and shockingly we still do not give personal branding advice to primary school children or young parents, though some celebrity children undoubtably have personal branding consultants. I’m sure regular parents park domains or reserve social media accounts for their children nowadays too.
By using this domain plus various SEO techniques such as rel=”me”, my first page Google results are OK. I am able to sleep at night even knowing my personal branding is not optimal due to decisions made by my parents before the world wide web was invented. I also have to live with the fact I’m still too honest for my own good, this does bothers me. However what really keeps me awake at night is my inability to get jobs I want. So I read a lot of expert advice online and I’ve become more strategic in sharing expert advice in order to improve my personal brand online.
One way I’ve taken to tracking the success of my personal branding efforts is Klout. It is much maligned and people are no longer obsessed with it, but if you diligently source content, carefully tag it, and distribute it, you can measure your success by whether Klout and social media in general deem you an expert on that topic. There are of course other ways to measure success, both Twitter and Pinterest have analytics, you can use Google Analytics, and you can of course use vanity metrics like the number of followers you have on Pinterest or Twitter, but lately I’ve been reconsidering Klout.
Considering it’s importance in the modern professional job search, LinkedIn and whether you have endorsements, either written endorsements or the quicker less sincere single button click endorsements is something I should perhaps pursue more, alas I just don’t have much time for networking, personal branding, blogging, social media, or even my job search as I continue to fall further behind in my self imposed study plan. I will be using the last of my vacation days this year to try and catch up.
I still continue to try and improve my expertise on relevant professional topics like: analytics, e-commerce, and project management, not to mention financial analysis as confirmed by Klout. However if you really want Klout or vanity metrics to increase you need to use hashtags repeatedly on Twitter that other people actually care enough to follow. I also recommend building extremely well curated ‘pin boards’ or using some other content aggregation system such as scoop.it or better still your own web domain. Which hashtags you target makes a big difference, I’m not one to advocate highjacking trending topics, better to stick with hashtags that consistently prove popular, these ones have worked for me include:
- #ecommerce (without the dash because you can’t have a dash in a Twitter hashtag)
- anything marketing related
Update One: I tweeted this post exactly once, at whatever random time I finished it in China and it got several retweets, likes, and I got several new followers, all because I chose three good hashtags. I don’t think this is my best post ever, just my latest. The hashtags I used were: #personalbranding, #contentmarketing, and #socialmedia. Not only do real people care about marketing related hashtags, but I suspect there are now a large number of bots being used by online marketers. Choosing a keyword rich post title is always wise when blogging.
However if you really want to be popular you will have to give more thought to using something like Buffer or Hootsuite to automate your social media posting, the time of day you post definitely matters, for my personal account I tend to not automate and to post as soon as I find new content I want to share, the more professional social media content strategy is to automate and post at peak times for each network. Sometimes, the first person to tweet or blog on a topic still wins, even if they are not professional, optimal, or even correct.
Update Two: I decided to give the Klout iPhone app a try. I was able to login with my Facebook account but I couldn’t get it to sync with my Twitter account. I tried several times. I tend to use Facebook just for family and friends and Twitter and Pinterest for public sharing. The Klout app is not very useful if I can not share the recommended stories on Twitter easily, I probably still could do it using my iPhone but they ought to fix whatever is wrong with their app authorization.
I am also fed up with an extremely annoying bug in iTunes/Photos/iOS that never goes away completely no matter how many times I fix it or Apple upgrades their software.
This really must be my last blog post for a while, we shall see if through diligent use of hashtags and social media I further improve my Klout or better still my job. I do think some of the changes I made to WordPress are for the better particularly re-integrating Jetpack even though it is bloated, it seems to have stopped some malicious attacks, I need to do more research on that as well as fighting comment and trackback spam as unfortunately popularity leads to increased spam. Luckily my blog is not that popular, if you have thoughts on how to make my blog more popular or how to improve my personal branding or content distribution strategy, you can leave a comment below. I’m still using Disqus even though it isn’t measured by Klout.
Update Three: Although I should be studying, I keep thinking about my online brand as it is one of the things that has held back my career, besides not being open and honest, you have to really try hard to focus on professional topics. To that end I’ve reordered the topics I follow on Flipboard, I plan to try to spend more time on StackOverflow when I have a working VPN, and finally I will once again do a little more work behinds the scenes on my taxonomy and the structured meta data, especially of some of my old less professional content that I’ve hosted for years. It largely goes unread these days but it can be re-shared as well on social media to boost vanity metrics and Klout. Finally I probably should ditch Professional Share because people do click the share buttons and the Facebook button is currently busted. I myself am behind in updating to the latest Facebook and Google API in my mashup code, it is real work that pays nothing, and as mentioned at the start of this update, I should be studying.