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Online Personal Branding

standout_inacrowdOnline personal branding also known as online image management or online identity management (OIM) is a set of methods for generating a distinguished Web presence of a person on the Internet. That presence could be reflected in any kind of content that refers to the person, including news, participation in blogs and forums, personal web sites (Marcus, Machilek & Schütz 2006), social media presence, pictures, video, etc.

Online identity management also refers toidentity exposure and identity disclosure, and has particularly developed in the management on online identity in social network services (Tufekci 2008) or online dating services (Siibak 2007).

One aspect of the online identity management process has to do with improving the quantity and quality of traffic to sites that have content related to a person. In that aspect, OIM is a part of another discipline called search engine optimization with the difference that the only keyword is the person’s name, and the optimization object is not necessary a single web site; it can consider a set of completely different sites that contain positive online references. The objective in this case is to get high rankings for as many sites as possible when someone search for a person’s name. If the search engine used is Google, this action is called “to Google someone”.

Online identity management often involves participation in social media sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, Flickr, YouTube, Twitter, Twitxr, Last.fm, MySpace, Orkut and other online communities and community websites, and is related to blogging, blog social networks like MyBlogLog and blog search engines like Technorati.

Why Build a Personal Brand?

You might already know the answer to this question. There are lots of answers, actually, depending on you, your needs, the way the world has shaped you. Let’s look at just one answer.

The easiest answer is that you might want to be memorable, and you might want to transfer your real world reputation into the online world. A strong personal brand is a mix of reputation, trust, attention, and execution. You might want to build a brand around being helpful, or being a creative thinker or being a dealmaker, or being a showman, or whatever matters most to you, and also what you are capable of sustaining.

A personal brand gives you the ability to stand out in a sea of similar products. In essence, you’re marketing yourself as something different than the rest of the pack. Do you need this? I don’t know. Do you like to be mixed in with the pack?

Hints About Brand in General

What’s the difference between Coke and Pepsi? There’s a taste difference, for sure, but what does the brand signify? Tricky, eh? So what’s the difference between TechCrunch and Mashable to you? I would argue that Michael Arrington is more heavily tied into the Silicon Valley insiders scene than Pete Cashmore, and that the other authors on each site stack differently (I really love Mashable’s Mark “Rizzn” Hopkins, for instance).

Remember that trying to develop a personal brand involves differentiating in a Coke vs. Pepsi, TechCrunch vs. Mashable world. Identifying yourself as the social media expert or the tech geek blogger is about as differentiated as brands of rice.

In some ways, the differentiator on brands is in what you deliver. What differentiates me from others might be in the volume of useful content I deliver. I’m not sure. You tell me what makes me different. My answer would definitely vary from yours.

The Human Side of Brand

First off, remember that branding isn’t playing a role. Be yourself. It will become apparent rather quickly if you’re being someone that you’re not. Gary Vaynerchuk is the same guy, camera on or off. He may or may not tone himself down a bit when meeting new business partners, but I promise you that he reverts to being himself the moment someone’s come to know what he’s about.

Second, you may choose to use some kind of alias, because you’re afraid of the Internet and stalkers. That’s great, except that your brand equity doesn’t stretch to potential jobs, unless you go around explaining that you have a secret identity. As a guy who grew up reading comics, I’m okay with people having identities, but remember: that means the equity doesn’t transfer as simply.

Finally, brands are complex and not especially one dimensional. Don’t try to be a one-note experience. Madonna has much more than one brand element. So does Guy Kawasaki. Don’t whittle yourself down to a simple footnote. Be complex and colorful and interesting. Only, be sure you can say what you’re about in one easy sentence, and that others have a sense of what you represent without your help. Madonna is a creative force of emotion. Guy Kawasaki is an innovator and experimenter.


The objective of online identity management is to:

  1. Maximize the appearances of positive online references about a specific person, targeting not only to users that actively search for that person on any Search Engine, but also to those that eventually can reach a person’s reference while browsing the web.
  2. Build an online identity in case the person’s web presence is minimal or nonexistent.
  3. Solve online reputation problems. In this case, the process can also be named online reputation management.


The reason why someone would be interested in doing online identity management is closely related to the increasing number of constituencies that use the internet as a tool to find information about people. A survey by CareerBuilder.com found that 1 in 4 hiring managers used search engines to screen candidates. One in 10 also checked candidates’ profiles on social networking sites such as MySpace or Facebook. According to a December 2007 survey by the Ponemon Institute, a privacy research organization, roughly half of U.S. hiring officials use the Internet in vetting job applications.

bron: e-personal brand