Companies manage their online presence with a rigorous interest. From monitoring page rankings, updating Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook profiles with interesting content and counting social mentions and shares, businesses do their best to ensure they present themselves at the absolute best to anyone searching online.
With online profiles becoming more and more important, a small array of personal branding tools are cropping up to help individuals manage their own online presence too.
Why does personal branding matter?
It’s easy to see why businesses care about managing and improving their online presence. But why should you care personally?
Doing a Google search on someone will likely throw up a whole load of information. And chances are some of you might not be too proud of.
Equally, if you have a common name it may be hard to differentiate yourself from others and ensure anyone searching for you finds the right you – just look at the story of Pete Kistler, founder of Brand Yourself.
Even if you aren’t actively job hunting, building an online profile that does you justice is really important, as you never know who might be searching for you! Recruiters, former colleagues, college professors, your next date…
And of course, building a credible personal brand for yourself online takes time – so start now, and you can have an online presence you are proud of by the time you need it. Here’s our selection of the best personal branding tools out there, to help make this possible.
LinkedIn is probably one of the most well-known personal branding tools for professionals. It works a bit like an online CV, in that you can publicly document you education and employment history to share with the world. However, it does more than CV can – you’re not limited to a two page Word Doc for a start, and you can upload videos, presentations and files to help show more of the work you have done.
It’s certainly very useful, as being used more and more commonly by recruiters searching for job candidates, both before and after the interview process.
Verdict: A bit of a necessity now really. However it still has a very corporate feel, with no customisation options and little chance to show personality and creativity.
About.me is very simple personal branding site, that lets you create a central web page to direct people to your other content and online profiles. It takes seconds to set up, and does look pretty slick. However, the fact it is so simple and easy is both a good and a bad thing. Whilst it’s great that about.me pulls in content from all the big social media sites, you can’t choose what updates it displays – so if you tweet about how excited you are for #McBusted2014 (yes, I did) this might be the first thing a potential employer will see. Perhaps not the first impression you were hoping for…
Verdict: Looks great, and is really simple. But not the best for sharing content created.
Whilst uptake has been slow on Google+, and it’s been given a fair bit of stick from various online communities, I believe Google+ will become increasingly important as a personal branding tool in 2014 and beyond. Because of its links to Google Search, Drive, Gmail and other applications, chances are your Google+ profile will gain a greater visibility than other sites. Especially if you are a blogger or writer (in any capacity), Google Authorship may be increasingly important for getting click-throughs on search results, and getting your work found and read.
Verdict: Google+ may not quite be the big dog of the personal branding world, but it’s certainly worth having a profile that looks half decent – chances are Google will have created you one anyway when you signed up for Gmail/Youtube etc…
Vizify is one of several fairly new personal branding tools out there, and it has a really slick feel. Like about.me, it takes just seconds to set up, and pulls in all your information from the online profiles you choose to connect with it – places you’ve lived, work history etc.
Its layout is a bit more complex than about.me (you’re not confined to a one page view), but I quite liked the flexibility you had in choosing what information to display on your front page, and what to hide elsewhere. The slightly annoying thing I found was that it pulled in some old tweets in the form of ‘quotes’ , so I had to spend a bit of time playing around with those and working out how to get rid of them. You also have to upgrade (and therefore pay) to be able to upload any content (documents, pdfs etc) which could be an issue for some.
Verdict: Very quick to set up, and looks pretty neat. I’d question the usefulness of some of the functions though (do you really need an interactive map showing the places you’ve lived? And mini infographics on what your superpower would be?) even if they are cool.
I’ve got to admit I haven’t properly tried Brand Yourself, so can’t say how first-hand how well it works. The essential gist is that it is free SEO for your personal brand – you submit three webpages (social media profiles, a blog etc) that you want to appear near the top of Google search results for your own name. Then Brand Yourself works its magic to help make it happen. However, you’ll have to pay to enhance more than 3 web pages, or to get any negative results buried (which to me seems the most appealing bit).
Verdict: Probably worth doing if you care about the order your profiles rank in, or if you have a common name. Fortunately for me, my Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook profiles already rank highly for searches of my uncommon name, so it’s not something I really have a use for.
Somewhere is a new platform only just launched in 2014, built on the proposition of sharing the story behind the work that you do. Its interface is beautifully presented, and gives you the scope to share more about yourself than a CV or LinkedIn profile allows – things that inspire you, your management style, even what your desk looks like! I’ve got to be honest, even though I’ve been given an invite to Somewhere and signed up, I haven’t fully had chance to have a proper go yet – and there is a part of me which isn’t too sure how personal I want to get with it! (There is a bit of potential for cringe-fest in my opinion) Keep your eyes peeled though, this could be one the next big personal branding tools out there.
Verdict: As a personal branding tool, to me Somewhere seems to be a more personal version of LinkedIn, with information presented in a much more visually appealing way. Certainly one to watch – I will be very interested to see how it develops.
A blog is great way to demonstrate your knowledge and expertise, and share your opinions and insights out to the world. But, blogging isn’t for everyone. And it can be damn hard work to keep finding new ideas of things to write full length posts about – as well as finding the time to do it.
This is why Passle is so useful – you can create a blog, or just a summary page of all your interests, opinions, and content you’ve created. You can capture videos, images and presentations in seconds using the Passle button to present on your beautiful, fully-customisable page, as well as sharing industry news and professional insights to really bring your personal brand to life. You can even add a bio and links to other online profiles, so everything is brought together all in one place and you can create a vibrant, interesting online presence.
Verdict: If your looking for somewhere to easily demonstrate your expertise, share news and views with the world, and link to your other online profiles (without the effort of maintaining a regular blog!) then Passle could be for you.
Is there anything I’ve missed? If you know of have any other great online personal branding tools, do leave me a comment!
A great summary of what’s to come. Thanks for putting this together. Will look forward to future updates!
YOBSN Your Own Branded Social Network is an interesting one too.
Thank you! This was exactly what I was looking for and after struggling for many days, I finally found the correct search terms and ended up on your post. As a guest blogger on several blogs I would like to have one site where all of them are listed beautifully. Let’s see if one of the above would do the trick (and still be alive to start from).