It is critically important for people to brand what they do, by establishing a name that goes well beyond a mere web presence. Although a modern, attractive website is an important part of the package, your personal branding should go beyond the site, your social media presence and your other online involvement. Branding can make or break you — here is how to use branding to your advantage.

Make Some Noise

With hundreds of tweets going up every second, your message can get lost in a sea of similar notes. The difference maker for you is to write in such a way as to get the attention of other people. You can do this by applying the magnetic headlines advice that Copyblogger’s Brian Clark and others have given to get the attention of your readers.

A little sensationalism can go a long way as long as your headline is based on truth. Practice your art of headline making and apply these points to your social media initiative. Make every character work for you, but leave room for retweets. That means using no more than 120 characters plus your link and hashtags.

Don’t Worry About Followers

You say that your audience is your key to your success? Well, that is true. However, you shouldn’t concentrate on your mere number of followers, rather on the participation rate of people that you follow and that follow you.

For instance, it is not too difficult to obtain 10,000 Twitter followers and more than 1,000 Facebook fans in short order. Those fans, however, are meaningless if they don’t react to what you have to say or interact with you. Better to have a small number of people that hang on to your every word than thousands of followers or subscribers that have no impact.

Demonstrate Consistency

You’re involved online all right. But, you’re also invisible for most of the week. Certainly, you can serve up a winning tweet or wowisome Facebook post on a regular basis. But, your lack of consistency can hurt you. Social media in fact demands constant engagement. Get in the habit of logging on daily and reading the chatter.

On Twitter, share an important tweet with your readers. On Facebook, repost an article to your timeline. Look for additional ways to engage with your audience — you may find that your followers are active elsewhere including on StumbleUpon, LinkedIn and Pinterest. Monitor your involvement elsewhere; step up your game as required.

Give Your Website a Boost

Chances are your website looks great. Chances are it also needs a refreshing of its content. Some of the information presented on your site may be woefully out of date. Examine same and make the required changes.

For instance, your “About” page may no longer reflect what you do or what your business is about. Quite easily you may have added some services, discontinued others or changed your business direction. Your about page should reflect your current information and include the right keywords to draw people’s attention to your site.

Make it Easy to Engage

Just as you want people to find you via social media and head to your website, you want to make it easy for people to engage with you on your site. Review your comment system to see if it works for what you’re doing. If you want customers to comment, make it easy for them to do so — that means there should be no registration required. You can also award people that comment by installing a plugin such as Comment Luv to provide a link back to their site.

For some people, scrapping the tried and true comment system makes sense. Instead, you can integrate your comments with Facebook, enabling people to comment via their Facebook profile. The advantage here is that your comment system appears on your website as well as on Facebook. Comments can then be shared to other profiles making it easy for people to “spread the word” on your behalf.

Defend Your Reputation

As much as you seek to advance your brand, there will be times when you will need to vigorously defend it. This means you need to monitor your brand online and keep alert to possible problems. These days, an issue can quickly get out of hand, causing your company much grief and a loss in revenue.

In the auto industry, Toyota failed to keep ahead of the curve when news of “runaway Toyotas” first hit Twitter. Soon, stories were tweeted by thousands of inpiduals and before this company knew it, major media outlets were running with the story. Toyota’s brand hasn’t been destroyed, but it has been harmed, costing the company hundreds of millions of dollars. Your small business or brand can get whacked too — set up Google Alerts to track what people are saying about you. Respond quickly and with care.

Branding Matters

Ultimately, you can play a huge roll in shaping how your brand is perceived. If you do not do the shaping, then others will do it for you. And perhaps in ways you’d never imagine, bringing much harm to you in the process.