With all that's going on with social networking these days, we're seeing a lot of figures leverage the popularity of social networks to gain visibility for themselves. We've seen it a lot with musicians, films, and especially politicians, who recognize the potential of reaching out to the teen and young adult demographics that connect over social networks and are hoping to get the young vote for the 2008 Presidential elections. The social marketing blog QuickSprout has noted 3 rules for you to brand yourself through social networks. Here's the abbreviated version:
Create a Profile
It's important to have a profile on every major social network out there, including MySpace and Facebook(). Most profiles have public URLs that become hubs for people seeking information on you. They're great because they allow you to share pertinent information for the rest of the world to see. We've seen it with politicians such as John Edwards, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama on MySpace, YouTube ()and even Twitter(), as they rake up friends and offer a place to disseminate updates and announcements in a way that reaches MySpace users quickly and easily; on their level.
The more customizable the profile, the better. MySpace(), Magnify and Bebo offer a pretty high level of customization, enabling you to add backgrounds and color schemes that match your brand. Magnify can also be incorporated into your existing site or profile elsewhere.
In order to get visibility for your profile, you need to network. This means, get out there and connect with the other users. Send them messages, add them as friends and leave comments on their user profiles. You can also join and start groups that are related to topics that connect back to your brand, participate in forums and chats, as well as special activities a site may have, such as Vox()'s Quotd, which is a daily question they pose to the community. This allows you to reach other users on a personal level, and lets them know you're an active member of the community.
You see this a lot with musicians and profiles that are set up for movies or series, such as pop singer Mandy Moore, who holds several contests on sites such as Photobucket(), and Prom Queen and Afterworld, who have garnered quite a following on MySpace and YouTube. Facebook newsfeeds and Twitter updates will also let your friends know what's going on with you, which sparks a continued interest in your profile. Several services have incorporated Twitter into their own sites, such as MyBlogLog and 30Boxes, so no matter what networks other people are using, there's a growing chance they'll still see what's new in your life. Twitter also makes it easy for people to keep up with you even when they're on the go, as Twitter gives SMS updates as well.
In order to get people to remember your brand, you'll have to make sure they see it over and over again. In order to achieve this, you'll need to get people to keep coming back to your profile. You can do this by giving updates about yourself and your brand, and adding interesting content such as photos and videos.
I'll add to this the use of widgets. If you create a widget with content that's directly related to your brand, and this widget is exportable directly from your profile, you are encouraging others to place the widget on their own profile, letting them work for you while still expanding the recognition of your brand. You'll need to incorporate a way for people to know how to get back to your site if you decide to use widgets. If the widget itself can't be linked back directly to your profile, add a caption to your images slide show or video that displays your brand and your public URL. Try to keep this simple. Services for photo and video editing include MixerCast, Mojiti and Jumpcut.
If you employ a widget strategy, you can use tools such as those offered by ReverbNation, which gives you stats and demographics for your profile and your widgets, so you can see where they are the most effective, and what type of people they appeal to.
Major Lesson Learned
One key takeaway from these guidelines is to remember that smaller, even niche social networks can be used to build up your presence in larger communities. A lot of smaller sites offer tools that will let you incorporate additional content that's important for branding purposes, as well as ways to manage your overall web presence, offering compatible tie-ins with larger networks.