Building a Personal or Professional Brand on the Web – Part 2

Facebook, MySpace, WordPress, del.icio.us, Twitter, Live Spaces — Web Pages, Web Sites — HTML, Java, jQuery, Perl — SQL, Oracle, MySQL

Oh, my.  What on earth are you to do?!?!?  These are just a few of the literally thousands (if not tens of thousands) of services, applications, technologies, databases, etc. that you could run into as you start to implement your brand.

In Part 1, I talked a little bit about the fact that you need to have a good strategy before you launch your online brand.  Once you understand the parameters which makes sense for you, you can start to think about the various tools and applications you ought to use.

There are a lot of Web channels and tools out there you can use to build up your personal brand.  If the list above looks like gobbledy-gook to you, then let’s try to break it down a little.  Especially if the words above are gobbledy-gook, what you want to focus on are the applications that you can use on the Web.  That’s the first set of words above which are listed with links.

Each application provides a different set of functionality and may be targeted at different audiences.  Facebook and Twitter are in the news all the time, but are they good tools for you to use in building your own personal brand?  How many of these tools could you even manage?  Thinking through these questions is no different than understanding what “traditional” media channels made sense in the old days.  We used to have far fewer choices, and they were typically too expensive for individuals and many small businesses.  Remember radio, billboards, newspapers, brochures, and the like?  The new channels just add to the mix and usually offer far lower-cost entry points, in many cases free.

Here’s a little of my perspective on some of the major players today:

  • Twitter is for really short thoughts.  You can’t go beyond 140 characters in a single tweet.
  • Facebook (and its cousins) allow for very short thoughts (like tweets) to longer form ideas, but usually shorter than blogs.  With Facebook it is also difficult to separate personas.
  • Blogs are great for longer forms, but it’s usually transitive.  Often something you post in your blog will make perfect sense for a while and then be negated or no longer relevant (though this doesn’t have to be the case).
  • Web sites ought to be more permanent: This is who I am and why.  The information behind that statement doesn’t typically change frequently.  Web sites are also good places to plant longer form writing: position papers, book synopses, resumes, etc.
  • Everything else.  Don’t forget about the more traditional mediums; they aren’t irrelevant even with all of these online options.  We’re still reading newspapers (but there’s the GlobeReader) and paper books (but there are Kindles), we watch TV (but there are TiVos), and we listen to the radio (but there are Podcasts and streaming sites).  Traditional media isn’t gone: it’s just moving toward being digital.

Each of these types of Web applications may play a part in building your personal or professional brand on the Web.  A lot of the answers to this for you come from thinking through your online strategy, as I suggested in Part 1.

Next up: Some case studies from my circle; who is using what and why.