Your Personal Brand is becoming more and more critical as online social networks and Social Media, in general, become pervasive. Not a day goes by that someone, somewhere, is not checking out who you are, what you're about, and whether or not they are willing to invest (or divest) in you. That investment could be regarding anything: personal, business, community or all of the above.
As our Digital Selves and the Personal Brand it represents begins to overshadow (in terms of mass awareness) our real life Personal Brands, I thought it might be valuable to list out how I do my own Personal Brand Audit in the online world.
1. The Twist Image Blog - I do my best to answer and update all comments. If someone has taken the time to post a comment, I want to make sure I am doing my best to respond or acknowledge it.
2. Website Stats - I check the statistics for the Twist Image corporate Website and this Twist Image Blog. The main areas I'm looking at are how many unique visitors we're getting, what links brought them to the community, and which keywords triggered people to check out what we're about. I also use this area to see how many time iTunes came by, and how many times there was a request for a MP3 file. I do this because I can better gauge the traffic for Six Pixels Of Separation - The Twist Image Podcast.
3. Technorati - I do some basic searches (which I've aggregated in a simple Watchlist - of which I also have a RSS feed for) on keywords like: "mitch joel", "twist image", "six pixels", etc_ From there, I tend to comment on postings with mentions. I also like checking out how the Twist Image Blog ranks overall (currently at 7,930) and the Authority (460) provided by Technorati.
4. Facebook - I have a three-step process for Facebook that seems to work fine. First, I check to see all Friend and Group Requests. Second, I review the Groups I Admin (Six Pixels Of Separation Podcast Society, Business And Motivational Book Review - Foreword Thinking, and Canadian Music Industry Alumni). Lastly, I do a quick scan on my public profile to see if there are any new updates. Mostly, I'm looking for growth (how many new people have a joined a group or how closely I've linked to people of importance to me). Facebook has grown so quickly, in terms of building my Personal Brand, that it is shocking. I'm not sure Facebook would have even made the list four months ago.
5. LinkedIn - I try to do a general walkthrough. I'm basically looking to see if anyone of my Connections has changed titles, added more connections, etc_ I think LinkedIn is the dark horse of online social networks for professionals. It is amazing, and with some simple tweaks, I think it could easily become the leader.
6. Google - I do a quick search on my main keywords ("mitch joel", "twist image", "six pixels", etc_). I'm just looking to see how many results these keywords pulls. As the month progress, if I am doing my job, that number should increase. This is my barometer for depth. How deep has my Personal Brand penetrated the online space?
7. Google News Alerts - This is a constant effort. I have signed up for all of my major keywords (see #6) and I am constantly monitoring where (and in what context) my Personal Brand is being mentioned. I love Google News Alerts and I'm shocked when I see others who don't leverage it to better understand their Personal Brand.
8. Advertising Ad - Power 150 - while I am not huge on how they calculate the rankings, I am beginning to see more and more people who are paying attention to this list.
That's pretty much it in terms of understanding the reach of your Personal Brand online. For the record, I go through this exact process for all of the Twist Image clients as well. What's good for the Personal Brand is also amazing for the brands we work with.
It may seem like an exhaustive list, but my Personal Brand Audit takes only a few simple minutes. My guess is that if you don't have a Blog, Podcast or Facebook Groups to Admin, that you can probably do a Personal Brand audit in a flash.
It's not all about vanity. I can't lie, there is a vanity component to this (it's nice to know that people are talking about you), but the main point here is to stay focused on whether or not what your Personal Brand "is" is properly being maintained in the online channel. It's not a question of defending against those who think differently, it's a Personal Brand Audit to ensure that who you really are is coming through - loud and clear - in the online channel where individuals do have equal stage with multi-national corporations.
If you have any additional channels that you use to better understand your Personal Brand, I would love to see them shared with this community.