Top 10 Ways for Creating an Effective Online Brand


If you’re not actively branding your business, you are wasting golden opportunities to strengthen your online position in your niche.

Creating a uniform goal and plan can help you  make sure all your branding efforts are on target.  Then incorporate the following top ten ways for create an effective online brand.

1.  Identify Your Brand Clearly

Make it easy for people to see at a glance what you and your business are all about the moment they arrive at your web page, read your email or newsletter, pick up your business card or check out your social media pages and posts.

Show (don’t just tell) people:

  • What you do
  • Who you are
  • How you can help or even just entertain them

Letting people know what they can expect from you and your business and what they can trust you to deliver, as celebrity Jackie Chan demonstrates here,  is what branding is all about.



2.  Pay Attention to Voice

2-voiceOne other aspect of your business needs to be clear and distinctive: Your voice.

“Voice” is the personality you project across all your websites, social media and other forms of contact.

Your voice can be any type you want it to be…  But it should fit your mission and your target market consistently, like a favorite pair of slippers.  It should be reflected in everything from website colors to the music clips you use with your videos.

Individuality is another important part of creating a consistent voice.  You want to show that you can take a secure place among your competitors – but also stand out.

People should feel they know you, when they see your communications and materials.


3.  Know When to Use Professionals

Using the right help at the right time will actually increase your branding.

Trying to do it all yourself leads to overload and overwhelm; and that leads to losing track of your business as an entity and brand because you’re too close and too busy being reactive.

Become a true CEO, instead of your own eternal employee.  Plan for support that will leave you free to focus on customers, clients – and your branding.  Then decide:

  • What type of help you need
  • Who you are going to choose to provide that help

Check into potential candidates. See if they have package rates (many contractors do).


 This will leave you free to focus on only the essentials of growing your business, allowing you to maintain a focused overview, as well as network and serve your customers and clients to the best of your ability.

And focus is what strong, successful branding is all about.


4.  Manage your Online Reputation

One negative comment – deserved or not – can really affect your online reputation.  Check comments and feedback regularly to see what people are saying about you.

One easy way to do this: Set up a Google Alert for your name and your business name (if the two are different).

You can set your Google alerts up so that they are highly reactive, if there’s a particular situation you want to monitor, or barely intrusive – simply by setting the frequency at which the results are delivered to your email address (text or HTML).


You can choose to receive alerts:

  • As it happens
  • Once a day
  • Once a week

You can also export your alerts to your hard drive.

But managing your online reputation doesn’t just mean monitoring what’s said:  It’s really all about giving people no reason to badmouth you in the first place!

  • Keep in touch with clients and update them if there are hitches or problems.
  • Process payments and refunds promptly and cheerfully.
  • Thank people who do you favors or submit work.

Reputation management is all about giving people reason to praise you and your business.

(And don’t do anything on your social networks that’s at odds with your branding and voice!)


5.  Tell Your Brand’s Story

Use your online footprints to tell your brand’s story.  Doing this well means knowing:

  • Where you’ve been
  • Your mission
  • Where you are heading

Your “About” Page is a good place to provide a brief history of your business:  What inspired it, how old it is, what it looked like at inception and how it has been serving its clientele.

Sending out regular newsletters and press releases, posting articles to your blog and sharing photos with social networks continues your story.  But even as you do share your history and story, make sure it’s really all about your customer or client (as Eugene Saturday Market expertly does here on its Facebook Page)


Even though everything you present should be geared towards your end client or customer, they will connect better if they can also relate – and see that you do too.


6.  Be Consistently Active and Actively Consistent

The word “consistent” is the real key to branding.

Interact regularly and consistently:

  • Across all your social platforms
  • In the type of material you share
  • With your unique voice
  • In all your content
    • business pages
    • buttons
    • flyers
    • prizes
    • surveys
    • emails
    • newsletters

And  every piece of content you put out (e.g. Burt’s Bees).


7.  Use Templates

This simple tip is one that, when put to work, can help you easily create a cohesive feel to all your marketing venues.  You can create:

  • Email templates featuring your colors, logo, headshot and signature
  • Flyer templates
  • HTML templates for your newsletter
  • HTML templates for your landing and sales pages
  • MS Word templates for business correspondence

And for anything else you re-use frequently.

With a template, you don’t have go through your content, second-guessing things like what your exact shade of sub-head red was.  Templates saves time as well as helping you instantly brand your business without effort.



8. Go Visual

What were two of the hottest trends in 2012?

Pinterest and Instagram.

If your business doesn’t have a Profile created with each of these two graphic-based social networks, you’re missing a great opportunity to connect with your market.

Once you’ve created a Pinterest for Business account (it’s free), be sure to create more than one Pinboard.  (Read site instructions – which are simple – and look at examples; especially your competitors’, if they’ve been more socially-savvy than you.)

Make sure you create an overall plan for your Pinboards.  And that each one:

  • Is interesting and visually dramatic
  • Triggers emotion, whenever possible
  • Reflects your brand consistently

Put a “Pin it” button on your site, and activelyask customers to pin your photos.  (The Pin it button such as Split Coast Stampers displays makes it as easy as one click for them to do so.)


Make sure you have yummy visual content for them to pin. But don’t stop there, however:  Re-pin customer content that fits your brand onto your boards.

Use Instagram to capture photo opportunities and share them.

Finally carry this through to YouTube videos.  Create your own channel and brand it with:

  • Your logo
  • Your colors
  • Your graphics

Then create lively videos to regularly share with customers.


9.  Go Mobile

What was the hottest trend in 2011?

Mobile marketing.

2011 saw the introduction of QR codes to the Western world.  Now you see them everywhere – even on sandwich boards outside your local grocery store, making it easy for you to use the QR code to enter their survey.

When customers use your QR code, reward them with coupons, discounts, or even just great photographs they can share.

Go one step further in using your QR codes to help brand your business:  Don’t just use a plain, generated QR code:  Have a custom QR code designed containing or incorporating graphics such as your logo – one that makes people instantly think of your business.

(If you can’t yet afford a designer who specializes in QR codes, do it yourself with generators such as Unitag that allow you to incorporate your own graphics into your QR code in a variety of styles.)


 10.  Optimize Your Signature

Don’t miss the opportunity to make the most of your signature.  Include anchor text to your blog or website, as well as your tagline.


Make sure your signature is as consistent as possible, everywhere you use it – forums, flyers, membership sites and in your emails and colors.

Think of your signature as yet another handy branding tool.


Although these pointers include the most basic elements of branding, you’ll find they are still the top ten ways to create your most effective online brand. Get into the habit putting them to work – and watch your branding results soar.

Klout Guide – How to Increase Your Online Influence


Klout is an online social influence measurement tool. Using Klout, you can get a rough sense for how powerful someone’s social media influence is, as well as to some extent their real world influence. Klout supports all major social networks, including Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+.

Klout crawls your popularity whether you want it to or not. However, by signing up for Klout, you can make sure it links all your social media accounts and knows what your interests are so it can more accurately measure and publish your influence.

Why Your Klout Score Matters

1-Klout-InviteWhy does Klout score even matter? Does it actually affect you in any material way?

The answer is yes.

Klout is often used as a discovery tool. If someone is looking for an expert in a certain field, they might hop online and look for someone with a high Klout score in that arena. That could mean speaking gigs, business deals, invitation to events and so on.

Here’s an example of where Klout has intermingled with real life, as reported by The Next Web.

More importantly, people often use Klout to research people they’re considering working with. For example, if you reach out to a potential joint venture partner, they might look you up on Klout to see if you’re a credible person.

Klout isn’t just an online popularity contest. It’s a versatile research tool that other people use to make real decisions about working with you.

How Are Klout Scores Measured?

Klout scores are based on a 90 day running average. The algorithm is highly complex and proprietary, though you can read a reverse engineered version of the algorithm here.


Primarily, Klout looks at:

  • Facebook likes
  • Number of comments your Facebook posts get
  • Mentions of you on Facebook
  • Shares of your posts on Facebook
  • Twitter retweets
  • Twitter followers
  • Twitter @mentions
  • Google+ +1s
  • Google+ reshares
  • LinkedIn Connections
  • LinkedIn recommenders

In short, they take into account a number of different social media signals and combine them all into one Klout score.

Klout not only measures these factors in absolutes, but also assigned different weight to different likes and retweets. For instance, a retweet from a well known celebrity is going to weigh more than a random person. Likewise, a retweet from someone who doesn’t retweet often is going to be worth more than a retweet from someone who retweets something a couple dozen times a day.


Adding in Real World Influence

Klout also has a mechanism for tracking your real world influence. This came about after Klout came under fire for ranking numerous bloggers as more influential than Barack Obama. Since bloggers were highly active on the social sphere, many of them did receive more tweets and likes than the President of the United States. However, by most anyone’s standards, the President has more influence than just about any blogger.

Because of this controversy, Klout implemented a Wikipedia scanning mechanism that allows Klout to gauge the importance of a person’s Wikipedia article. The more important their Wikipedia article, the more important that person is in real life.

With this added change, the President now ranks as the most influential person on Klout.


Sorting by Topics

One of the most important features in Klout is its ability to sort influencers by topics. After all, you rarely need to know who the most influential people in the world are. But it can make a big difference to figure out who the most influential people in your space are.

You can use this section to find potential business partners, potential speakers and people who you want to aspire to built connections with.


Are you on Klout yet? If not, now might be the time to take a look at your Klout profile, check out your Klout score and look for ways to give your profile a boost.

Getting Started with Klout

Signing up for Klout is a very streamlined process. It’s clear that Klout’s creators put a lot of attention into making sure there are no unnecessary steps in the Klout signup process. Because Klout is a social network based service, you sign up (and sign in) with Klout through an existing social network profile. There is no option to sign up via email.

Then you just give Klout a little bit of information to help them rank you and make you more discoverable. Here’s a step by step walkthrough of the Klout setup process.

Step 1: Choose Twitter or Facebook

Start by choosing whether you want to connect your Klout account with your Twitter profile or your Facebook profile.


Step 2: Authorize

Authorize whichever account you chose to access your personal data.


Step 3: Invite Friends

Invite your friends if you want, or leave this step for later!
3 - Invite Friends

Step 4: Choose Topics You’re Influential About

Klout with give you a list of topics they think you might be influential about. If you hover your mouse over any of those topics, the “Add” button will appear. Click the “Add” button to add the topic.


Step 5: Connect More Accounts

If you have more social media accounts, you can connect them in this step. Just click “Connect” next to each account you want to connect, then click “Continue” once you’re finished.


You’ll have to grant access to each network that you want to use.


Step 6: Changing Your Description

Your description appears directly under your name, picture and Klout score in your profile. If you’re connected to a Twitter account, the description will be pulled from your Twitter description. If you’re connected to a Facebook account, this will be blank by default.


To change your description, go to “Settings” in the upper right corner.


Then fill out the “About” field.


That’s all there is to it! Your Klout profile is setup and ready to go. You’ve got your accounts, your topics and your profile all setup.

Understanding Your Klout Score and Profile

At first glance, Klout can be a little overwhelming. There’s data everywhere, different kinds of feeds, different people and different categories. How do you make sense of all the data available to you?

Here’s everything you need to know about making sense of your Klout profile.

Step 1: Your Klout Dashboard

The first screen you see when you log in is your Klout dashboard. This dashboard has your Klout score, links to your social media profiles and your latest social media interactions all in a feed. Your dashboard is visible only to you and not the public.


Step 2: Your Score History

To learn more about your Klout score, just take a look at the right side of the screen.
The first choice is the “90-Day Score History” where you’ll see your score changes. This is a great indicator of whether your influence is increasing or decreasing.

The second choice is “Network Breakdown” where you can see what percentage of your influence comes from your different social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, etc).


Under that you have a more specific breakdown of your stats, your “Score Activity”.


Step 3: Add Topics

Adding topics you’re influential about allows Klout to rank you in those topics. If you don’t add yourself, even if you’re an expert in that topic, you’re not going to get the benefit of being ranked in Klout’s top influencer lists for that topic.
You can manually choose which topics you want to add by going to “See More” in your profile, then clicking “Manage your Topics” and then If you want, “Add a Topic.”




Step 4: Understanding Klout Profiles

A Klout profile consists of a few main parts. First, you have their name and “About” section. This gives you their Klout score, links to other social media profiles and a short blurb about them.



Then, you have the person’s “moments.” These are the social media updates posted by that person that got the most activity over the last 90 days.


To check out who your (or anyone else’s) top influencers are, just look to the left sidebar. Your top influencers will be sorted by Klout score.


Step 5: Perks

Perks are special benefits given to people with certain Klout scores. For example, a mobile phone company might give free phones to people with Klout scores above 85 in hopes that they might blog or tweet about the phone.

To access the perks that you qualify for, click “Perks” on the top right menu.


Browse the various perks that you qualify for. If you find a perk you’d like to claim, just click “Claim This Perk!”


Step 6: Friends and Lists

To see your friends’ Klout score, click “Friends” from the upper left menu.


You can sort your friends by alphabetical order or by Klout score by clicking the respective sorting options along the top. You can choose to view your Facebook OR Twitter friends!


Step 7: Lists

Lists make it easy for you to divide your friends into different categories. For example, you can sort your business friends from your hiking friends from your favorite bloggers. This makes it easy for you to track Klout scores and Klout profiles for all the different kinds of people in your life.

To create a new list, click “Create a New List” on the left hand side of your “Friends” page.

On the left, add the people you want on the list to your list. On the right, give your list a name and a description.

Once you’ve saved your lists, you can come back anytime and just click on one of your lists on the left to see everyone who’s in that list.


These are the most important features Klout has to offer. You now know how to see all your posts, your most influential posts, to see how your Klout score was broken down as well as your growth over time, how to use perks and how to sort your friends.


Top 10 Tips for Improving Your Klout Score

There’s a lot you can do to deliberately improve your Klout score. After all, Klout is an influence measuring tool – But it is based primarily on online factors. If you can change those online factors, your Klout score will rise accordingly.

It’s important to keep in mind that your Klout score is a 90 day running average. That means that even if you execute all these tips perfectly, it’s going to take some time before your score reflects your new level of online activity. Treat it more like a marathon and less like a sprint.

Tip #1 – Create Content People Want to Share

There are a lot of tactics you can use to boost your influence. But at the end of the day, your influence depends on whether or not people want to share your content. The best way to make people want to share your content is to create content that’s worthy of sharing in the first place.

Spend more time on your content than on your marketing. Great content gets shared naturally, while poor content is hard to get shares even with great marketing.


Tip #2 – Start a Controversial Discussion

Klout doesn’t actually measure how much people like you or how much they measure your content. They measure activity. The more people commenting, sharing, liking, retweeting or @mentioning you, the higher your Klout score is going to be.

One great way to boost your Klout score then is to have very controversial discussions. This will get a lot of people talking to you and about you, which in Klout’s book is the same thing as credibility.


Tip #3 – Use Social Media as Your Community Hub

A lot of people try to create their own community hub by starting a new forum on their website. This can be incredibly difficult, as forums are notoriously difficult to populate.

On the other hand, making a Facebook group or a specific Twitter hashtag for your audience is a fantastic way to build a community. You don’t need a ton of posters to make it seem active. In fact, just a couple posts a day is enough to make it seem like an active community.

Best of all, all that activity on your social media profile is going to help give your Klout profile a strong boost.


Tip #4 – Use Social Media to Launch Big News

Launching a contest? Announce it by social media instead of email. Launching a new video? Tell people about it on social media first. New product launch? Again, use social media to get people excited and to tell them about the news.

People love talking about things that are new. There’s going to be more energy around your product when you launch it than at any other point in its lifecycle. There’s going to be more energy around a video launch than it’ll ever have at a later time.

Leverage this energy by getting people to talk about it on social media. That’ll help give your Klout score a nice big boost.


Tip #5: Jump In On Popular Hashtags

When you’re participating in popular hashtag conversions, people are much more likely to @reply you and retweet you. These are two things that Klout looks at a lot to determine Klout score.

Use various hashtracking websites to find these trending hashtags and comment on them. Popular sites include “What The Trend” and


Tip #6: Link All Your Social Networks

By default, Klout can only track your main social network. If you don’t link your social network, Klout won’t be able to see how much influence you actually have. Naturally, the more networks you link, the higher your perceived influence.

Link all your social networks, even if you don’t ever really use those networks. That’s right – Link up accounts even if you have few friends and never update them. After all, you can just remove your accounts again if it lowers your score. More often than not however, it’ll give your score a nice boost.


Tip #7: Ask Your Audience Questions

Again, the goal is to deliberately facilitate as much activity on your social media feeds as possible. One easy and natural way to facilitate that discussion is to ask your audience questions.

Ask questions that people would want to share their opinions about. Give your audience a chance to brag about their ideas. Ask provocative questions, or questions that people would have strong opinions about.


Tip #8: Do @Mentions Often

When you @mention someone, they’re more likely to see your message and respond back with an @mention. Furthermore, when you @mention someone, they see your name and remember you. They’re more likely to follow you, as well as more likely to recognize you in their Twitter feed.

Using @mentions helps you stand out from all the chatter. It’s not going to immediately boost your Klout score; instead it’ll help you garner more and more attention on the social web. In time, this could make a big difference.


Tip #9: Connect With Influencers

Connecting with influencers can help boost your Klout score in several ways. First, if an influencer @mentions you in public, that means more people are going to find your feed. More people will follow you, retweet you and get in conversations with you. That means a higher Klout score.

Second, Klout treats different people’s retweets and @mentions with different weight. A highly influential person bears a lot more weight than a person with low influence. If you engage in the social sphere with an influential person, you’re going to get a higher Klout score just from that.


Tip #10: Build a Name for Yourself Through Multiple Media

The internet isn’t the only place to build your Klout score. In fact, many of the highest Klout score rankers don’t even pay much attention to their social media. Instead, they’re focused on building real world influence.

Focus on expanding your reach not just online, but through every other kind of medium possible. Try to get on radio. Launch your own podcast. Do videos and build a YouTube channel. Speak in public.

Anything you do that raises your public profile will also raise your Klout score.


These are ten ways to increase your Klout score. Some of these tactics focus on deliberately increasing social engagement, while others focus on actually expanding your reach. Both methods will help give your Klout score the boost you’re looking for.


Top 10 Social Media Tools

social_mediaThe number of social integration tools available is vast and getting bigger every day. It seems every other month a new “big” social media tool comes out. Most of the time the tools don’t make that much of an impact. Those that do however can truly help you save a lot of time and resources.

There are social media tools for just about everything: Posting updates, generating reports, finding people to follow, save time, manage teams, get email reports and so on.

Which tools should you use? Here are ten of the top social media integration tools for you to choose from.

Tool #1: Hootsuite

Hootsuite can almost go without explanation. It’s the largest social media integration tool on the web and provides a whole host of technologies and solutions completely free of charge. A lot of things Hootsuite offers for free are paid features of other integration tools.

Hootsuite allows you to manage feeds across multiple social media sites. They have analytics and reporting tools, albeit most of them are paid. You can integrate a team strategy, as well as analyze you contacts.

If you’re not sure where to start in social media integration, Hootsuite is a good bet.


Tool #2: Tweet Deck (by Twitter)

Tweet Deck is one of the largest social media integration tools on the web and the largest integration tool for the Twittersphere. In 2009, they had a 23% marketshare. The only other website that had a larger usage rate was itself.

The primary function of Tweet Deck is the social media dashboard. They feature an intuitive and easy to use dashboard that works with both Twitter and Facebook. In the past, they supported LinkedIn, MySpace and FourSquare, though they have since dropped support for those sites and chosen to focus exclusively on Twitter and Facebook.

Tweet Deck was purchased by twitter in May of 2011. It’s now run by the Twitter team.

You can run Tweet Deck on just about any operating system, including Mac OS, Windows, Linux, iOS (iPhone / iPad) and even Google’s tentative Chrome OS.


Tool #3: Sprout Social

Sprout Social is a social media integration tool that has some very interesting and unique features. For example, Sprout Social will log into your Twitter and Facebook analytics accounts for you and extract data about your demographics. This will give you a very good sense of who your audience is, all in one place.

Sprout Social can also make recommendations about new people to follow. If you don’t want to have to spend hours discovering new potential partners and sources of information, let Sprout Social do it for you.

Of course, Sprout Social also has all the standard features, like message scheduling and feed aggregation.


Tool #4: Social Oomph

Social Oomph is a bit of an anomaly in the world of social media integration tools. Unlike tools like Tweet Deck or Hootsuite that have a very slick Web 2.0 kind of design, Social Oomph is very minimalistic. Their design is simple, text-based and to the point.

Don’t let that fool you however. Social Oomph has a lot of very powerful features and is very up to date, despite the basic looking design.

Social Oomph has perhaps the most advanced automated friend finder on the planet. This was how the service was first built; it’s what gave it its reputation to begin with.

Social Oomph also gives you the ability to delete all your tweets with the click of a button, but not delete your followers. In other words, if you want to start from scratch, Social Oomph lets you do that.

The list of unique features Social Oomph offers is quite long. It’s important to note that some of them do require a paid subscription. All Facebook interactions require a subscription, though if you’re just using Twitter there’s a lot that you can do for free.


Tool #5: Nutshell Mail

Nutshell Mail solves one of the big problems with social media: It takes a lot of time to monitor. If you’re a full time staff member dedicated to social media management, that’s not a problem. However, if you’re a business businessperson with a lot on your plate, then chances are you don’t have the time or energy to log into your social media account all throughout the day.

Nutshell mail simplifies this by sending you email updates. You can receive updates on your social media activities directly in your inbox, so you never have to worry about logging in and checking up on your profiles.

Nutshell mail supports LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, FourSquare and Yelp.


Tool #6: Netvibes

Netvibes is a social media integration platform that has a suite of free features, as well as a host of paid features. Their basic features work a lot like most other integration platforms, but their paid features have a lot of unique functionality to offer.

Netvibes integrates online reputation monitoring into their social media tools. You can see what people are saying about you, your company and your brand all in one screen.

You can create product micro-sites using Netvibes. This makes it easy for people to interact with a new product launch.

You can also create online communities using Netvibes and give people a unique home page.

Netvibes is essentially a social media integration tool as well as a community and brand building tool all wrapped up into one neat package.


Tool #7: Yoono

Yoono’s unique position in the market is its breadth. Not only does Yoono cover media that many tools ignore, such as FourSquare or FriendFeed, but Yoono also incorporates instant messengers in its arsenal.

That’s right: With Yoono, you can sync up your AIM, Google Talk and Yahoo Messenger accounts all in one place.

Of course, you can also use it to manage your Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts. You can manage multiple feeds across different accounts and do everything you’d expect from a social media management tool.

If you’re only managing Twitter or Facebook, then you’ll probably want to stick with one of the tools mentioned earlier. However, if you manage a range of other networks as well and especially if you use instant messengers to communicate, then Yoono could be a great time saver.


Tool #8: Postling

Postling makes monitoring your social networks and posting to them a cinch. Postling gives you a simple and easy to use “social inbox” where everything people say about you is contained. You can easily respond to each of their comments from a variety of social networks all in one feed.

Postling also monitors review websites, like Yelp or Citysearch for you. If you’re an offline business, this is critically important. Just about no other social media integration tool will monitor these services for you.

With Postling, you can post directly to your blog while keeping your social media in the look. Postling has its own WYSIWYG editor built in for writing blog posts.

You can respond to messages and tweets all by email using Postling’s “reply by email” feature. You can also get a daily email about all the new activities that occurred across your various social media accounts.

Postling offers a lot of unique features. They’re especially powerful if you run an offline business and need to monitory reviews.


Tool #9: Cadence9

For those dealing with multiple accounts and brands, Cadence9 is a social marketing automation software that allows to automate your social media and content marketing team workflow and content posting. It allows to have multiple users, assign tasks and track followers engagement.


Tool #10: Widgets

One of the best ways to integrate your social media into your blog or website is through widgets. Widgets are little bits of code you can install that add social media functionality to an otherwise static page.

By using widgets, you can take feeds from your Twitter account or your Facebook account and put them all on your website.

People will be able to see all your recent posts, as well as posts on your feed, depending on how your feed is setup.


Remember that integration goes both ways – You want to integrate your social media profile, but you also want to integrate your blog.

These are the most powerful social media integration tools available at your disposal. Using these tools, you’ll be able to manage your social media quickly, integrate your social media profiles, post quickly, manage your reputation, build communities and more.