by Dan Schawbel (MASHABLE)
Dan Schawbel is the bestselling author of Me 2.0: Build a Powerful Brand to Achieve Career Success, owner of the award winning Personal Branding Blog and a columnist for BusinessWeek.
With over 300 million users, no one can deny the power of Facebook (). In fact, 50% of users log in every single day and spend over 6 billion minutes on the platform. What are they doing on it? Depending on the intent of the user, they’re sharing personal stories and updates, staying connected to friends and colleagues, and even building businesses. Many people only use their profile to keep in touch with friends and family, and form a brick wall so no one else can come inside. This strategy won’t help your career, but if you choose, you can also leverage Facebook to build your personal brand.
If you do decide you want Facebook to support your personal brand, then you will have to capitalize on its openness and the ability to grow your network, one friend request at a time. There are three new features that you should pay close attention to, as you tap into the millions of resources presented to you on the service. Each feature — tagging, Pages and widgets, and real-time search — is tied to a specific personal branding strategy.
1. Facebook Tagging for Networking Your Brand
Networking, as you can probably guess, is the key to forging a strong personal brand and developing your career. As you grow older, you will rely more and more on the “assets” in your network, which can range from your father to a coworker to even strangers you may have briefly met and exchanged information with in the past. Facebook tagging, in my opinion, has brought a whole new dimension to networking. The fact that you can use the “@” symbol when you post on your wall and associate a post with your friends’ names, is remarkable, and is exceptionally useful for personal branding.
Let’s say you write a wall post about your weekend plans or a cool blog you’re working on with a few people. You can use the tag feature to have that same wall post appear on their wall, which is great for visibility, appreciation, and for remaining in touch with people. When people comment on that post, whether it’s on your wall or someone else’s, you will be notified through email, so you can continue the conversation and meet new people. That can help you expand your network and stay top of mind with the people already in yours.
2. Facebook Pages and Widgets for Growing Your Brand
Facebook Fan Pages are nothing new, but how you use them and promote them is what really counts. There are thousands of Pages out there, but only the best ones succeed in capturing the attention of Facebook users. You aren’t going to be Vin Diesel or Coca Cola, but you can still make an impact.
Your Page needs a focus and strategy behind it, so first you need to decide what it’s going to be all about. For instance, do you want to use your profile page to build your network to the 5,000 friend limit and then create a Fan Page? Or do you want to keep your profile page for your immediate friends and use the Fan Page to interact with your social media entourage? These are questions you need to answer when building your brand on Facebook.
A Fan Page can contain:
– Event appearances with pictures and videos
– A video introduction or running video blog
– Press features
– Your blog posts via syndication
– Details about your personal and professional achievements
– Delicious () bookmarks that represent your industry
– Pictures of you with celebrities from your industry
– Wall posts, including: a quote of the day, event reminders, blog posts, news, etc.
– Your LinkedIn profile
Once you decide how you want to present yourself on your Facebook Fan Page, what information you want displayed and what widgets you want to use, you should then grow your page to 25 fans as quickly as possible. This will allow you to get a username for your Page, so that your URL will be easier to share, remember, and discover. You should use either your full name (if you haven’t already used it for your Facebook profile) or a positioning statement, such as http://facebook.com/facebookmarketingexpert.
Next, you need to market your Fan Page like it’s your job (because it is!). Here are just a handful of ideas you can use to spread the word about your Page:
– Add a Facebook Fan Page widget to your web site or blog
– Advertise your Facebook Page to targeted employers
– Put your Facebook URL in your email signature, at the end of presentations, and possibly even on your traditional resume
– Write articles and/or blog posts on other sites, leaving your Facebook URL in your bio or byline
– Hold a contest on Twitter (), where you give out free information or products to people who become fans of your Page on Facebook
– Become part of communities in your niche, on a variety of social networks
– Comment on blogs and instead of using your blog URL, use your Facebook address
3. Facebook Real-Time Search for Monitoring Your Brand
At Mashable, we’ve given you ten free and ten paid reputation management tools, to monitor your personal brand (they also work for company and product brands). But that was all before Facebook released its real-time search engine, which replaced their legacy search engine.
The new search engine identifies results, for each keyword entered, in conversations that are happening with your friends and the outside world. It also searches Fan Pages, groups, applications, events, people, and web results — so you can say it’s truly an end-to-end solution. Aside from using tools such as Twitter Search () or Google Alerts to keep track of personal brand mentions, you should occasionally (depending on your popularity) perform a search in Facebook to see what people are saying, both inside your network and outside.
But what should you do when you’re being talked about?
– For a brand mention by someone in your network: If people are saying something positive, then you should “like” the conversation and possibly leave a comment, such as, “Thank you for the mention,” or a value-add comment such as, “I would like to add _______,” or, “What do you think of _____?”
– For a brand mention by someone outside of your network: You should friend them, because they gave you the opening, and then send them a nice note through Facebook mail thanking them for the mention.
Facebook’s new features present many opportunities for building your personal brand. The tagging feature is a great tool for professional networking, while Facebook Pages allow you to extend your brand and grow it virally. The search functionality is another data point that you can use to keep track of what people are saying about you. There’s no doubt that Facebook is here to stay, so if you start using these features now, you’ll be prepared to be more successful in the future.