Building your online brand is easier now than it’s ever been before. There are not only a myriad of social media sites out there which help you network in real-time to people all over the world but also many sites where you can publish content. There’s even some bleed-over now between social media and content publishing platforms.
When you are thinking about publishing content and about to build your online personal brand hub, there are some things you should keep in mind and be aware of. I’ll be covering two online hub types which can then link to the rest of your content, brand page and website. These are the two options you have when building your online personal brand, and maintaining them regularly will keep you relevant in a rapidly changing job market.
Having a central place where all your content is accessed from is also a great idea, which is where I want to start. This can be a brand page or your website with a custom domain.
Your Online Hub – Brand Page vs Website
There are two major types of pages that can act as a hub for your brand online. The big two are the brand page and a website. I’m going to start with examples of a brand page and then website. I’ll also inject a bit of the benefits and drawbacks you might see from each.
This is probably the most common hub for personal brands online. There are many free providers that you can sign up to get a free brand page from. You’re probably already familiar with LinkedIn which is the most common (and I must say a necessity to have).
There are several other brand pages that have other experiences, though. Unfortunately, many of the experiences are not beneficial to the user of the service (you).
I’ll start with some of the positives:
- Easy to set up.
- Some are universally known (LinkedIn).
- Can have a lot of information about you.
- Your information can be easy to find by others.
With those positives are many negatives, though.
- You don’t own your brand or the content.
- The service has their best interest in mind only.
- You become a product on their branded site.
- Visitors to your brand page are constantly pulled away for the benefit of the service you use.
Here’s an example of why a brand page may not serve you as well as you think it might be:
I have an about.me page that I’ve set up as a brand hub for myself. I have done this because I like to experiment and test out new services. It’s a great place to combine all my information and link to my social media accounts, blogs, etc.
The problem is that I don’t own the content on this service if I do spend a lot of time customizing it. Not only that but anybody who visits my about.me page gets a pop up trying to get them to sign up for the service. This takes the visitor away from my content and creates a distraction.
The purpose of about.me is to get more users and collect their information, not give you a free service. They’re going to take any means necessary to expand their user base, even if it means pulling visitors away from your content.
LinkedIn does the same thing. Have you noticed other profiles have links to other places on LinkedIn’s website? They try to give visitors lots of other things to look at, even if it’s not your content. I see other’s profiles, company pages, advertisements, and the list goes on which are all fighting for my attention.
LinkedIn is almost a necessity though because it’s the new resume/cv. Beyond the use as a résumé/cv, it becomes very limiting though.
This is my favorite option for an online hub, and for good reason. As with the brand pages, there are some pluses and minuses, but in the end, I think the positives far outweighs the negative.
Here are some of the negatives:
- Steeper learning curve to create a website.
- A website has fees associated with it.
- Not part of a “people marketplace”.
And of course, there are many more positives:
- You own your content and brand forever.
- You choose what your user’s experience is like.
- Nobody else vying for user attention.
- Can have a lot of information about you.
- Your content can more easily be found and is more evergreen.
And of course, I could probably continue to go on with the positives. A few of the points do need a bit of explaining, though, specifically the content being evergreen.
I publish my content on my blog and a few weeks after on LinkedIn. While I’m still getting views to my content on my blog years after posting, LinkedIn posts drop their traffic after a few days. Blog posts seem to fall off the edge of LinkedIn after only a week unless it gets picked up as a featured article.
With what I’ve pointed out on each of these online brand hubs, my recommendation is easy to predict. You can take the easy road and use a free service to host your online brand, but do you want to take the chance and not own your brand and let someone else own it?
Some of the free services offer paid options, but even then many of the negatives still remain visible.
The first things you want to ask yourself when deciding where your online personal brand should live are:
- Am I tech savvy enough to build my website or is even Facebook a bit too complex?
- Do I want to invest a minimal amount of money into my brand or should it all be free?
- Does it matter to you if you own your online brand or is it OK if your content is locked into one place? (this may not be a big deal now but it could as you start building your brand)
- Do you just want your name out there or do you want room to grow?
These are some great questions to start with, and they may tell you whether you need to go all the way or just stay simple.
Building a website is not nearly as difficult as it may seem, though, the barriers are lower now than they’ve ever been. I blog on topics that will help you build your personal brand online in the personal brand category of The Online Presence Blog.
Please let me know if you have anything to add to this post and what your preference is in the comments section below!