Using the Web to build your brand is less and less about creating destinations, and more and more about creating content useful to the people you want to reach, then empowering them to access that content wherever and however they like.
The key to this is creating something we call a “Content Hub.” A content hub is more than just a standalone site or application, it’s both the heart of a distributed network of information, and a destination for those that share the interest it supports.
Rather than explain the theory of a content hub in detail, it’s best to just build a quick-and-dirty one, and use it. Here’s the process I’d recommend to do exactly that:
- If you don’t have a GMail account, create one, say email@example.com. You’ll need this e-mail for all the logins, might as well use the same one.
- Associate your logo with that e-mail in Gravatar.com, this will also come in handy later.
- Create a YouTube account associated with the same Google ID.
- Create a Flickr account. You may need a Yahoo e-mail account for this, just create one.
- Create a Twitter account, and customize the profile page to reflect your brand identity. Add an image, and a short bio line, for God’s sake.
- Create a Facebook Page. You can do this from your personal Facebook account, if you don;t have one you’ll need to create one.
- Create a Posterous account, and activate the Group Profile feature to make it easier for others to post to the account. Connect your YouTube, Flickr, and Facebook Pages to Posterous so that any content you send to Posterous bounces into the other accounts automagically.
- Create a simple listening station in Google Reader. You’ll have access to Google Reader automatically having set up the GMail account above. Lot’s of smart people have described how to do this, just do what they say. Once you get the basics down you’ll be able to pull any RSS feed into Reader, which I promise will come in handy at some point.
- Click the Reader “Settings” at upper right, then the rightmost tab which is “Send To.” Configure Reader to send content to the destination sites you created above.
- Use the damn thing.
The “hub” of the system is your new GMail account. If you log into that each morning you’ll have access to everything you need. To distribute original content through the system, just use the Posterous account. This is dirt simple straightforward… You can post everywhere by sending e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org from your GMail address. Send images and they’ll go to Flickr as well. Send video and they’ll post to YouTube automatically, etc. Links to everything you create will will appear on your new Posterous blog, and go out to your Twitter followers and Facebook fans, automatically.
“Curating” content is even easier. Whatever is in Reader can be sent through the system by clicking the “Send To” button. When you do that a drop-down appears with Twitter, Facebook, and Posterous as options (remember, choosing “Posterous” sends it everywhere). Begin to poke around in the local blogs and start raising your visibility. Leave short comments on others blogs to draw traffic to your own, and create the personal connection you need to deliver on the brand promise (Gravatar is already set up if you followed the above, so wherever you log in to comment on someone else’s blog and use your GMail address, your icon will also appear and give you some exposure.)
You can also access your brand “listening station” in Google Reader. Just click “Reader” at the upper left of Gmail, and you’ll pretty much be able monitor any appearance of the brand online. You should add some influential local Bloggers to the feeds there as well, and create folders for whatever else you like to read on the web.
So what happens now?
Start posting. Share the content you find interesting in Reader. Build some relationships. Get to know folks. Help people, and watch them help you back. If you need something more industrial strength, please give us a call. But for 90% of the businesses out there, the truth is this is enough to get started building the relationships that will help build your business.
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