Facebook, applications

Editor’s Note : Lydia Neo is the co-founder and Director (Business Development) of Helios Media Design Pte Ltd, a leading Singapore based design solutions firm, with a special focus of combining creative thinking, with your business objectives. She licenses her articles exclusively to The Tech Portal.

When it comes to online personal or business branding, the creation of social media profiles is absolutely essential. Whether you are simply trying to get more exposure online, or connect with your fans and customers, social networking profiles are the way to go as they will rank highly in search engine results when people search for your name.

Think of each social media profile that you own as a first encounter that someone is going to have with your brand, and you will want that first impression to be impactful and make the visitor want to know more about you.

Let’s look at 5 key points that you can follow to create a successful social media profile:

#1 Tell Them Your Name

It seems obvious, but if you’re trying to rank in for search results on Google, being shy about your name/identity won’t take you very far. In fact, search engines take title tags seriously and it would be wasting a useful spot for yourself and your business if you do not leverage on hash-tagging opportunities on various social media platforms; examples such as #LydiaNeo #HeliosMediaDesign #HMD all work pretty well.

Most people might think that the name that usually shows up in the URL (such as http://twitter.com/lydia_neo) was extremely important in getting your profile to rank in search results.

However, I found that unlike usual website SEO that says that the URL counts in ranking, the real ranking for social media profiles happens with your name. So be sure to enter the name you want to be found under.

#2 Show Them Your (Pretty) Face

To all the guilty “silhouette ghosts” out there: No it’s not cool to not show your face and it is neither sexy nor mysterious.

I simply cannot stress enough that building trust with your audience starts with giving them an idea of who you are and what you look like. No one is asking for a pageantry photo but a professional-looking profile picture that has been optimized according to the social media platform’s requirement is essential.

Some social profiles automatically rename and resize your image (Twitter does) but it’s useful to remember this step as you construct other social profiles and web properties.

  1. First, name your image appropriately. Probably your name or your brand name, but remember to separate the words with an under-score.
  2. Optimize your image’s size. As Google cares more and more about load speed as a SEO factor, it is critical to upload images that are appropriately sized. You’ll only be dealing with a handful of pixels here in the Twitter profile picture, so a high definition picture would be a waste of space and load time.

There is great debate when it comes to profile photos / avatars on social networks in terms of whether you should go with your brand logo or the face of a person.

My suggestion is that if you are a well-known brand or business with a well-recognized logo, by all means go with the logo. If you’re building a personal brand or you are a public figure like a blogger, politician, musician, artist, etc., go with the personal picture. People are more likely to want to engage with a person than a brand logo.

Once you have selected your default photo, be sure to stick with the same picture as your default photo from one network to the next, that way people easily recognize you across all social networks. Another thing that helps in SEO value is naming your photo file appropriately before uploading it.Be sure you have named it yourname.jpg or yourbusiness.jpg as opposed to uploading IMG0226.jpg.

This might have some value, especially in image searches, which can be particularly important now that Google has incorporated the first few image search results in their main page of search results, as shown above. If someone searches you by name, you will want your image to come up, not someone else’s.

#3 Use An Appropriate/Relevant User Name

So where does the username come into play? Some people who can’t find your social media links may just assume it is something obvious and type it in directly. Think about what people would search you under, and make sure that is your username that is included in the URL.

Sites that encourage you to use a real name, particularly Facebook and LinkedIn, are the sites where potential customers/business partners/employers are likely to look for you. You’ll want to present a professional image on these sites. Some people try to get creative on these to make it hard for people to find them, but more often than not the wrong people find them and the right people do not, so stick to your real name.

There are some sites that allow users to enter anything as a username, however ultimately you would want your friends, business contacts and family to easily find you online. By using your real name, you simplify their search for you and ensure that they find truthful and positive information about you – or a way to get in touch.

Keywords aren’t what they used to be but search engines still look to the URL as a sign of what the online property is all about. If I want my Twitter profile to rank well for my name, it’s wise to have my name in the URL. That means making my username my full name.

If you are not sure if your username is taken, try using KnowEm’s free tool to check your desired username across hundreds of social platforms.

#4 Your Bio Says A LOT About You

Your main social profile’s bio is usually just a sentence or two about yourself or your business. Think of it as a perfect place to put your elevator pitch and include your main keywords. I don’t mean in a salesy way, but just if someone were to ask you to tell them briefly what you or your business is about, what would you say?

Always fill out your bio to its full potential. While some networks allow you to only have a limited amount of characters, others encourage more robust and lengthy bios such as LinkedIn. Take advantage of this to share only the best about yourself and your brand.

The constraints of social media are a blessing in disguise; forcing yourself to be brief can allow for even greater creativity. Use this as your chance to say something new and avoid overused buzzwords. Feel free to brag a little about yourself or your company and tell others what you’ve done rather than describe how you’d like to be perceived. Especially in the case of a business, highlight your accomplishments by specifically showcasing the projects that you have done or notable partners that you are working with.

A call to action is a way for you to entice your social media audience to focus their attention on the next action you want them to take and it should encourage readers to engage with you further.

Consider making your readers an offer that they want which in this case can vary based on your business and where the prospect is in the sales process. You can offer white paper downloads, ebooks, ongoing emails, discount coupons and/or free consultations. Do keep in mind though that this does not mean asking prospects to purchase as they’re still in an information-gathering mode.

Another good idea for adding links is to create a social network specific landing page (on your home page) so you can track which social media profiles are bringing your website the most traffic. You can use these pages to offer a special discount for people who have found you on Twitter, or share information that is specific to a network, like recent blog posts you have written about Facebook.

Optimizing a social media profile is easy, and it doesn’t take much time to do. Play around with these recommendations, and feel free to leave comments with any additional suggestions for how to optimize your profiles.

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