[flickr style="float: right"]photo:2052055757[/flickr]September 14, 2007 — yes, just a year ago this week — was the date of the first blog post on Social Media Explorer. At that point, very few people in the social media world knew who Jason Falls was. My grand idea for a public relations blog fizzled but my passion for blogging, social media and introducing those concepts to the clients we work with at Doe-Anderson led me here. While I have a healthy ego, I’m not one to tout my own accomplishments, but there are sites, listings and rankings from around the web that say this little blog of mine serves as a relevant voice in the worlds of social media, public relations, marketing and communications. I owe a great deal of that success to all of you — without traffic, the comments or the inbound links, the site doesn’t even make the radar, much less the list.

Today is also the first day of Blog World & New Media Expo, one of the finest and, I believe, the first, true blogging conferences. I attended last year’s conference as a participant (though it was held in November, not this early in the year) but am going back this year as a speaker and panelist. Again, those of you who have helped make Social Media Explorer a relevant place to visit for social media thinking are to thank. What a difference a year can make.

Several people have asked me how I came out of nowhere to be where I am. I normally just shrug and say, “focusing on good content and networking,” which is the short answer. But to give you a more detailed list of what it takes to build a successful blog and personal brand in any niche or business, here are some things I would recommend based on my own experience:

Be Bold

Content is king. If you’re the nicest guy in the world but your blog offers nothing different than the other 500-600 bloggers out there in your niche, you’re just one of them, only nice. Take a stand on something. Call someone else out. Don’t be afraid of saying something stupid. If I were, I’d never speak.

Some Examples:

The Demise of Online Advertising Is Upon Us

Is It Time To Rethink Email Marketing

Social Media Is The Responsibility Of Public Relations

Friday Frustrations

PRSA Digital Impact Afterthoughts, More Solutions

Why PR Folks Should Blacklist Bloggers

Be Nice

This is the two-word essence of The Cluetrain Manifesto. While that instruction applies to businesses and industries in that particular work, it’s really the key to establishing relationships. I might have strong opinions. I might have a distaste or intolerance for certain people or opinions. But everyone deserves a firm handshake and a smile and the acknowledgment their work, opinions and person are worthwhile. Yes, even her/him.

Be Real

I was going to call this section, “Be Genuine,” and could argue they are the same thing, but real is better. Yes, it sounds cliche, but there’s more to it that the surface interpretation. It means being honest, even to a fault, participating on people’s blogs or social networks because you really want to, not just because it’s advantageous financially or otherwise, and not compromising your approach or principles to “play the game.” To use a political analogy, being genuine is being the anti-politician. There’s no such thing as you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours. If I like your product, I’ll write about it. If I don’t, I won’t and won’t apologize for it. If I say I read your blog, it’s because I do. If I don’t, it’s not because I don’t like you or your writing. It’s either because I haven’t found it yet or it doesn’t provide me with something I can’t get elsewhere. It’s about not blowing smoke up anyone’s ass — including your own.

Be Involved

If I can point to one reason over another my blog is widely read in the industry it’s that I’ve reached out to people, shook their hand and smiled. I’ve listened to them. They’ve listened to me. We’ve established a relationship, if not friendship, and they’re more apt to read the blog of someone they know. You can blog all you want, but meeting folks in the flesh make the relationship more meaningful. I don’t know Mark Dykeman well, but I’ve met him in person. I’m 10 times more likely to read his blog as a result. He would probably say the same of me.

And this doesn’t just mean go to a lot of conferences. Todd Earwood and I started Social Media Club Louisville to do something locally to embrace those interested in social media and share experiences with them. I easily know 100 more people in Louisville now as a result. Shawn Morton and I hopped in the car one morning and drove to Cincinnati — about an hour and a half drive — to meet some folks up there. If it weren’t for that, I would still only know Albert Maruggi as an avatar and a voice. It’s not only about connecting with people online. You have to also connect with people … period.

Be Available

The more bold, nice, real and involved you are, the more you’ll be asked to contribute elsewhere. Whether it’s speaking at a club meeting, a conference or just attending a meet-up, consider it part of your job as a personal brand builder. In the last year, I’ve given talks, presentations, hosted webinars and teleconferences, served on advisory boards and committees, written guest blog posts and done countless podcasts and Blog Talk Radio interviews for no other reason than the people responsible asked me to. I embrace and enjoy the conversation, the camaraderie and the connections as a result. Any benefit I get out the effort in terms of money or clients is gravy.

Here’s the secret sauce to it all, though: Most times, you don’t know more than other people. You’re just more visible and willing to participate with what you do know.

Don’t Trust Just Me

There are lots of other smart folks out there who have great things to say about personal branding. I’ve linked to some of my favorite posts and content on the matter below. While I might have a personal case study to provide, there are lots of great examples of people coming from nowhere to be a visible or relevant voice in their space.

What have you done with your blog, business or social networking connections to elevate your visibility? Tell us your secrets and tips in the comments so we can all contribute to a larger resource of tips and tricks.

And from the bottom of my heart, thanks for reading.

Chris Brogan’s E-Book on Personal Branding

Shel Israel on Personal Branding

Tom Peters’s Fast Company article, “The Brand Called You.”

Susan Bratton’s recent podcast on personal and professional branding.

Dan Schawbel’s Personal Branding Blog

Photo: First Birthday Cake by “HFB” on Flickr.

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About Jason Falls

Jason Falls

Jason Falls is the founder and chief instigator for Social Media Explorer's blog. He is a leading thinker, speaker and strategist in the world of digital marketing and is co-author of two books, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide To Social Media Marketing and The Rebel's Guide To Email Marketing. By day, he leads digital strategy for CafePress, one of the world's largest online retailers. His opinions are his, not necessarily theirs. Follow him on Twitter (@JasonFalls).

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Comments & Reactions

Comments Policy

Comments on Social Media Explorer are open to anyone. However, I will remove any comment that is disrespectful and not in the spirit of intelligent discourse. You are welcome to leave links to content relevant to the conversation, but I reserve the right to remove it if I don't see the relevancy. Be nice, have fun. Fair?

  • http://www.digitalcapitalism.com Kipp Bodnar

    Happy Blog Birthday Jason! Keep it up.

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Thank you, sir. I intend to.

  • http://www.digitalcapitalism.com Kipp Bodnar

    Happy Blog Birthday Jason! Keep it up.

  • http://www.copydiva.com/blog RobinSeidner

    Part of your celebrity is the fact that you are one of the most amusing people around. Congrats to you. I must have know somehow, as before I read this today I went onto Facebook and sent you a red velvet cupcake…weird

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Eeeee … “celebrity” is too strong. At best I'm “that guy … ya know, from that one blog …” But I appreciate the fact you recognize my “amusing” quotient. You should see my conversations with myself. I'm a hoot.

  • http://www.copydiva.com/blog RobinSeidner

    Part of your celebrity is the fact that you are one of the most amusing people around. Congrats to you. I must have know somehow, as before I read this today I went onto Facebook and sent you a red velvet cupcake…weird

  • http://www.BryanPerson.com Bryan Person

    Jason, congrats on going strong into your second year — and for continuing to write engaging and compelling content. That's why I keep coming back!

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Gracias, my friend.

  • http://www.BryanPerson.com Bryan Person

    Jason, congrats on going strong into your second year — and for continuing to write engaging and compelling content. That's why I keep coming back!

  • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

    Thank you, sir. I intend to.

  • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

    Eeeee … “celebrity” is too strong. At best I'm “that guy … ya know, from that one blog …” But I appreciate the fact you recognize my “amusing” quotient. You should see my conversations with myself. I'm a hoot.

  • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

    Gracias, my friend.

  • http://www.personalbrandingmag.com Dan Schawbel

    This is a great post Jason. Thanks for including me in your list of resources. I think you nailed many of the key personal branding tips right there. I think the main reason some people are successful while others aren't is because of the “way” they network. The key to networking is finding people who are more successful than you are, demonstrating value to them and giving them something in return for a relationship. Many people out there take and take and take and so forth. When this happens, it's a real turn-off to others. Blogs are important because we are giving out free content, that is A) useful to our audience B) positions us in our niche.

    Have a good weekend,

    Dan

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Thanks Dan. I certainly appreciate the knowledge and perspectives on your site as well. It's my pleasure to point folks that way. Thanks for stopping by.

  • http://www.personalbrandingmag.com Dan Schawbel

    This is a great post Jason. Thanks for including me in your list of resources. I think you nailed many of the key personal branding tips right there. I think the main reason some people are successful while others aren't is because of the “way” they network. The key to networking is finding people who are more successful than you are, demonstrating value to them and giving them something in return for a relationship. Many people out there take and take and take and so forth. When this happens, it's a real turn-off to others. Blogs are important because we are giving out free content, that is A) useful to our audience B) positions us in our niche.

    Have a good weekend,

    Dan

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  • http://chelpixie.com chelpixie

    Thank you Jason, it's been a pleasure to read you and I love the stands you often take. Be real indeed.

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Thank you!

  • http://chelpixie.com chelpixie

    Thank you Jason, it's been a pleasure to read you and I love the stands you often take. Be real indeed.

  • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

    Thanks Dan. I certainly appreciate the knowledge and perspectives on your site as well. It's my pleasure to point folks that way. Thanks for stopping by.

  • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

    Thank you!

  • http://broadcasting-brain.com Mark Dykeman

    Yes, you're one of the few people to meet the Broadcasting Brain in person (so far).

    Realistically, I probably wouldn't have come across your blog if you hadn't been in Fredericton back in the winter (and you can thank Lisa Rousseau for getting me there in the first place…), so I wouldn't have played that minor role in helping to make you the great guy that you are (oops, did I actually type that.)

    You know, now that I stop and think about it, indirectly you've been responsible for a lot of the success of Broadcasting Brain, mainly by being a connection out there in the blogosphere. So thank you.

    Have fun in Vegas!

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Whatever role I've played in your success is incidental, sir. You provide good content consistently and don't use the networks for self-promotion only. That's most of the formula right there.

      Thanks for reading SME and for providing good thoughts for us to read in return.

  • http://broadcasting-brain.com Mark Dykeman

    Yes, you're one of the few people to meet the Broadcasting Brain in person (so far).

    Realistically, I probably wouldn't have come across your blog if you hadn't been in Fredericton back in the winter (and you can thank Lisa Rousseau for getting me there in the first place…), so I wouldn't have played that minor role in helping to make you the great guy that you are (oops, did I actually type that.)

    You know, now that I stop and think about it, indirectly you've been responsible for a lot of the success of Broadcasting Brain, mainly by being a connection out there in the blogosphere. So thank you.

    Have fun in Vegas!

  • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

    Whatever role I've played in your success is incidental, sir. You provide good content consistently and don't use the networks for self-promotion only. That's most of the formula right there.

    Thanks for reading SME and for providing good thoughts for us to read in return.

  • http://ariwriter.com Ari Herzog

    One of my tips is I click on people's names when they write comments on posts like yours, Jason, so I can visit THEIR blogs or whatever other content they brand their names to. If I like what they have to say, I add a comment. If I really like their style and voice, I subscribe by RSS. Sometimes, it inspires me to seek out that person on other networking sites. But that's what I do. Whether they respond to me, visit my blog, or befriend me on Twitter or such, is up to them. I take the first step.

    Happy birthday!

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Excellent tip, Ari. Actively participating on other people's blogs is by far the most meaningful way to connect to other bloggers. I recognize and appreciate my commentors at conferences just as much as people whose blogs I read. In fact, I ran into Richard Bueno Friday at Blog World Expo and specifically said, “Hey man! You comment on my blog. Thank you, so much!”

      Keep in mind most people blog out of a need to feed their egos. No, it's not always the primary reason, but it's in the mix. The more people who are commenting and playing on their blogs, the better they feel about blogging and themselves. They're going to notice those who give them that confidence.

      I look forward to seeing you in person one day and saying thanks in person, too.

  • http://ariwriter.com Ari Herzog

    One of my tips is I click on people's names when they write comments on posts like yours, Jason, so I can visit THEIR blogs or whatever other content they brand their names to. If I like what they have to say, I add a comment. If I really like their style and voice, I subscribe by RSS. Sometimes, it inspires me to seek out that person on other networking sites. But that's what I do. Whether they respond to me, visit my blog, or befriend me on Twitter or such, is up to them. I take the first step.

    Happy birthday!

  • http://www.lockerdome.com Gabe Lozano

    keep it up jason. you're successful because you're adding value to our community.

    cheers,
    gabe

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Very nice of you, Gabe. I hope I can keep it up. I'm certainly getting a great deal of value out of the community myself.

  • http://www.lockerdome.com Gabe Lozano

    keep it up jason. you're successful because you're adding value to our community.

    cheers,
    gabe

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  • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

    Excellent tip, Ari. Actively participating on other people's blogs is by far the most meaningful way to connect to other bloggers. I recognize and appreciate my commentors at conferences just as much as people whose blogs I read. In fact, I ran into Richard Bueno Friday at Blog World Expo and specifically said, “Hey man! You comment on my blog. Thank you, so much!”

    Keep in mind most people blog out of a need to feed their egos. No, it's not always the primary reason, but it's in the mix. The more people who are commenting and playing on their blogs, the better they feel about blogging and themselves. They're going to notice those who give them that confidence.

    I look forward to seeing you in person one day and saying thanks in person, too.

  • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

    Very nice of you, Gabe. I hope I can keep it up. I'm certainly getting a great deal of value out of the community myself.

  • http://thethinktank.kintera.org frank barry

    hey Jason …

    Thanks for the 'real' post … I'm new to your blog, but really found the info. useful. I'm in the process of launching a new blog for the company I work for. We are going to have a few contributors, none of which have a 'personal brand' of any sort that is visible in the SM world. This type of information is great to learn from.


    http://twitter.com/franswaa

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Thanks Frank. Glad to know we can contribute some assistance. Feel free to hit us with questions if you run into a few. Good luck.

  • http://www.netwitsthinktank.com frank barry

    hey Jason …

    Thanks for the 'real' post … I'm new to your blog, but really found the info. useful. I'm in the process of launching a new blog for the company I work for. We are going to have a few contributors, none of which have a 'personal brand' of any sort that is visible in the SM world. This type of information is great to learn from.


    http://twitter.com/franswaa

  • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

    Thanks Frank. Glad to know we can contribute some assistance. Feel free to hit us with questions if you run into a few. Good luck.

  • http://www.ribeezie.com Ricardo Bueno

    Jason, I missed this one so Happy “Be-lated” Birthday!

    You know, I remember how you closed out your last presentation and mentioned your accomplishment by being given the opportunity to speak alongside Darren Rowse… All I can say is Congratulations! Truly! I know you'll continue to deliver great content…

    By the way, thank you for the interview! It's one of the best and should be going up soon.

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Thanks Ricardo. I appreciate the kind words and was glad to do an interview. You are, as they say, Bueno.

  • http://www.ribeezie.com Ricardo Bueno

    Jason, I missed this one so Happy “Be-lated” Birthday!

    You know, I remember how you closed out your last presentation and mentioned your accomplishment by being given the opportunity to speak alongside Darren Rowse… All I can say is Congratulations! Truly! I know you'll continue to deliver great content…

    By the way, thank you for the interview! It's one of the best and should be going up soon.

  • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

    Thanks Ricardo. I appreciate the kind words and was glad to do an interview. You are, as they say, Bueno.

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  • http://www.onlinesocialsingles.com/ gie

    I totally agree with everything you have stated. personal branding is well, you should be able to maintain a personal relationship right? for everybody to know you better and therefore be able to remember your name. the problem is when you take personal branding to marketing, that's when it became blurred and lost.

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Thanks for the thoughts, gie. Much appreciated.

  • Glenda

    This blog does a really good job of outlining the main components of good blog content. While the steps may seem readily achievable, it is no easy feat so congrats to you Jason! I wanted to include this article below that includes other online resources that will help you build your personal brand besides blogging, such as twittering, posting online videos and holding online presentations. The quality of the content needs to remain high across all these mediums.

    http://psycray.com/tips-for-building-personal-b

    Enjoy!

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Thanks for the link and the comment, Glenda. Much appreciated!

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  • http://www.pacebutler.com/ used cell phones

    Many people recognize that a personal online brand could be as important, possibly more so, than a company brand when looking to win a new client, get a conference speaking pitch approved, or be asked for expert opinion from the media. Online reputation management has also become a very important aspect of recruiting.

  • http://www.brisbanehousepainter.net/ brisbane house painters

    I think that we should be able to maintain a personal relationship right? for everybody to know you better and therefore be able to remember your name. the problem is when you take personal branding to marketing, that's when it became blurred and lost.

  • http://www.brisbanehousepainter.net/ brisbane house painters

    I think that we should be able to maintain a personal relationship right? for everybody to know you better and therefore be able to remember your name. the problem is when you take personal branding to marketing, that's when it became blurred and lost.