By Diana Gomez
For many small business owners, their integrity is the backbone of their enterprise. Loyal customers depend on them to reliably deliver exceptional goods and services. This personal trust is a key reason that many of these “Davids” can successfully compete with the “Goliaths.”
As more products and services are transacted online, it has become more difficult for small businesses to maintain the personal relationships that can provide a competitive edge. This is why it is so important to cultivate personal identities and relationships on the web as well.
One easy way to get started is to incorporate personal photos into your online activities. A good approach is to treat your personal profile as if it is your brand. After all, in many ways it is!
Take a cue from savvy brand marketers:
Â Packaging is everything: Consumer products companies spend millions of dollars to design packaging that is appealing to the customer. Make the effort to take some good photos of yourself as well. In most cases, this would be a professional, recognizable head shot. Remember, unless you happen to be a big-time wrestler, you want your image to be friendly and portray trust!
Â Be Consistent: Brand marketers generally try to display their brand consistently across all products and media. The same goes for your photo. Consider using the same one in all of your on-line activities. In a way, your photo becomes an instantly recognizable brand logo in the online community.
Â Protect the Brand: Many companies go to extraordinary lengths to protect their brands. You should do the same with your online identity. Be careful how your profile and photos are distributed and portrayed on the web. Monitor your online persona. Take corrective action to remove posts that aren’t “on message.”
Once you’ve defined your personal brand, it’s time to publish it. Here are a few places to start:
Â If you have a Facebook or LinkedIn account, it’s likely that you have already posted a personal photo. Start by reviewing these and any other photos already on-line and consider replacing them with some that are more suitable.
Â If your business has a website, you will want to personalize it with photos. This is one of the few venues where photos other than headshots may be appropriate. Just make sure that they are professional and consistent with your strategy.
Â Consider adding your personal photo to your email signature. If you decide to do this, resize the photo and be selective in its use. Some recipients discourage this practice as it can add to the size of the email, but most email providers now make it easier than ever to add images.
Â Some integrated phone systems such as Microsoft Lync enable you to add photos to your profile. The system will display these personal images in contacts, email, phone and IM communications.
Â By adding a photo to your Google+ profile, it will be accessible from other Google offerings such as Authorship or Hangouts. These applications will link to your profile and further expand its reach. Your photo can even be displayed in Google search results.
Â Blogging tools such as WordPress can incorporate your photo. This same image will then be displayed in your posts on all WordPress Blogs. While many people use avatars for blog posts, consider adding your headshot instead.
Â Of course, you can also add a photo to your profile on a multitude of individual sites such as Twitter, Skype and Yelp. Be sure to take advantage of these whenever you can.
The old adage that “a picture is worth a thousand words” is just as true today as it was a hundred years ago. Incorporating personal photos into your online activities will help you build and maintain valuable relationships with your customers. Goliath won’t have a chance!