This is a guest post by Miguel JimÃ©nez, a user experience and interaction designer based in Madrid.
There's a lot of noise today around Personal Branding and constructing your own self as a global brand on a certain topic. It makes complete sense to increase your professional value reflecting on others and using the Internet to build up this reputation. It's said that you should start by creating an online identity, supposedly to reflect your Real Worldâ„¢ one, with an entry point in the form of a blog or similar. That's a nice introduction and itâ€™s quite easy to implement, but the main problem to the process of constructing a self-brand is monitoring and tracking how your efforts perform and the next steps you should take. So let's have a conceptual look and sketch around the statistical data found nowadays in the Internet.
Trying to define the problem as close as possible, let's suppose we are related to the design field. We are expressing our ideas on a personal blog and we use a Twitter account to interact with related people. Smart as we are, we have a Feedburner account tracking our subscribers and we have claimed our blog in Technorati; of course, we havenâ€™t forgotten about Ego Searches on Google and the global rankings of Alexa and Technorati. So there we go, we have around 6 services with a bunch of data to analyze and we must try to determine how good (or bad) we are doing on the self-brand project. If youâ€™ve worked with this data before you can clearly see that itâ€™s missing any context and thereâ€™s nothing related to your purposes or the higher branding goal.
Make the Information Useful
So the main point there is to sketch a way of visualizing all those rows of data and convert it into a subset of useful information that can be used to achieve the branding goal. So letâ€™s focus on the blog, probably our biggest content producer. When we publish something in the blog we tend to see how many subscribers we reach on Feedburner, but how can we measure the impact of the published content? A nice relation would be to tie up the content published affecting the subscribers, in order to keep working on those topics. This effect is not only regarded to RSS subscribers, it also affects Twitter followers, so that should be tracked as well; and it doesnâ€™t end here, because it also affects the authority rank in Technorati if someone links the post. It can get even more complex - that link could generate more traffic to the blog and, indeed, also increase also the amount of subscribers. Altogether the content is indexed in search engines and both your tweets, posts and incoming links get searched, found and converted into traffic that can also, at the end, affect your subscriber base.
At the beginning we see ourselves as the centre of the branding goal, and we should reflect the information about the activity we are performing. That is, to measure the consistency of our publishing and the items published we need to track the frequency and amount of elements thrown into the Internet; this can be easily depicted with a bar graph showing the data published in a period of time. This data is not only related to the blog itself, but to all the content we publish, including Twitter and the rest of social networks.
From the moment of publication, our content will start generating some reactions inside our Inner Circle of Influence; in this closer area we can see our actual subscribers, followers or fans and the actions they take are really important to our goal. Tracking the impact on subscribers, blog reactions, incoming links and replies on Twitter give an interesting overview of how the content performs out there. Data in this area is easy to track, itâ€™s already available through the services and tools used, but thereâ€™s a global vision around it that cannot be reached without defining relations between them. Those relations are located on the Outer Circle of Influence and reflect all the connections between the different areas of exposition in the inner circle. It doesnâ€™t only show the connections but represents the impact of disparate events across the inner circle and how it affects other parts from the outer perspective. The mix of inner and outer circle reactions is reflected on the global impact our content has on the Internet represented by the Alexa and Technorati global rankings.
Of course this only is a sketch on how we could represent the information, but there are many problems related to the representation shown above. The first one is that we cannot track the progress from a previous state, so itâ€™s just like an instant-shot of the information. The second one is the complexity of the relations, if you are tracked by a lot of people the connections on the outer circle can be a real mess. On the other hand, a really messy outer circle means you are getting lot of reactions. And at the end, it doesnâ€™t provide you with clear steps on what to do, it just shows the impact of your last movements so you can take it into consideration and keep planning reactions to the numbers.
It would be really interesting to hear your thoughts and suggestions around this sketch. Are you following any rules to track this information? Is it a complete mess and isnâ€™t worth the time and effort of analyzing so much data? Shall we rely only on the data provided by the external services or should we keep trying to look for intersection points within?