Tag Archives: Social Media Strategist

How to Choose a Web Savvy Brand or Domain Name

I’ve been helping several clients answer the question: what is branding and how do I decide on a company brand or domain name especially online? Good domain names can be hard to find, do I use my own name, help?!  Many factors come into play in choosing a name or establishing a brand –

  • Your industry/area of expertise
  • how established your business is already
  • do you want to sell it later
  • and what is the central “IT”, the core take away you want your customers to get about your brand.

Branding is a balance of several factors.  How your audience, or current and potential customers, perceive your brand, and what their POV brings to the table is a factor that is becoming more important. Many American big-name brands became household names in the days when there were three TV channels that most of America watched.  Newer household brand names have taken advantage of the new playing field, finding creative ways to reach the audience through the internet and new social media tools.

But how does a small business owner, entrepreneur, or solopreneur go about leveraging the power of the internet? Guy Kawasaki referenced this in a  recent teleseminar for his new book Reality Check, that it is easier now that ever for the little guy. The open source, Web 2.0 tools can make you look as good as the businesses with millions behind them.  I add that, the small business owner might be able to do it better, as he is actually closer to his customer.  The small business can change course and integrate (or discard) new tools faster than the fortune 500’s can.

Back to  the practicalities of selecting a name.  If you are established, of course I hope you registered your company name long ago.  But sometimes a catch phrase or buzz word can work as well, as long as you can own, or live up to it.  A colleague and client of mine, John Reddish, a business consultant for over 30 years named his company name is Advent Management International, Ltd many years ago; his website is www.GetResults.com; his new business succession blog to help small business owners craft exit strategies and sell their companies is www.thesuccessionplanner.com.  In search engines – the name John Reddish leads you to each of his online “outposts.” For social media sites, his website name, which he builds into his tag line on everything he does, will work much better than his company name.  It intrigues you – may make you think, “yes, I want to  Get Results…I think I’ll check him out.” But using his own name, which has some internet cache as he has authored many articles and been quoted in on-line magazines, would also have been a good choice as well.

One advantage for entrepreneurs and solopreneurs, who are creating an new website on blogging platforms like WordPress, your own name can become your brand. One way it can help you, is that when people search for you by name, after meeting you for example, it gives you automatic “Google juice,” that is having a keyword or search term in a website name does still help with search engine rankings; although it is not the complete picture.  It would also become a part of every blog page title, which also helps with rankings as well.  However, you can also set up your blog to include your name in every page title by working with the Permalinks structure of post titles. The down side of using your own name, is unless you are well known, your name is an unknown. To a prospective client or customer, I gives no clues to your business niche, or identity.  It doesn’t help me pick you out from the crowd, unless someone else introduced me to you.

Two other difficulties with using your name as your brand or online identity include:

1) It may already be taken; I waited several years before a domain name re-seller released the .com version of my own name back into the internet names pool. I had to buy it through an auction, but was lucky and it only cost $10.

2) It will take time and work to become known for your name and niche.  It will take time either way, but perhaps more time with just your name, unless you are well-known in your industry, are an author, or the like.

3) If your business lends itself to resale, you should seriously consider not using your name as your website or as your social media handle, for somewhat obvious reasons. If you sell your company, the online branding becomes a part of the business valuation.  Your social media accounts can become part of the deal…if you’ve set them up that way.  This may be controversial, as the social media cityscape is built mainly on the strength of relationships.  I know of one blogger who was recently approached to purchase his domain, site and following for a hamdsome sum.  He turned it down.  It would have seriously hurt his credibility, and he would have had to start building all over again, not from scratch, but from much further down the lane than where his is today.

For my website, blog and new company name, I went with a dynamic phrase that was still available:  WebSavvyPR.com. This proves that there are still some good website names out there; it did take me a while to come up with a combination that I felt worked for me.  I also registered my own name, but have yet to set it up; at this point I will probably do a redirect, or set up a basic page with contact info, which will link to this site.  Also I felt that in the social networking world of LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and with the hundreds of new media tools, a dynamic name would give me a hook.  I watched myself read a LinkedIn comment by someone who used their tagline/company name as their handle and I was intrigued enough to click through to her website.  I remembered that lesson. This is not always accepted practice on all sites, you have to learn the culture of each site or be branded a newbie, or a spammer.  My social media handle is CathyWebSavvyPR.  I’m trying to capture the best of both worlds, and keep my brand from feeling like a faceless company.  Although recently I have begun to use my brand without my first name, lest someone else grab it on various sites.

What do you think? Company name, brand/identity/hook, or personal name as brand. There is no perfect solution; and there are pros and cons on all sides of the question.

My post here was sparked by one Chris Brogan wrote today and got me thinking about it in a new way, and I’m headed there to add a comment to his site on one aspect of the question – Customer POV and branding.  I hope this post helps you find the sweet spot for creating your on-line brand identy.

You can find me on LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/in/cathylarkin

on Twitter at http://twitter.com/CathyWebSavvyPR (no caps needed, it just makes it easier to read)

or e-mail me at Cathy [dot] Larkin [at] WebSavvyPR [Dot] Com ( to proect against spam) or use my comment form.

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New Client Excitement – How to be a Good Social Media Guide

I just had an initial phone meeting with a prospective new client, and I am excited. It allowed me to articulate several aspects of the PR / social networking niche I am filling: Social media strategist, or Social Media PR, no I like Social Media Guide – I don’t like 1st two over-used phrases, but they can help forma  picture – to me they all mean assisting clients (small business owners, other bloggers, coaches, speakers, solopreneurs and entrepreneurs) with mapping out the right online social media spaces for them, and showing them how to navigate these in an authentic way that will allow them to expand their brand and build their business. I do not want to do it for them, I want to show them how to do it for themselves – I enjoy sharing these new resources with people and watching the light go on when they “Get IT! ”

Many small business people and bloggers know how to do whatever it is they do, and they do it well. What they may not know how to do is how to effectively expand the reach of the brand that they have worked so hard to build, and tell people about it in meaningful, effective ways that get people to take action.  What I do well is connect people to the information, tools, resources and the people they need to both do what they do better, and plug them in to the networks that exist, (from getting coverage in newspapers, magazines radio and TV, to creating a rich online presence through blogging, Twitter, FaceBook, LinkedIn and more) so that more people know and hear about what they do, and how well they do it.  I can help you connect with a larger, more targeted audience in authentic ways, if you are willing. That’s what I do well. I’m tech savvy, and I speak both Technoese and English, and can translate between the two in a way that does not intimidate those who consider themselves less tech-comfy.

My definition of PR is connecting organizations (businesses; non-profits, museums and public gardens; or individual small business owners and bloggers) to the right audiences: prospective and/or current clients, customers, members, readers). The social media piece of it, is just learning to use new online tools and adapting our approach to be effective in those places. Thanks to Geoff Livingston for asking for that definition at a conference where I formulated the answer.

Many folks can and do choose to explore this new landscape on their own, cool! But others realize that they are too busy enough doing what they do to reinvent the wheel; and they realize that to hit the road and gain traction, they need a colleague who is familiar with these online spaces.  In the social media, social networking sphere, PR professionals are often given little respect.  Sometimes it’s from the bigger social media players who have been in it from the start and learned it all themselves and say – “you don’t need to pay $15,000 a month to learn this.” They are right, you don’t.

Many business people hire accountants, and office staff or virtual assistants, and use coaches and various consultants so that they can focus on what they do well.  Why not a hire a social media guide: someone  who enjoys ferreting out the tools they need (discarding those that are irrelevant), show them how they work, and what are the best practices; and connect them with the right places to use these tools to get results for their business, blog or niche. That’s who I am. My background is not that of a major PR agency pushing a variety of products.  I come from a kinder, gentler public relations background; I have 18 years of experience in traditional PR – I come from a non-profit public garden, museum, attraction background.  I’m used to reaching out to reporters, editors and bloggers and building relationships with those who want the information I am giving them. I do my research; I am used to finding out the right contact at the right publication, then finding the right aspect or angle of the story that makes it new and fresh and gets the, “yes, we’ll consider doing a story.”  I have spent the last two years taking these traditional, old-school PR skills and learning to apply them to this new world.

More to come tomorrow – This post introduces you some of the ways I work in this new social media space, tomorrow I’ll lay out a plan to help you connect.  For some readers it may be talking about familiar topics, for others it may bring a fresh approach.  I look forward to engaging in the conversation with you – We’re all learning as we go along, even the big social media GURU’s, because the landcape is alwasy changing – but I’m still having a blast on the ride!

You can find me on LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/in/cathylarkin

on Twitter at http://twitter.com/CathyWebSavvyPR (no caps needed, it just makes it easier to read)

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