How to Build a Brand – Viral Theory 101 Part II

For all my fellow online marketers, or those of our readers who are just learning how to build a brand, pay very close attention to what I’m about to say. This may be the number 1 mistake that I’ve seen people make when launching their first campaign:

People follow people.  They don’t follow websites.

How to Build a Brand

Don’t take this the wrong way, but if you’re new to the scene, it’s the cold truth that people really don’t care what you have to say. If you’re just another random screen name, no one is going to listen to you, nor will they care what content you have on your website. What’s more, if all you ever do is post your own content, then people will see it and dismiss it as just what it is– self-promotion.

So the question becomes, “How do I get people to read my content, on my own website?” After all, the whole point of online marketing is to create conversions. We covered that in the first edition of Viral Theory 101. But people don’t visit the website, or follow someone’s social profile, if they don’t have a good reason to. This is where a good brand awareness campaign using tools like content curation comes into play.

Content Curation

First, if you haven’t already, create social profiles for yourself on all the major social networks. This should be a given–this includes Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo Answers, Quora, LinkedIn, Reddit, and countless numbers of other networks. Most people already know to do this, but then they make the biggest mistake: the content that they share to their networks is only their own.

A quick way to register your username across all of the major networks is to use a service like KnowEm, which checks the availability of your desired username in each network and registers it if you so choose.

If every post you share is from your own blog, not only will people easily recognize that as shameless self-promotion, but it’s actually considered spam on a number of social networks.

So how do you get around this? The trick is simpler than you might think–but it is time-consuming. In order to drive more visitors to your website, or create more conversions of any kind using content, you have to build up your social profile so that you become viewed as a reliable source of fresh, relevant, content in your field. This includes content that isn’t your own–yes, I mean that you should be sharing content from other websites and sources other than yourself.

The complaint that I’ve gotten from a lot of clients at this point is “What about competitors? I don’t want to send people to other websites or other social profiles. They should be coming to our website or our profile.”

While that’s entirely correct, and it is the end goal of any Internet marketing campaign, have you ever followed someone’s social profile or website just because they claimed to know what they were talking about? Or do you follow someone because they provide the freshest, most relevant content? Nine times out of 10, the latter is true. Like I said, people follow people, not websites. Just throwing ‘social media guru’ into your bio isn’t how to build a brand, nor is it going to get people to listen to you.

Enter the world of content curation.

Last edition of Viral Theory 101, we talked about several different types of Internet marketing campaigns. The first one was brand awareness – if you haven’t performed a campaign for brand awareness yet, this is without a doubt the best place to start. Even if you don’t have a website yet, and even if you don’t have a company or brand yet, you can still run a brand awareness campaign for your self–building up your own reputation as an individual in whatever your field is. Once you’ve done that, it’s exponentially easier to introduce the audience you’ve created to new projects, ideas, and brands.

Of course don’t get me wrong–there are plenty of other ways to advertise on the Internet and run online marketing campaigns without having a strong social following. But having one makes your job significantly easier. So, let’s go over some of the more effective methods of building your influence using content:

1) Content Curators

There are a number of online services that have been created to help this process–but, there’s still nothing better than good old-fashioned personal research. This means using RSS feeds, subscribing to e-mail loops, and whatever else it takes to keep track of the best content in the field you want to set yourself up as an expert in. When you find an article that’s worth sharing, let people know–across whatever social profiles you think would be most effective.

Remember, when your focus becomes Internet marketing, your twitter feed is no longer a place for your own personal interests–the content that you post should be targeted to the audience that you want to reach. What interests them? What articles or tools would be most beneficial? Even more importantly, what content is most likely to be shared again by your followers?

Those are just a few things to keep in mind–but, those curation tools I mentioned can also be extremely useful. These are a few of the more common ones:

Probably one of the more common content curators, this service is basically an “online newspaper.” It pulls information from tweets, RSS feeds, major news sites, Facebook profiles, and just about any other source that you ask it to. Once it’s done, it puts the whole thing into a newspaper format, complete with headlines, featured articles, and even videos. You can choose to subscribe using e-mail, or even have the service automatically announce new “editions” view your Twitter page. Technically the service is free, but there is also a “Pro” version for $9 per paper monthly.

Read our tips for using effectively here: How to Make a Newspaper

This is an alternative to, with a lot of similar features, but geared more toward brands and companies. We’ve got a review in the works, which we will post here once it’s complete.

While this service doesn’t find content for you, it does a masterful job of creating any number of “pipelines” for your RSS feeds and social accounts. Essentially, you can create and filter any number of your favorite feeds and profiles and have them be automatically posted to your social networks. One word of caution, however: be very careful that you don’t cross the line of plagiarism. It needs to be very clear who the creator of the content is–if it’s you, no problem. If you’re sharing from someone else’s feed or profile, make it very clear that you’re doing so–otherwise, big trouble invariably ensues.

Google reader

Of course you can use any RSS reader of your choice, Google is simply one of the more common and easy readers to use. It also has the added benefit of linking to your e-mail account, for regular updates and notifications. If you really want to stay in tune with a certain topic, use Google Web alerts. These will provide you with instant updates to your inbox every time Google encounters a page that matches your search terms. For example, a news alert for “net neutrality” will automatically provide you with all of the updates and news articles related to net neutrality cases.


There are a number of other third-party services that provide curation assistance. A popular choice here at Viral Fever is SproutSocial, which is primarily a social dashboard to manage your social media profiles but conveniently integrates with both Google reader and Web alerts.

2) Content creation

All this talk about content curation doesn’t belittle the fact that being the author of new content is a power in its own right. Creating content for your website is a big enough topic on its own which we’ll leave for another post, so we’ll focus on some of the other content creation platforms. No, I don’t mean, or Tumblr, or any of the other free blog sites. Those sites are useful, but by themselves they don’t do a whole lot in the way of actually promoting your content. So let’s look at some of the other options:


The latest craze to hit the net, Squidoo is actually a brilliant little website that exploded in popularity. It gives its users the opportunity to create what they call a “lens,” which is really nothing more than an article. While building your article, your options are complete with link building, images, comments, and even wiki and user generated content.  Check out our quick intro to Squidoo here: Build your SEO with Squidoo

Definition– SEO: stands for “search engine optimization,” the act of improving your site’s performance on search engines like Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc. Search engine optimization is a vital part of owning a website–without it, your website’s visibility is nearly nonexistent.
Guest Blogging
Sure, it takes a bit of extra time to write fresh content for other blogs, but it’s a great way to get your name out there.  Plenty of sites accept guest bloggers – Viral Fever included!   If you’re able to show that you’re a good writer who is knowledgable about your topic, a lot of blogs and major news sites will consider you for guest posting.  Everyone needs content, and if you have the time and expertise to provide that content, you can receive backlinks and traffic to your website by guest posting.  Another word of caution:  Don’t ever simply duplicate content.  Not only does that hurt your search engine rankings, it also usually violates the site’s guest posting policies (and even if not, it’s just not good authorship).  With good quality content though, most sites let you put a short bio and a backlink to your own site within the article. If you think you’d like to start writing guest posts, feel free to start here at Viral Fever! Just reach out on our Contact Page
Good whitepapers require a little more in-depth detail than a typical blog post, but the concept remains the same – in return for signing up for your email list, or requesting more information, you provide your readers with a free downloadable PDF chock full of all your spiffy knowledge about any given topic.  Throw in some infographics, charts, & images to make it a fun read, plus some references or study reports to add credibility. People love free knowledge.  So, give it to them!  And brand that knowledge with your logo!   Think of a whitepaper as nothing more than a small thesis on your topic of expertise – a thesis with your brand or logo clearly on it, establishing you as the credible authority on the topic!


Your turn:

This is a pretty general overview so far – we’re going to keep digging deeper into various marketing strategies, such as effective content writing, social brand monitoring, SEO, and more. But we don’t want to go too fast for our readers either – What questions do you have so far?  What do you want to hear about next?  Do you have any specific questions in regards to how to build a brand?

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About Nathan C Brown

An avid tech nut and supporter of Internet freedom, Nathan is the founder of the National Media Alliance. He regularly consults on Network Marketing (particularly Social, SEO & Email Marketing), Web Analytics, and Website Design. Before his years in marketing, he spent his time touring the United States as an Organizational Communications and Public Speaking coach & author. His secret? Coffee in the morning and scotch at night.

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  • vida_llevares

    I agree that we should pay much attention to content creation. It is, after all, the primary key to attracting readers – the quality of the content.

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