Hi, it’s Michelle here (Shelldaynight to give away my blogging and Twitter persona), I am taking over for Week 4.
This week we’re going to be looking at our online presence; most of us will have one whether we have chosen to or not! It is therefore important to look at ways to deliberately craft your online identity so that others see you as you want to be seen. So this week we will be encouraging you to take a number of steps to ensure your online presence is up-to-date and relevant (I will be doing this too as currently I am not practicing what I preach :))
Step 1: Review what you’ve made available about yourself online.
Make a list of the online platforms you’ve ever signed up to: ones you’re currently using and those you’ve abandoned….
Step 2: Get spring cleaning!
Out of date, inactive profiles don’t look so good, so you’ll need to tidy up; make some decisions about what to keep and maintain, and what to delete. There may be a good reason to keep some platforms which you aren’t particularly active on. For example, if you can maintain a relatively up-to-date profile on platforms such as LinkedIn, with automatic updates from your more active web presences (e.g. a blog, twitter or other platform) and clear links to where you can primarily be found, then these little-used sites might be worth keeping. Likewise, abandoned blogs with entries which might still be of interest and use to people might be better kept than deleted as they will be another route to direct people to your main presence online. However, if you don’t intend to do a basic level of maintenance to keep them more or less up to date, then it might be worth deactivating or deleting where possible. You can also delete individual posts which might reflect poorly, irrelevantly or inaccurately on you. Of course, its not always possible to entirely get rid of online material, as it will likely have been archived somewhere, but this will help to make it less accessible.
Step 3: Review your privacy settings on social sites.
This is particularly relevant on sites such as Facebook. Facebook privacy settings change constantly, and the default setting is almost always public, assuming that you will automatically want to opt-in to sharing, rather than opt-out. This guide from Lifehacker talks you through the things you need to check. The main things to check are in the ‘Privacy’ and Tagging and Timeline’ menus. Check that your privacy settings state that only ‘Friends’ (rather than ‘Friends of Friends’ or ‘Public’) can see your posts and timeline, that your profile and timeline cannot be searched by Google or other search engines, and that you must be notified of and approve any photos etc which other people have tagged with your name. Once you’re done, you can see how your profile will look to others from the outside.
Step 4: Review your Google ranking, and monitor what others put online about you…
Make a habit of Googling yourself, to see how visible various aspects of your online profile are. Monitor also if there are any new materials about you which others have put online. You should check too if there are things about people who share your name, which might need disambiguating from your profile. To make this easier, you can set up a Google Alert, which will save your search, perform it automatically at regular intervals, and email you any results. You could also search social media search engines such as SocialMention or Technorati.
Step 5: Make sure the things other people have put up about you are up-to-date and relevant…
If the highest and most recent ‘hits’ on Google are out of date, for example, relating to universities where you studied or worked previously, then you’ll need to request that your current university has a page for you, or that irrelevant old material is removed, by contacting those who run the website. If this isn’t possible, you’ll need to do some work yourself, to create new, more relevant and more visible content.
Step 6: Make your profile visible
Google’s Webmaster resources are a good place to start and learn more about search engine optimisation.
Think about your metadata – other than your name, what terms are people likely to use when searching for someone like you? Start from the perspective of the various people who might be searching. You might find the autocomplete suggestions in the Google search box useful, or try the keywords suggested for your research area in library catalogues (Cambridge’s LibrarySearch has a useful wordcloud feature). This link might suggest further useful tools. Use this metadata when setting up a profile, creating a webpage, or when tagging blogposts and other media such as videos which you upload.
Interlink those aspects of your online profile that you wish to be visible. Google ranks ‘authority’ sites such as those with university URLs (e.g. .ac.uk or .edu), and the main social media platforms which generate high traffic (such as LinkedIn) most highly. You could also consider which web pages outside academia have the most authority, relevance and impact in your field, and link to those. Linking between these will help them to appear prominently in search hits.
These steps cover the essentials of monitoring and managing your online profile – even being invisible online takes work these days! Work through these steps to make sure you’re developing your online presence from a good starting point.
Keyskills: How easy was it to find, clean up and update your accounts? How easy was it to decide which privacy settings would work for you?
Profession-specific: What professional persona do you want to portray? Does your current online presence portray you in the way you want? What steps do you need to take (if any) to improve your professional presence?
Evaluation: How comfortable are you with being visible online? Would you prefer to stay as invisible as possible and ensure that your online persona is strictly professional? Or do you agree with this view that privacy is a modern concept which is overvalued?
Integration: How much time do you think you need to give to ensure your online presence is kept up-to-date and relevant?