Our digital footprint needs to be positive. Understanding the importance a positive digital persona carries could be the difference in your academic, professional, and personal goals. Based on my research on this topic I've made a PowerPoint of ten tips we can adhere to for a positive digital profile.
This is a glimpse at some of the topics I will be discussing as we learn about branding our own digital image to be as positive as possible. These ten strategies will help build your online identity.
•Creating a visual identity
•Cross-Link and post your links
•Google Alert Yourself
•Practice the art of unfollowing and defriending
•Develop your PLN’s and Communities of Practice
•Be a Web 2.0 participant not a bystander
•Lead by example
•Separate professional from personal
•Launch your own PR campaign
•Publicize your efforts
Once you begin to project your online persona across multiple programs an online visual representation will associate itself to your name. You should be careful and create a visual specific to you. For example in the power point you will see someone who is a healthcare professional, it is easy to distinguish. If she participates in online actives centered around her profession she will build an online identity or footprint. Having this picture to back that up will provide a positive visual association for her online identity.
“You should create a visual identity for your professional persona. This picture will be associated with you and your content. To do this, you will need an image to go with your online identity. Paying for good headshots can be a worthwhile investment. Determine the image you want to project. Do you want to be seen as a confident professional or casual person?” (Hengstler, 2010)
My next suggestion based on research is cross linking. By cross linking and creating a digital pathway of your material, you can double your online exposure. Now that we’ve discussed setting up a positive image, it is time to sell that image to all potential employers as well as fellow professionals. One way to sell that image is to cross link your contributions or posts within separate web 2.0 tools.
"When you create links of your posts or website or blog, you publicize yourself online, thereby spreading your digital footprint. When you comment on any other post, you could link you name to another forum or blog where your name appears. This spreads your digital footprint like magic.”(Nneka,2012)
Next I want to discuss being proactive. When it comes to your digital footprint, be proactive. To maintain a positive social profile means you have to be in control of your online presence. There are however,aspects of an online presence that are out of your control. We’ve learned so far to be in control of your personal brand, but what about the times your friend, who does not share your professionalism, or perhaps does not have the background in creating and maintaining a positive digital footprint causes a problem post with your name on it. This person may not think twice about posting something they find comical and tagging your name on it as well. With Google alerts you can maintain an updated presence by playing defense against such happenings. The offensive is maintained by being proactive about your digital footprint, the defense is making sure those around you play fair with your name as well. Google alert is one way to do this. "This enables you to know when you name is mentioned online. By registering for Google alerts, you get alerted on your mail whenever your books are cited or whenever a tag of you is created" (Nneka, 2012)
I want to talk more about being defensive with your name. Managing individuals and their content in online networks is another defensive play in building a strong online profile. If you are connected to someone who posts questionable material, then it may be time to “unconnect” them from yourself. Just like the friends that never grew up, we all have people we are connected to, that might not be at the same point and time we are at in life. These types of people can be hazardous to your positive digital footprint. It can be as simple as them posting and tagging a photo of you from high school out of the blue one day, because they think it is a funny picture. Remember not everyone is going to be as proactive as you are about creating and maintaining a proud digital footprint.
“The practice of cutting someone from your network has various terms, “unfriend” in Facebook or “unfollow” in Twitter. When you build networks, make sure you know how to sever connections. If a colleague, professional, or other person with whom you are networked posts materials that you would consider problematic, privately let the other person know that while you value his/her contributions, some recent content does not adhere to your professional standards”(Hengstler, 2010)
Next we will discuss encouraging PLN’s. We just talked about sifting through those people in your life that might need to become defriended or distanced, in order to maintain a positive digital footprint. That is one way to play a defense in protecting who you are online. A great offense to take after that would be to then connect with those who are like minded. Start developing and actively participating in personal learning networks and environments with people who are at the same place in life as you.
By participating in web 2.0 you are continually developing your footprint.“By encouraging and supporting beginning teachers in developing their own PLNs, schools, and districts can help them forge their positive digital footprints as an educator, provide extensive collaborative support and establish a rich source of ideas and professional development during their first years in the classroom." ( Hewson ,2013)
“It can start with just a few simple steps, such as joining twitter and other educational social networks, developing a blog and/or commenting on the blogs of other professionals or participating in the myriad of online webinars and educational conferences”-(Hewson, 2013)
A certain leadership quality is expected from all educators. In order to maintain respect in the classroom teachers are expected to be respectful in their personal digital persona. This can be compromised by a negative online presence such as inappropriate Facebook status or rude, sarcastic, condescending twitter feeds. These types of actions are quickly becoming reasons for teacher dismissals. That is why it is an important step towards good digital citizenship to be a leader. Take charge and show others how in the digital medium.
“Educators are responsible for serving as positive role models for students, not only in the physical classroom but also in the digital world. This can be especially tough for educators who use social media for both personal and professional reasons”(American Teacher, 2012)
Separating your personal and professional lives in the digital environment is a key component to building and maintaining a positive digital footprint. It is important to remember the content from emails, tweets, texts, blogs and other communications can become permanent records with a simple copy and paste. Think to yourself if your content would withstand the professionalism you are trying to portray.
“Educators-whether at the kindergarten level or the post-secondary level- are always in a position of trust with regard to their students. All your content should pass the mom-boss-professional standards/ethics rule”(American Teacher, 2012)
Finally, let us talk about launching your own personal PR campaign. Like every product and company a strong PR campaign can be exactly what is needed to maintain or build a positive image. As future employees and educators, building our brand is just as important. You are a brand. You are an educator, and your brand is what you bring to the classroom and beyond. In order to digitally be the best brand you can be, make sure you understand how your digital footprint represents you as said brand. With this knowledge, you can then use everything we’ve already discussed in a wider arching campaign to build you as a product. One way to build this is to publicize your efforts. For example if you are applying to be a director of curriculum or department chair it would be beneficial to have your published works and writing samples regarding these topics available and waiting for the hiring manager.
“Whether or not negative information about you exists on the Web, it’s a good idea to ensure that there are plenty of positive associations. In a competitive job market like today’s, a strong—not merely “clean”—online presence can tilt a hiring decision in your favor. A little effort can go a long way toward presenting yourself in a good light. For example, posting to user group discussions or submitting content to an industry newsletter positions you as a leader in your specialty area. You might also consider launching a website to detail your professional skills and accomplishments or starting a blog about a professional subject with which you are closely familiar”. (Willner, 2009)
“If your online presence is especially strong, make it easy for hiring managers to find positive information about you by including the URLs of these sources in your resume or cover letter.” (Willner, 2009)
Eke, H. (2012). Creating a digital footprint as a means of optimizing the personal branding of librarians in the digital society . Webology, 9(2), 1-14. Retrieved September 18, 2013, from http://www.webology.org/2012/v9n2/a100.html
Hengstler, J. (2010). Managing Your Digital Footprint: Ostriches v. Eagles. Education For a Digital World 2.0, 1, 89-139. Retrieved September 18, 2013, from http://www.malaspina.bc.ca/education/faculty_publications/hengstler/EducationforDigitalWorld2.0_1_jh89.pdf
Hewson, K. (2013, April 1). What Size Is Your Digital Footprint? A Powerful Professional Learning Network Can Give a Boost to a New Teaching Career. Phi Delta Kappan, 94, 14.
Kosik, W. (2013, June). Big data archeology and the consulting engineer: the digital footprint we create today will help anthropologists tomorrow. Consulting Specifying Engineer, 50, 80. Retrieved September 10, 2013, from http://go.galegroup.com
Willner, D. (2009, Jun. - Jul.). Managing your digital footprint. T + D , 63, 84.