We spend lots of time dressing up for others, speaking well so we will be perceived well by others, and, generally, wanting to project a purposeful image of how we want others to see us. This isn’t hubris, necessarily.
We do these things to project not only who we are (on our best days), but, more importantly, who we’re trying to become. These images or facades are, in a certain sense, goals that we project tangibly to the outside world.
Why not apply this to your and your student’s digital footprint.
Why should you? As you pass people on the street, in the hallway, or get stared at during meetings they see you for a portion of your day and can judge you only on limited and passing observations. Online, though, your image, projected with intention or not, is in stasis…just waiting to be uncovered. A negative or questionable tweet, post or jpeg can do much more damage to your reputation than a little toilet paper on the bottom of your shoe at a dinner party.
Don’t simply manicure the things you say on social media. Go ahead and purposefully add image, colors, and quotes to your Twitter, Google+, YouTube, Scoop.it, Cel.ly and blog accounts. Make people see you online as you want to be seen.
Add a quote to your blog page from someone you admire to send a message about your influences or what topics you tend to focus on. Do your shoes match your belt? Does your image on YouTube match the image your projecting on Twitter and your blog?
YouTube does a great job of giving you a check list (green, unfilled circles) on the top right hand part of your homepage.
Twitter allows you to upload images to your profile and your header as well as a field to describe yourself.
Celly has a place where you can either upload one of their preloaded avatars or your own image.
WordPress has all kinds of ways to modify how your blog looks and how others access pages or posts.
As we become social learners through social media, sites and apps are beginning to understand that as much as we love to dress ourselves for success in the real world…we need to do as much for the digital world. The good news for us newbies is that most of these sites and apps have an array of images and appearances that are ready to be uploaded until you find your digital self.
It’s becoming more and more apparent that we aren’t just leaving a general and vague digital footprint…it’s more like a digital fingerprint.
If you have some other suggestions please let me know, but here are some nice examples of people who I follow on Twitter who have groomed their online presence. Take a look at, not necessarily the content (although that is high quality as well), but the layout, the titles, the colors, the images, etc. on Twitter, versus their blog, versus their curated pages, versus their other online sounding boards:
Rafranz Davis – http://rndesigns.com
Sam Patterson – http://www.mypaperlessclassroom.org
Amber Teamann – http://about.me/amberteamann (great quote!)
Erin Klein – http://www.kleinspiration.com
Joni Allison – http://joniallison.edublogs.org