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Crafting an Online Persona

Craig Anderson, from Kean University in NJ discussed creating an online persona, or defining who you are in an anonymous world.  Many people are afraid of unflattering or embarassing Facebook photos, so they avoid social media altogether.  That is not the right approach; instead you need to control the message you present.  We all know how to wear different faces; in some environments we are more controlled, and in others we are more free.  We have different filters depending on where we are.  That ability can be transferred to social media.   See “10 Privacy Settings Every Facebook Users Should Know“.

JP Porcaro, Virtual Services Librarian, NJ City University, noted that you can brand yourself.  For example, his blog, 8bitlibrary, has become heavily trafficked and has branded him in the digital world.  Soon after he created it, he had enough Facebook fans to justify getting his own URL.  As you build your digital persona, think about how everything you do will affect your “brand”.  If you do this, privacy settings will not be a concern to you.   As you constantly think about how you are perceived online, be aware of what a “responsible citizen” should be. 

Your behavior can dictate your level of personal privacy.  Your online presence should not be taken lightly.  Everything we do has a certain “filter”, which should be transferred online.  For example, we do not put our home phone numbers in e-mail signatures, so we should not do it on social media either, or consider whether you would want your institution’s name on Facebook.  Think how you can behave professionally online.  You may need an “institutional persona” as well as a personal one (you can have different signature lines for each one).   Remember also that whatever you post online lasts forever and can be viewed by potential employers, colleagues, and others, and can come back to haunt you or damage your employability prospects.  Be conscious that even if you are just voicing your personal opinions, they are being read.  You can follow this by setting up an “ego feed”–a Google Alert tracking your name, colleagues, or company.

Don Hawkins
Columnist, Information Today and CIL 2010 Blog Coordinator