So what is a digital footprint? According to Webopedia, “This [digital footprint] is information transmitted online, such as forum registration, e-mails and attachments,
uploading videos or digital images and any other form of transmission
of information — all of which leaves traces of personal information
about yourself available to others online.” Other popular terms for
this is one’s “online identity” or the elements that can make or break
your “personal brand.”
So, what is the big deal about developing a “personal brand”? As
long as I’m safe on my social networking sites and don’t post lewd
pictures or talk carelessly about topics that job interviewers would
find objectionable, I’m ok, right? No, it’s really quite a bit more.
Montoya says, ” Personal branding is a strategic process – it is about
intentionally taking control of how others perceive you and managing
those perceptions strategically to help you achieve your goals.” It is
marketing Y.O.U. by putting your best foot forward.
“One of the most basic online tools for branding is that of
researcher profiles, which can serve as a first point of contact and a
convenient hub that connects scientific works.” (Scientific Marketplace)
Marketing sounds a battle-cry for scientists to communicate their
body of research more effectively and competition in the academic arena
demands scientists pay attention to promoting their public persona.
Having a researcher id which is current and complete is essential
because institutions and funding agencies make their decisions based on
the researcher’s CV and reputation can be won or lost depending on what
the researcher’s online presence and profile reveal.
Marketing includes many activities that we already do as a regular
part of our professional lives; the trick is leveraging those activities
to reflect the best of us. Sharing our presentations on Slideshare or Vivmeo,
for example, is one aspect of our online identity, as is facilitating
open access to versions of your academic articles. Marc Kuchner says
that branding and relationship building are the two key ingredients for
scientists marketing themselves. Marketing oneself, Kuchner cautions,
is not just self-promotion; it is “trying to figure out what other
people want or need” and then go about showing how what you are doing
can meet those wants and needs.
In a post on September 16, 2013, Kuchner talks about the growing role
of Linked-In and Facebook Groups for Scientists. These are groups of
professionals often with varying amounts of “proof” as to the
professional and scientific standing of anyone wishing to join. The
problem, Kuchner says, is that no index of these professional groups
exist and professionals generally locate the groups through
serendipitous networking with colleagues or by harvesting the group
names off other professionals profiles.
Another avenue is scientific blogging. Aggregators like Research Blogging () provide opportunities to have your thoughts about peer-reviewed research in your area to reach a larger audience.
Ideas on how to enhance your online identity:
- Cross-link your profiles so that you present one united identity to the world.
- Keep your profile current. Make it a habit to update your
experience, presentations, publications and honors on a regular basis.
- Review your privacy settings. Social networking sites often update
their policies and what you thought was private may no longer be.
- Create a profile on Academia.edu, a social networking site focused on those in academia
- Maintain your LinkedIn profile even if you aren’t looking for a
job. Because LinkedIn is so popular, your LinkedIn profiles will likely
float close to the surface when you are searched on Google.
- Blog or Tweet about your past research articles which you have made
open access. Melissa Terras found her article downloads sharply
increasing when she followed this technique.
- Participate constructively in online forums. Online is not the place
to vent feelings or frustrations. Sarcasm is often mistaken for
something much more personal and hurtful.
For Further Exploration and Insight:1. Google yourself and explore what your digital footprint is today.
Try the search in a few other search engines as well. Do you have
cleanup to do?
2.Explore one or more of the tools and/or sites mentioned in this
article. Where would you fit in? What about your users? Would it be
advantageous for them?
Selected Readings:Eke, Helen Nneka. (2012). “Creating a digital footprint as a means of optimizing the personal branding of librarians in the digital society,” Webology; Dec2012, Vol. 9 Issue 2, pp1-12 http://www.webology.org/2012/v9n2/a100.html
Fenner, Martin(2012). “One-Click Science Marketing,” Nature Materials,11:5,pp261-263
How to Grow Your Twitter Following: An infographic with lots of tips for increasing your impact.
Interview with Marc Kuchner, “The m word,” Nature Materials, 11(5) – pp264 – 265Kuchner, Marc. Marketing for Scientists: How to Shine in Tough Times, Island Press, 2011.
Kuchner’s blog: http://marketingforscientists.com/
Melissa Terras’ Blog, Is Blogging and Tweeting about Research Papers Worth It? The Verdict, April 3, 2012
Montoya, P. (2002a). The brand called you. Part One – What is personal branding. Retrieved May 21, 2012, from http://www.petermontoya.com/pdfs/tbcy-chapter1.pdf
Montoya, P. (2002b). The personal branding phenomenon. London: Personal Branding Press.
“The Scientific Marketplace,”(2012) Nature Materials,11:5,p259
Year for Productivity Session 20: Following Our Digital Footprints - Personal Knowledge Management for Academia & Librarians