Sunday, 18 June 2017

How to build an academic brand online


How to build an academic brand online

Paula Thompson
Paula Thompson
Lee Bessette
Lee Bessette
If you Google your own name, are you happy with what the search
results show about you and your work? If not, you may want to take steps
to improve your online presence to better reflect your academic brand,
which articulates your unique expertise and affects the way you are
perceived both online and in the real world.

In a recent TAA webinar entitled, “Designing Your Online Presence to
Communicate Your Academic Brand,” veteran higher ed blogger Lee
Skallerup Bessette and academic branding coach Paula Thompson, both of Academic Coaching & Writing discussed ways to create or enhance your online presence to promote yourself and your work.

Discover and Design Your Brand
According to Thompson, the first step in promoting yourself is to
discover and design your academic brand so that you will know what you
want to accomplish with your online presence. Discovering your brand
involves clarifying your scholarly identity, your unique strengths, and
your contributions to your field. A well-designed academic brand guides
the choice of online platforms you will select to articulate the story
you want to tell about yourself and your scholarship.

Select Your Online Platforms
Using the internet to communicate your brand to the world is
advantageous because it increases visibility for your work and brings
all the facets of your career—publishing, teaching, consulting,
etc.—together in one place.

Once you decide on your academic brand, explore the various online
platforms to find those that will work best for you. To select the best
platforms to convey your brand, determine your audience and do some
research to determine which platforms will help you reach that target

Skallerup Bessette and Thompson shared the pros and cons of the most commonly used online platforms:

Your own website: Personal websites give you
complete control over your content, design, and layout and can increase
the visibility of your work by improving search engine optimization
(SEO), but there are costs associated with buying a domain name, hosting
services, and the professional help that may be needed in setting up
the website. In addition, personal websites typically require a big time
commitment up front to get the site up and running.
A social networking site specifically for the academic world, allows users to share documents such as your articles,
abstracts, syllabi, and CV. It is also SEO-friendly and even provides
reports so you can see who has searched for your work or profile. A
disadvantage is that it is not designed for interaction or dialogue with

This social networking platform is geared towards professionals. A
profile on LinkedIn is like a living CV that can include samples of your
work, and a LinkedIn presence is especially good for expanding your
professional network outside of academia. It also offers moderated
interest groups where you can join discussions on various topics.
However, it is not geared toward academic dialogue in particular.

Twitter is a social networking site that allows short communications of
140 characters or less. An advantage of Twitter is that it connects you
to others in your field to promote your research, and Twitter chats can
extend into other online platforms or into real life. Twitter is also
useful for connecting to people outside of academia. The disadvantage of
Twitter is that it can be a big time sink if you aren’t careful. If you
choose to use Twitter, keep in mind that the Twitter community tends to
value conversation over just broadcasting your work.

Facebook and Google+:
These social networking sites are useful for long-term interactions.
With these sites you can create closed academic groups for more informal
discussions, resource sharing, and support. However, there are some
privacy issues based on the display of personal data and many people are
concerned about the fact that all social media platforms make money
from selling user data and displaying advertisements.

Your own blog: Another option for online academic branding is to start your own blog using software such as Blogger, WordPress, or Tumblr.
Blogs are advantageous because they can be a more casual space to
create a dialogue with other scholars, which may lead to invitations to
collaborate. Blogging regularly can also be a way to create a habit of
writing to improve productivity, but blog posts usually don’t “count” in
academic terms.

Other platforms and tools: Other options include Flickr and Instagram, Pinterest, Reddit, Storify, SlideShare, and YouTube.
The usefulness of these options may depend on your discipline; for
example visual artists would find the photography-sharing site Instagram
especially helpful for posting their work.

Set Up for Easy Maintenance
The next step in building your academic brand online is doing the
work to create profiles and/or your own website or blog. It is important
to take the time to set things up exactly the way you want them in the
beginning so that ongoing updates and maintenance are streamlined for
ease of use and efficiency.

Schedule Time for Brand Maintenance
Once your online presence is up and running, make it a priority to
schedule small chunks of time for brand maintenance; for example,
updating your CV on your profile or writing a new entry for
your blog. Be sure to check with your publishers before posting any
copyrighted work, and keep a high level of professionalism by being
collegial in your online interactions.

If you need help, consider hiring an academic branding coach to help
you articulate your brand, select the best online platforms for your
goals, and launch your academic brand online.

Academic Coaching & Writing will be offering their
webinar, “Designing Your Online Presence to Communicate Your Academic
Brand”, again on March 3, 2016. Register here

How to build an academic brand online

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