Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Online branding and #marketingyourselfonline

And so to Thing 3 of CPD23; only a week in and already starting to come to tasks a few days after they were posted; a sign of things to come?! The topic of online branding is interesting for me, as I only (fairly) recently began to develop a professional online identity (the 'dogeared librarian' of the crudely-knocked-up-in-Paint banner at the top of this page). Prior to settling on this, I toyed with a few other approaches and pseudonyms, as well as using my own name. Among concepts I rejected were something around orangutans (influenced quite strongly by Discworld, but also because I am red-haired with long arms and a pot-belly) and something punning on 'page' (my surname).

I chose the 'dogeared' brand because I'm a dog person (which places me in diametric opposition to the stereotypical library spinster with an army of cats) and can sometimes feel somewhat battered and well-thumbed! That said, the 'brand' is still very much 'in development', with no particular colour scheme, the aforementioned placeholder header, little integration of seperate sites (save tweeting of blog updates, and the blog widget showing twitter updates), and poor consistency of approach/style even within a single site. The whole thing is a public work-in-progress; if I felt anyone was looking or cared I'd probably sort it out a lot more quickly!

I made the decision to include my own name on 'dogeared librarian' sites, but still sometimes succumb to feeling like the label grants me anonymity. Do I say things online I wouldn't out loud? No. But I wouldn't necessarily share everything I say out loud with everyone I meet. I do compartmentalise my life; sometimes to an insane amount. However, I do allow aspects of the personal sphere to bleed into the professional and vice-versa, as the poor people at bars who've been bored into submission about the value of libraries can attest! I'm aware that there is a line, but generally not until I cross it. My facebook is personal, and pretty much unmoderated these days; twitter doesn't include any non-library friends (yet). Generally speaking, I take the view which @llordllama conveniently laid out earlier this week:

The whole 'pseudonymous identity' thing is reinforced by the use of photos of dogs (generally in glasses) for profile pictures. There's a few reasons I don't use a photograph: I dislike the way I look (another work-in-progress!) and think dogs are generally nicer to look at, in particular my own dog, Jabba. In the future. I may take the @niko_nees approach (using a photo of both of us with Jabba foregrounded) for Twitter and this blog in the future; for now, I should at least get around to replacing the header with a picture of my own hound! [Edit: replaced quick-and-dirty header with slower,still-dirty header following this post].

So to the 'google-thyself' task (I used Bing as well as Google via Chrome Incognito): oh. Several eminent Thomas Pages, pretty much all dead. There is one guy with a technical-support background who has a stub website on, an author of a 'bio-terror novel' and a guy who works for HP. But not me. Not me for 4 pages on Bing. Google is slightly better; a twitter result towards the tail of the second page. 'Thomas Page librarian' and 'Thomas Page library' bring up no results in the first page or so. I'm a nobody L

Searching pseudonyms (I have a couple of online identities; a symptom of growing up online I guess), my personal identity again doesn't link to me straightaway (but as I took it from a book I guess it wouldn't). 'Dogeared librarian', though... links right back here! First 3 links are all for this blog, then the Blogger account, then an RSS feed which another site has generated for some reason. Unfortunately, what doesn't appear is my twitter account. I shortened my handle to @dogearedlib because I read somewhere that long handles correlated to less re-tweets etc. Maybe I should add the full version of the name to the bio field? (EDIT: never added the blog URL to my twitter profile; corrected that now!)

On the plus side, there's little out there which is incriminating. Can't say for sure with Facebook (though I would need to check using a non-friend's account), but I think pretty much everything about me online is innocuous... (portentous rumble of thunder outside as I wrote that; pathetic fallacy in action).

So, there's some branding still to do, some tidying up of online profiles (and a linkedin profile to populate; signed up last week and haven't dealt with it since - though this article (mildly NSFW) causes me some concern...). But no damage limitation needed just at the moment... (no thunder this time!).


On a related topic, I attended the New Professionals' Conference (#NPC2011) at the beginning of last week (but it already feels like an age ago; I've not even been that busy over the intervening period - growing old...), during which I attended a workshop called '#marketingyourselfonline'. I remember it being a lively, useful session and thought I would share some salient points from it. So I went back to my notes. Oh dear. I've gone back to not being able to read my own handwriting, something which was last a problem about 10 years ago. I clearly need to work on my IRL note-taking (or possibly use a computer at these things). Still, lets give it a go!

Consider the audience for your social media output; who are you writing for? Will what you are writing for one group alienate another? Current and future employers; peers and colleagues; friends; the rest of the world: all of these groups should be considered when spontaneously writing a tweet waiting for the bus. Pretty much everything you say online, whether considered or in the spur of the moment, is stored for posterity.

Use a good-quality photograph of yourself (good clarity, not too artful) for professional purposes, ideally a head-and-shoulders profile shot. Many people work better with faces than names (myself included), and a photograph will mean your professionally-presented profile will make a greater impact on readers.

Linkedin operates like an online business card, as well as providing a legitimate presence for your CV online; as such, it is a valuable, professional way to network online. It also features special interest groups and can provide useful contacts for your current role - so it's not just about finding new, better jobs! It is best to consider this a business tool, and omit friends from your contacts, as well as considering what you say, and how you say it, particularly carefully in order to make the best first impression. There were at least two recruitment-sector people in the workshop, and they attested to its usefulness in their line of work.

Twitter mixes professional and personal for many people; nonetheless, tweet with caution as potentially anyone can access this (unless you set your profile to private and no-one follows you; but in that case, why tweet anyway!). Interesting tweets can be retweeted far outside your original, core followers, possibly even reaching non-networked individuals. Facebook leaves you at the mercy of friends tagging moments of inebriated indecent exposure (No? Just me then...), and Myspace is... was going to laugh at Myspace being dead, but actually though I've not used it for 5 years, and deleted my profile once, there's still a lingering presence. So there's that.

Overall, just use your common sense and never slander people, even if you think the Matthew Davidson will never find out you called him a silly nincompoop on your blog.J



  1. Re the facebook thing, there is a way (if you can navigate the frankly ridiculous number of choices) of checking what a non-friend can see. Somewhere in the privacy settings. I was uber-paranoid, and made sure that nothing shows except my name and photo! Some interesting points there to consider - I'm still brewing my 'brand' post...

  2. (I have a couple of online identities; a symptom of growing up online I guess) - glad I'm not the only one - I'm still working through some of the branding questions, especially around pseudonimity at the moment.

  3. Hi Tom,

    Is that your dog in the bow tie? I want to see Jabba!
    When I finally get around to doing Thing 2 I am possibly going to remove the photo of myself and the dog as it seems a bit silly!
    Aneesa x