Time to consider your personal brand and your online presence. I’m not sure that I would view myself as a ‘brand’. I think a more helpful word would be ‘persona’. Thing 3 encourages us to reflect on our online presence including considering our name, photograph, professional vs personal identity and our visual identity/brand. An easy way to do this is by an Internet search. I have done this several times before (for I am slightly vain!) and because I’ve always been interested to see what’s ‘out there’ about me.
I searched for Alyson Tyler using a variety of search engines. First I used Everyclick (which is powered by Yahoo! and donates money to your chosen charity every time you search), but I didn’t appear on the first page of results – my Twitter account appears half way down the second page. Using DuckDuckGo my Twitter account comes 6th, and one of my slideshare presentations comes in at the bottom of the first page. Dogoogle is much better – I come first! It lists my Twitter account, slideshare, library blog, LinkedIn account. As you may have guessed from that search engine’s name it’s based on Google, but also supports dog charities. Using Ixquick (“the world’s most private search engine”), I came a long way down the first page, and only my LinkedIn profile was picked up. Finally I used Google. Although it listed various online presences of mine first in the results (same ones as Dogoogle), it still couldn’t resist asking ‘Did you mean alison tyler?’ No, I didn’t! I spelt my name correctly thank you. On all the search engines later pages brought up various presentations I’ve done, articles written, references to my on other websites, and a few things from a former brief career in publishing.
I had to do this searching at home because I knew the results would be NSFW (Not Safe For Work). Do you want to know who does come up first or amongst my results? A woman called Alison Tyler (note different spelling) who is described as “a trollop with a laptop”, a prolific writer of ‘adult’ fiction, and other words that might set your filters on red alert! Some search engines automatically return images alongside the text of each result – this is useful in some cases, but not if you’re searching for me and are sat in an open plan office.
I also experimented with different search terms. Alyson CyMAL mainly brought up my library blog, whereas Alyson Aberystwyth brought up my yoga persona. This is interesting because I do have a double life (not in the erotic industry I assure you!). I am a qualified yoga teacher and teach yoga in Aberystwyth. If people are searching for my yoga classes, I need them to be able to find information about them easily.
So, presenting myself online I have to overcome most search engines’ desire to change my name and compete with a high profile ‘adult’ Alison, and I have to have both a library brand and a yoga brand.
I think both of my personas are generally quite well branded as ‘me’. In terms of my library brand, my Twitter account, library blog, and slideshare are all professionally presented and I tend to use the name ‘libalyson’. During the recent CILIP Wales conference two people said hello to me having worked out who I was from my Twitter profile picture.
The one site where my two professional brands overlap is LinkedIn. Like the Green Stone Librarian I’m not entirely sure what I’m doing on there and I have not activiely used it to make connections with people I already know. I’m hoping future Things will help me figure out why I’m on there and what I can do to increase my use of it or its usefulness to me.
I mainly have professional personas online, as opposed to personal ones as I’m not on Facebook currently. The one online area where I do have a more personal presence is Goodreads which I’ve recently joined. I have a hidden delicious account for my Internet bookmarks, although I plan to create a public version of that one day, and I have both a personal and a work Netvibes accounts, although the latter is also still hidden.
Finally, THIS blog is quite different. It’s slightly less ‘serious’ and I chose a WordPress theme that reflected some things about me (I’m female, green and would like to be a bit funky).
On reflecting on this week’s activity, I have looked at my picture on my library blog and slideshare and am going to change those [update – done the blog one]. I also experimented with the gravatar in WordPress and got it to work, finally, with a picture of me. I don’t believe every picture of me has to be the same one -it’s nice to have a bit of variety – but I need to change a couple of older ones or ones where you can’t see my face very clearly.
All in all, I’m not ashamed, embarrassed or afraid of my online ‘brand/s’. Phew!