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Building an Online Presence


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Revised 2016 for a talk I delivered to higher ed professionals and academics about how to build their online identity. Including are best practices, general tips, issues about privacy, freedom of speech, professional integrity, open access, and more.

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Building an Online Presence

  1. 1. Building an Online Presence by Melissa De Witte, Division of Social Sciences February 5, 2016
  2. 2. You are out there! • Your online presence already exists, whether you like it or not
  3. 3. Where does your online presence begin? • Search is the first step to any fact finding mission. • Who is Googling you? Students, conference organizers, colleagues
  4. 4. When did you last Google yourself? • Try it, but -
  5. 5. Think like the Internet • What do you hope to see when you Google someone? What do you think someone hopes to see when they Google you? • Build your online presence with positive search results • High traffic websites get higher rankings in Google • This is why taking advantage of social media helps) • Write op-eds for high traffic websites (for example, The Conversation, pitch blogs like Washington Post’s MonkeyCage) • 74-94% of searchers never look past the second page in Google • Be consistent. Google penalizes inactive accounts.
  6. 6. But by building your online presence • You can actively change how the world sees you.
  7. 7. It goes beyond the search • Taking control of your online identity opens opportunity. It enables you to: • promote your research • ensure your information is up to date • open opportunity for collaboration • build campus community • stay connected with industry peers • be media/ press accessible • even lead you to jobs
  8. 8. Getting started: barriers • What building an online presence requires is what most academics/graduate students, don’t have: • Time • Mental energy • Resources • In addition, academics are presented with additional barriers: • Being on social media is not considered legitimate scholarly output • Privacy issues • Trepidations, fear • It’s not a part of the culture (yet)
  9. 9. #CautionaryTales
  10. 10. #CautionaryTales • Steven Salaita, a University of Illinois Professor, sent out this message: and other Tweets, you can read the recap in full in the New York Times:
  11. 11. #CautionaryTales • “What we cannot and will not tolerate at the University of Illinois are personal and disrespectful words or actions that demean and abuse either viewpoints themselves or those who express them.” You can read about it on the Chancellor’s blog: 5906?count=1
  12. 12. The medium is not the message • Don’t blame social media, problems can arise from email and even journal articles too.
  13. 13. Some Golden Rules • Remember social media is a community • Be respectful of other members, even if they are rude to you and you don’t agree with their opinion. • Play nice. Don’t say anything over social media that you would not say to a student’s face or feel comfortable being a headline in the New York Times • Don’t belittle someone’s thoughts. • Contribute to it more than you take or ask from it. • Maintain professional integrity. • Share only what you feel comfortable sharing, and by all means keep certain media personal and other media public.
  14. 14. Ways you can build your online presence • Your own website • Social Media: • LinkedIn • Twitter • Social Media for academics***: • (final submitted version: • ResearchGate • eScholarship - UC’s open access repository • Google Scholar: • and click on “My Citations” link to get started)
  15. 15. *** A social networking site is not an open access repository • As an academic in the UC, please review the UC’s Office of Scholarly Communication’s FAQs about and Research Gate: • It’s your choice, and there is a trade off and risk with For a really good recap of the debate, I recommend reading this: • is about aligning scholars’ interests, posting drafts of papers for feedback, receive updates via a newsfeed of new uploads, provides robust metrics
  16. 16. Consider your media
  17. 17. Align your goals • Before you get started, you need to ask yourself what you hope to achieve and who you want to reach. The types of questions you need to consider include: • Who is your audience • What are your goals • And ultimately, how much time, mental energy, and resources do you have to invest in your online presence?
  18. 18. Figuring out what’s right for you • Depending on your goals and how much time/energy/resources you have, select what digital media will work best for you. • Don’t feel like you have to do them all, and don’t feel like you have to do them at all once.
  19. 19. Think like the internet [refer to earlier slide] Sorry, not sorry
  20. 20. Website Tools • Having your own website with a URL that is your name is one of the best things for your online presence • I have • Use website content management systems, such as: • WordPress (through UCSC - or you can build independently) • Google Sites • Squarespace • Joomla (a little more complex and robust) • Register your domain name through a hosting site • GoDaddy (approx $14.99 per year, various fees $7-$25) • I registered and built my site using WordPress (approx $50 per year) – independently from UCSC • Optional, hire outside web help • Depending on your tax filing status (1099), this can be tax-deductible, disclaimer: check with an accountant
  21. 21. Website examples through UCSC • These were done by a designer: • • • • • Done by faculty or a grad: • • • • • • • •
  22. 22. Digital media dos • Do have a clear, high resolution picture that you use through out. • You don’t need a photo taken by a professional - it just has to be professional looking. Read my tips for DIY Headshots: • Do be consistent with your name. Middle Name? Middle Initial? Hyphenated? Title? Whatever it is, stick to ONE for everything. • Do post regularly! • Remember, Google penalizes inactive accounts. • Use technology to help you. RSS feeds, and if you are on social media, there are a range of programs (Buffer, Tweetdeck, Hootsuite) that can help you plan your messaging. • Do have an awesome “about” statement! • Craft a short one for Twitter (160 characters) and slightly longer for LinkedIn. • Do stick to laymen terms and be concise. • This is clever: • Do consider your media and what works for each platform.
  23. 23. Your about statement • Your social media and website profiles will require an “about me” statement or section. • This is your “elevator pitch” and is your opportunity to show your niche, strengths, and what makes you unique. • It needs to be written simply, and in a way everyone can understand. • Note: this is not about oversimplifying your research or dumbing down your work. It’s about making it relevant to a wider audience.
  24. 24. If anything… • Keep your campus listing up to date and make it as robust as it can be. • Take advance of the campus directory fields, including: • publications • Presentations • bio • Keep it updated with a high resolution as possible photo
  25. 25. Finally • Be patient. • Take time throughout. • Don’t expect overnight success.
  26. 26. Resources • I list websites I like, blogs I read, articles and presentations I write related to digital media on my website: • Questions? Email me: