A Digital Footprint Strategy

This week in class we were asked to consider the state of our digital presence and develop ideas and plans that we could implement to improve or expand our digital footprint. There are many things to consider when thinking about crafting an online presence and it gets more complicated if you are hoping to be active in social networks that are seemingly different. I have an educational professional persona as an instructional designer/educational technologist and adjunct professor via my workplace. I’m also working toward building a reputation as an accomplished photographer and digital artist as a “side project”. I’ll need to be sure that I keep those areas separate to a degree, but I think the strategies I’ve come up with could be useful in either professional setting.

I’ve heard it said that no plan survives it’s first encounter with the enemy. My enemy in this case is procrastination and simply not implementing the ideas I have for building a solid digital footprint for my future career goals. I think the more ambitious a plan becomes, the more complicated, so I’ve tried to identify ten strategies that I can realistically integrate into action in the next year as I design and tweak my online presence in both of my professional endeavors.

1. Create a strategy and make sure it includes having fun ( Joel, 2009 )

It’s Ok to try out digital channels, but it doesn’t take very long to sketch out a set of priorities, values or objectives for my work that I want to publish online. So why not sketch that out first and match the type of content channels and networks to my strategy. Where are my strengths as a a creator? Video, images, audio or writing? What do I enjoy doing? what do I want people to see that reflects who I am? If I fall into the trap of this activity being something I “have to do” rather than something I like to do, I will quickly abandon it for something more fun. I need to keep to those things I love to do, to talk about, to learn more about.

2. Create “sticky” content that can be reused on many platforms (Heath & Heath, 2008)

Stories and examples are more effective and memorable than slogans or dry statistics. I can develop my storytelling skills to produce relevant and useful content in a way that is easy for others to consume and share. Take advantage of social medial sharing apps and plugins on blogs and learn how to use them well. Remix content – a blog post I did a month ago can be repurposed into a Slideshare presentation this month. A series of related blog posts can become the framework for an e-book.

3. Be Active on Social Media at Events (Joel, 2009)

Sharing what I see and hear at educational conferences and events is a great strategy for building the kind of digital footprint I can be comfortable with. I can use social media platforms to market my  presentations or broadcast the fact that I’m in a session and finding good information for my tribe of followers.

4. Create a Web Presence with good SEO  (Lowenthal and Dunlap, 2012)

Along with building a professional looking website, I plan to make sure that I am taking advantage of basic search engine optimization (SEO) practices that will help people find my work on all platforms I choose to use. Carefully choosing key words and phrases, using good headlines, tagging and using complete profiles on public accounts are all SEO tactics that help my content get found.

5. Think Like an Entrepreneur (Seely Brown, 2008)

As an entrepreneurial learner, I can pull information and resources as I need them from the Internet and make connections with others in my networks.  An entrepreneurial creator, in turn, shares out information and collaborates in an effort to help others and become a relevant and reliable information resource. As I do this, I become someone that others will know, like and trust to provide accurate and useful information to them. I need to be always mindful of the question “Is this content I am sending to my networks helpful and relevant to the people who will see it?”

6. Be Consistent (Joel, 2009.) (Lowenthal and Dunlap, 2012)

 Create a schedule that includes days of the week I will post, when I am active on platforms and a running list of topics I can create content around. I can set up a Google alert for areas of interest and set aside time to scan my Hootsuite dashboard for interesting posts and links.  I need to make this schedule realistic and manageable as it is easy to go down rabbit holes and spend several hours researching resources.

7. Pay Attention to My Profiles  (Lowenthal and Dunlap, 2012)

Each major platform has user account profiles that should be as complete as possible. I can increase SEO of myself and my work through words and phrases used in these profiles. I can also tweak my user profile and settings to ensure privacy when I need it and gain focus in terms of how, when and what I want the platform to publish and present.

8. Remember to Be Human (Posner, 2011)  (Davis, 2009)

Social media, email and many other Internet applications leave a digital trace and what gets posted most often cannot be taken back or deleted. My goal for using the social Web should be to get to know other people, share resources, have fun, and leave the Internet a nicer, richer place than I found it. I can’t control who sees my Tweets, blog posts or comments, so I truly don’t know who is following me or who might stumble across my disparaging remarks about someone’s beloved city, state or favorite watering hole.  I should keep my interactions human, social and as positive as possible and I can do this without compromising my values or beliefs.

9. Share with open license when possible (Creative Commons, n.d.)

I support the Creative Commons (CC) principle of creating open resources that provide access to research, education and culture on the Internet. CC licenses give everyone a simple, standardized way to keep their copyright while allowing certain uses of their work — a “some rights reserved” approach to copyright — which makes their creative, educational, and scientific content instantly more compatible and sharable with the full potential of the internet.  I plan to use CC licenses where appropriate whenever I can.

10. Think accessibility (WebAIM, 2015)

If my content is delivered in a way that is inaccessible or hard to download and view, I’m shutting out an important segment of my potential audience. I can start with simple techniques such as including alt tags on images, providing accessible Word or pdf documents (or alternative options) and using presentation tools that are considered web accessible for users with disabilities.



Creative Commons: Keep the internet creative, free and open. (n.d.). Retrieved July 5, 2015 from http://creativecommons.org/about

Davis, L. (2009, January 25). The unforeseen consequences of the social web. [Web log post] Retrieved July 2, 2015 from http://readwrite.com/2009/01/25/social_web_unforeseen_consequences

Heath, C. & Heath, D. (2008) Made to stick: Why some ideas survive and others die. New York, New York: Random House Inc.

Joel, M. ( 2009, March 5). How to build your digital footprint in 8 easy steps. [Web log post]. Retrieved July 7, 2015 from http://www.twistimage.com/blog/archives/how-to-build-your-digital-footprint-in-8-easy-steps/

Lowenthal, P. & Dunlap, J. (2012, June 6). Intentional Web Presence: 10 SEO strategies every academic needs to know. Retrieved July 6 from http://www.educause.edu/ero/article/intentional-web-presence-10-seo-strategies-every-academic-needs-know

Posner, M. (2011, February 14). Creating your web presence: A primer for academics. Retrieved July 6, 2015 from http://chronicle.com/blogs/profhacker/creating-your-web-presence-a-primer-for-academics/30458

Seely Brown, J., Adler, R. Minds on fire: Open education, the long tail, and learning 2.0,” Educause Review (2008): pg. 19, Retrieved July 8, 2015 at  https://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ERM0811.pdf

Taub, A. (2012, June 7). 5 key things needed to improve your digital identity. Retrieved July 1, 2015 from http://www.forbes.com/sites/alextaub/2012/06/07/5-key-things-needed-to-improve-your-digital-identity/

WebAIM (2015) Introduction to web accessibility. Retrieved July 6, 2015 from http://webaim.org/intro/