7.0 Chapter 7: Owning Your Online Presence

Who are you, anyway? In the digital world, just as in the physical one, you are partly who others say you are.

This is why you need to be at least one—and preferably the most prominent—of the voices talking about you. You can’t allow others to define who you are, or control the way you are perceived. This is especially true today for people in the public eye, but the more we do online the more it’ll be true for the rest of us, too.

We’re moving into new territory here. We’ve previously discussed the value of joining online conversations. Now I want to recognize that those conversations may, in some respects, be about you and your ideas. You need to know what people may be saying about you or your work. And you need to respond when necessary, especially when you need to clarify or correct what someone has said.

Being public in this increasingly public world means participating. It means recognizing that what you do online influences the way others see you. This goes under many names: reputation, brand, influence and the like. For our purposes I’ll call it “brand,” but I’m not using the word in a commercial or marketing sense; rather, it’s about how you appear to the world beyond your family and closest friends, and what you can do to be seen as you truly are.

In this chapter, we’ll discuss why, and how, you should consider becoming what amounts to a publisher in your own right. I can almost see your eyebrows rising as you read this, but don’t worry. Remember, this is the Digital Age. You don’t have to buy printing presses, or put up big broadcast towers, or employ anyone. Publishing today is what we all do. The word carries historical freight, but it’s now an everyday act.

What I’m getting at, however, is a crucial point: To the extent that it’s possible to do so, you should control the reference point for people who want to know more about you and your ideas. We’ll look at how you can create, own and operate that online touchpoint—call it a home base, above and beyond the blogging or tweeting you might do elsewhere—for who you are, and what you do. As always, look for much more detail about specific tools and techniques at the Mediactive website.

Again, the basics:

  1. Whether you create your own media or not, you need to join the conversation when people are talking about you or your work.
  2. Creating media and joining conversations will get you only part of the way. You also need to create your own online home base, one that you truly control.

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