With the boom of social media and the reality of being increasingly connected, I found myself wondering if there was an easier way to manage my online profile. Since I started this journey nearly a year ago (March 2010 I believe) after attending a training seminar from @HumsResearcher, I’ve set up this website, managed my own blog, signed up to academia.edu, mendeley and linked in as well as posting updates on twitter.
So with all that, what next? Admittedly I may have gone overboard with signing up to several social networking sites in comparison to other people who are happy with managing one online resource. Part of my enthusiasm comes down to my growing awareness of just how huge a resource web 2.0 is becoming as well as good old curiosity – can these digital resources really help my research profile?
For me, signing up to different sites started off as an experiment to see just what was out there and if these online resources can actually do something for me. Given that PhD students generally do a lot of stuff for other people, I found it intriguing that maybe, just maybe, this could be something that would have a direct impact on me. Not my students, not my reading pile, not my marking pile, not my emails/notes/meetings/things-to-do pile, but me, myself and I.
Fast forward nearly one year later and I’m facing a new decision…to Facebook or not to Facebook? For me, Facebook (FB) is – and remains – my private space, where the line between work and life is deliberately drawn. I like this division because I’m one who needs their own space. Compartmentalising…yes, which, for me, makes it easier to manage the different areas of my life. Generally speaking, work is work – my teenage cousins don’t necessarily need to know how I’m theorising the interactive aspects of language as much as my students don’t need to know where I checked in for dinner last night. It’s about managing my identities and what I want to convey to particular audiences.
However a lot of my friends are postgraduate students and I started posting links to my blog entries on my FB wall as a way of sharing my experiences being a PhD student. Then I started thinking about the other, more distant contacts that I’ve made – the ones on Twitter and on LinkedIn – and wondered how they could easily receive updates of my blog without actually being a FB friend. I didn’t want this particular group to be part of my personal circle and I discovered that I needed to create a space for my professional contacts. And so, I decided to take the plunge and set up a Facebook page!
While FB is social networking site used by millions for private use, there is an increasing number of businesses, groups and individuals who are using it as a platform to promote themselves – their products, their services and their research. I wondered if having a page could help raise my online profile by re-directing my professional contacts who are already using FB. It took a while to suss out the privacy settings and re-direct the apps, but eventually I got there and lo and behold, I have a Facebook page that I can use professionally which is completely separate from my profile. It will take a bit of time to promote and get going so we’ll see in a few months whether having one is worth it.