Have you Spring-cleaned your online profiles?

Craft & Design

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(Image by demandaj, via Flickr)
How many separate online presences do you have right now? Do you have a blog? (More than one blog?) Do you have a personal Facebook account? A fan page? Are you on Twitter? Flickr? Pinterest? Ravelry? Others?
Whew. Chances are, if you’re online for any length of time, you’ll end up with a whole bunch of profiles in a whole bunch of places. Have you ever considered how well all these profiles coordinate with one another? Have you thought about how easy it might be for someone to navigate among them? Or why this matters?
Here are some profile-management ideas to consider.

(Image by demandaj, via Flickr)
Are you being consistent visually?
Here’s a good online housekeeping tip: a few times a year, take a look at all your online profiles and see if they make a reasonably-matched set. Are you using the same photo of you? Are you using the same username as much as possible? Do your various bios say similar things?
Keep in mind that the more consistent your profiles are, the stronger your brand looks. If someone encounters you on Facebook, and then later stumbles onto your Flickr page, ideally they should be able to recognize you easily in both places.
And here’s a good moment to talk about using a business profile vs. a personal profile. There’s plenty of debate as to which model is better. I tend to pay more attention to profiles that express a human being rather than a business. (I talked more about why this is over here.) You may prefer a business-based profile. That’s fine, as long as you’re using it consistently.
In fact, here’s a little trick I started doing recently. I established a folder in my computer, where I keep a small selection of profile photos and bios. Then, whenever I start up a new profile on a new website, I can go right to this folder to get the materials, and everything stays consistent.
(Image by A.K. Photography, via Flickr)
Which online presences are professional? Which are personal?
Chances are, you have some online presences that relate to your business, and other presences that you use for personal enjoyment. So, for example, maybe you make jewelry for a living. You have a blog and a Facebook page, plus a Flickr account, and an account on a LEGO discussion board.
Well, if your blog relates to your jewelry business, then that’s a key online presence. Your Facebook page likely is, too. But what about the LEGO board? Maybe LEGO is a personal hobby of yours, and maybe on that LEGO board, you regularly get into heated discussions. So the question is, do you want this online presence to be related back to your business?
That’s a wholly personal choice – maybe your jewelry is made from LEGO! But it’s possible that you hang out online in at least a couple places where your business brand doesn’t need to go.
Here’s where you can use the visual aspect we discussed earlier. You can use one photo, screen name and bio in profiles you want to related to your business, and a different photo, screen name, and bio in places you want to enjoy for personal use.
It’s important to understand that there’s no hiding on the internet! Anyone with good search skills would be able to connect your personal online presences with your professional ones, so you still need to be careful about what you say and share online. But it does help to draw some clear boundaries around your professional and personal spaces.
Can people connect the dots to you?
I’m guilty of this all the time: a cool new website comes out. I want to check it out, so I create a new account. And I’m more interested in seeing what the site does than in filling out my profile, so I just stick in the most basic information I’m required to. And then I forget to go back later and finish my profile.
The thing is, what if someone discovers you on Flickr, likes what you make and wants to learn more? Where will they look first for information? Your profile. Does your profile point them out to your blog? Your online store? Your Twitter page?
Remember, people can discover you anywhere you have a home online. So think about where you want them to be able to link from that point. Make sure your profiles have links to your other profiles! (And, since things change all the time, be sure to make time to go back and review all those links periodically. Maybe you’ve given up using Twitter, for example. So you’d want to remove the Twitter links from your other profiles.)
All-in-One: Consider a Google Profile
Our own Rachel Hobson wrote a wonderful how-to for setting up a Google Profile on her blog, so definitely check that out.
A Google Profile is simply a single page where you can link as many of your online presences as you like. You can also link individual posts or articles you’ve written, photos you’ve taken, and as much of your contact information as you like. Then, if someone Googles your name, this page appears at the top of the results, and people can see and link to your other homes on the web. It’s a useful companion piece to your other online presences.
If you’re already doing a bit of Spring cleaning, why not give your online profiles a nice dusting and straightening-up, too?

About the Author:
Diane Gilleland is the Editor-in-Chief of CRAFT. She also produces CraftyPod.com, a blog that geeks out on crafting and helps crafters use the web more effectively to promote their businesses.

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