Monday, 27 June 2011

Thing 3: your personal brand

Now, here's a tricky one. I think I'm a bit hard to pin down online (maybe in person too?) because I feel like I have two separate identities: poet and librarian. Plus lots of other supplementary ones as well. The poet in me is not much of an online networker, but on Twitter (my main online 'home') I wear my librarian hat, my parent hat, my Lewes resident hat, my Archers fan hat and my random idiot hat (the Archers hat is particularly snazzy). Obviously everybody except the most tedious monomaniac has various interests and facets to their personality; so what does it mean to talk about a consistent online brand, let alone expressing 'core values'?

I have never used my full name on Twitter or when blogging because it's an unusual name and I don't necessarily want what I say online to be linked back to my workplace. Even though I do take care not to slag off my job or my colleagues! But I do have a nickname, and variants of it, that I have used everywhere online since the late 1990s. It's not very imaginative - just a derivation of mistyping 'Rachel' all the time - but it has stuck and some of my 'real-life' friends use it too. So it's a pretty consistent and findable moniker I guess. As my professional activities cross over more and more with my online activities, it's possible I will start using my real name again, but I'm not sure yet.

Lately I have used a real picture of myself on Twitter, so people can recognise me at conferences, tweet-ups etc. And if it pops up in other places as well, that's less to do with a desire for consistency that because it's the only picture of myself that I like...

Professional/personal identity
My tweets are a mixture of personal and work-related, but usually missing anything that would identify where I work or who I work with (see above). My library has a separate Twitter account, which I also run, but I see that account as a way to represent the library and network with people of interest to our institute as a whole, rather than discussing specific aspects of my own role, eg cataloguing. Or the Archers. I don't know if this split completely works, but hope that my personal mixed-bag approach and the fact that I am generally friendly and fairly amusing, makes me a good person to interact with...

Visual brand
Not very good at this, I suspect. Looking back at the other blogs I've had, there wasn't much visual consistency, although I tend to favour soft colours and fairly simple designs. One blog was entirely pink for a while, which was a mistake. But basically I am fickle - so I will go off and think about what I can do to develop more of a memorable style. (Blogger doesn't exactly help.)

I still don't think I know what my 'core values' are, although I'm fairly confident that my online writing/interacting style reflects 'me'. When I'm online I want to discover, learn, chat, make people laugh and form personal and professional links that can translate into the non-virtual world.

The Google verdict
In my writing life I obviously want to get my (real) name out there as much as possible. The top Google result for my name is for my book on Amazon, which is ideal. Of the remaining 9 results on the first page, 3 are related to my professional role, 2 to writing activities, 2 are people-search pages, and 2 are links to profiles on social networking sites. One of which is not me! 'Archel' relates mostly to Archel Road in London. And if I enter 'Archelina' I get some Twitter results plus an unrelated World of Warcraft character...

I think this is all fine, as I don't want to be TOO visible online outside my chosen networks. Except as a best-selling poet of course :)


  1. I found this post really interesting to read - your brand as an approachable, reflective professional comes across very clearly.

    I'm interested to know why you are concerned about your online profiles being linked to your workplace? And also why you prefer to keep your "writing life" separate? Do you find it easier to keep different aspects of your life separated? Are there any disadvantages to keeping them separate?

    As you'll know from my post (I wrote Thing 3), I tend to prefer to keep things as one unified personality, but I'm always interested to hear reasons for keeping them separate.

  2. Thanks Jo!

    I think the fear of my online presence being linked to my workplace is partly just superstition left over from the early days of the internet when any kind of faffing about online was seen as a bit suspect and was best done in secret. There's also an aspect of not wanting coworkers, bosses etc to read details of my personal life. But I'm relatively judicious these days so maybe I will reconsider...

    And I suppose my writing life is separate because I'm worried about my (so far pretty non-existent) reputation as a serious poet being diluted by association with sweary nonsense about The Archers!