[Video] Why You Need to Understand and Own Your Digital Footprint
Do you know what your digital footprint is? This is a topic I had the pleasure of discussing with Dr. Ai Zhang, Associate Professor of Communications for Stockton University, Facebook Show Live Host of “Classroom Without Walls” and Social Media Pedagogy Consultant.
We start our discussion by defining what a digital footprint is and the impact it can have not only in our daily lives but also in our careers. Dr. Ai identifies a footprint as a “personal ID, much like a passport.” Without it, we can’t go anywhere when it comes to online spaces. But with them, we are able to tell our stories instead of letting others do it for us.
Your Digital Footprint is Real
You can either allow what is posted by others to be what others see of you, or you can get out in front by creating content that reflects what you want others to think of you and the work you do.
Dr. Ai and I discuss the power of your smartphone. There is no need to purchase any expensive equipment. Your iPhone or Android device is everything you need to take pictures, shoot short video clips, make memes, and post your ideas on any or all social channels.
Our conversation then looks forward to how we can build our own digital footprint. Dr. Ai starts with, “Understand your why.” She poses the question, “What is your end goal for having a digital footprint?” This is important to consider when posting or creating content online.
Before posting online, however, Dr. Ai and I both agree that it’s important to not get overwhelmed by the plethora of social media platforms. “Choose one and slowly add other platforms,” suggests Dr. Ai. Choose strategically and slowly build up. But most importantly, “Just get started!”
One of These Things is Not Like the Other
Each social platform has a different rhythm and audience. First, know thyself and jump all in with the platform that fits your messaging and how you like to communicate. Never feel compelled to be on every site.
If Twitter isn’t your thing, then stay away from Twitter. You aren’t going to gain anything by having a profile on a social network that you don’t stay actively involved with. What’s most important is that you are consistent in when and what you post and how you engage your followers.
Content is Key to Owning Your Story
Creating a narrative is also crucial as you are more present online. Dr. Ai has always followed the 80/20 rule, where she creates content for 80 percent and shares other content for the remaining 20 percent.
However, Dr. Ai also mentions a flipped formula where 20 percent is spent on creating content, and 80 percent is dedicated to marketing that content. Whichever route you take, either formula pushes you to create content, promote it, and therefore have more control over how your story is told or shared online.
Our discussion of what we create and share ultimately led us to address the fact that your life offline can impact your online presence or reputation. We need to be cautious of what we do in our personal lives and be mindful of what can end up online. “We as educators need to walk the talk,” Dr. Ai urges. “Nothing is private anymore.”
In this mobile, global, connected age we live in, it is worth considering what you want your digital footprint to be. Do you want to be known for blended learning or curriculum development or integrating G-Suite Apps into the ELA classroom? Maybe you just want to share your experiences in hopes they may be helpful to others.
Whatever your endgame is, create content that showcases your knowledge and expertise—content that positions you as an authority (or a learner alongside the reader/viewer). By taking the reins and owning your digital footprint, you have control over your own story and the stories told about the ideas and projects you care about.
Owning your digital footprint is also a great way to join in on important conversations and make life-changing connections with others around the world. You just never know what doors this might open.