How Do You Want The World To See You?
Can you Google yourself or are there too many hits to sift through to reach anything relevant? You do not have to be a celebrity to have a strong, Google-able, internet presence. Just like Google, social media looks for keywords and has a straight-forward algorithm. But it is not all about being the most liked, most searched, or most followed… sometimes it is the lack of information that makes it easier to find what you are looking for.
It is important to be strategic with what you put out there. As you will read below, there is a difference between privacy and secrecy, that you should be thoughtful of when and where you post, that there is strength in having a singular identity, and there is a need to regularly go through and make changes. In this Age Of Information, our internet presence has become an extension of ourselves, which has become just as important as how we dress and the way we speak. Employers, schools, family, friends, and strangers can all see what we do, so let us make sure we give them exactly what we want – not what they want. Here is a little guide to rebranding…
1. Secrecy Vs Privacy
Secrecy: the action of keeping something secret or the state of being kept secret.
Privacy: the state or condition of being free from being observed or disturbed by other people.
“Never forget what you are. The rest of the world will not. Wear it like armor, and it can never be used to hurt you.” – Tyrion Lannister, Game Of Thrones
That being said, there is a difference between secrecy and privacy. Not everyone needs to know every little thing about you, except for maybe your spouse and platonic soulmate. The hope is that you understand that there are things you want to a secret from the online world, like your address and phone number, and there are things you want to keep private from the internet, like things not worthy of posting or might cause problems. Because, yes, there is the freedom of speech, but not freedom from consequence. Especially when it comes to employers or school or, heck, the police, there are things that do not need to be posted and if it is, could result in a very negative consequence.
Often times, a lot can be said but very little learned. Superficial, maybe, but having a tactful quality to what you actually tell people will really help. Even those people who run “lifestyle” blogs or Instagrams are carefully crafting every single post they make. We only see a snapshot into people’s lives, so really be thoughtful with what you want your snapshot to be. Even the meme-able topic of food: Could you post your favorite dessert at a restaurant on a special occasion? Sure. Could you post a meal you made from scratch that you are really proud of? Sure. But, do you need to post every single thing you eat? No.
Further down in this article, we will talk about branding, having specific handles and hashtags, and having an overall aesthetic. In this, we can talk about honing your posts to fit all of those things. This will help tremendously when it comes to what you present to the world, acknowledging that not everything needs to be put on the internet.
2. A Little Paranoia Goes A Long Way – Stay Protected
I am sorry to say that there are very bad people out there and now those people can use the internet to continue being bad. Stalkers, abusers, thieves, etcetera, can all use the internet to do their dirty work. Stalkers and abusers can follow your live posts to track you down, while thieves and other awful people can use your live posts to know that you are not home and your place is a free target. You can always post pictures and tag places when you are home safe.
Instead of updating on the spot, thinking about everyone you are with and those who might want to join you, think about those you do not want to know where you are. Even if they are not on the extreme list above, what about an ex? Or that bitch from work? Or what about that creepy guy who likes all your pictures at three am? Having them show up is the last thing you need.
And if it is a vacation or trip where you are gone for multiple days, there are a few things you can do, like get security cameras, lock valuables in a safe, or ask a close friend or family member to check up on your place. There is a reason people used to “house sit” and Nest cameras and the like are surprisingly affordable.
3. Future Applications (School, Internships, Work)
As I mentioned, freedom of speech is not freedom from consequence. Though many websites give you freedom of speech, that does not stop private companies and institutions from reacting however they please. Employers can fire you; schools can expel you; and worst of all, the police can get involved. So, whatever it is you were going to post… is it really worth it?
More often than not, in the heat of the moment, we get all high and mighty, feeling completely dignified in our position, and do not question what we have to say. But if you are writing paragraph after paragraph with tons of profanity and you feel enraged with your heart beating like crazy, is this something you want to become permanent? Because here is the thing: even if you deleted it a minute later, it could have been screen-shotted and spread within that sixty seconds. And if you were to say these things in person, it could have the same effect – a punch in the face, a refusal of service, being fired from your job, or expelled from school.
So, is it really worth it to risk what is important to you? Do you want one little thing that happened to ruin your future? Just take a minute to breathe and try to imagine the snowball effect… try to think about any possible negative repercussion, no matter how crazy.
4. What Is In A Name?
Okay, okay! Now to the fun part! Now to the actual “branding” concept.
Having one, recognizable name, handle, and the hashtag is the start of everything!
First, you need to decide if you are going to use your full name, some sort of abbreviation or nickname, or a pen name. Just like a social media hashtag, using one name for all your stuff will generate hits through the search algorithm. I am an author who uses my full name, so I use my full name on everything. A search of Molly Lynn Robinson will yield all my stuff, instead of Molly L. Robinson in one place, Molly Robinson in another, M.L. Robinson in another…. Instead of it being scattered, have it all be uniformed.
Second, you need to decide your handle. Now, you can use your name for your handle, but if you are not a well-known celebrity, then it might be more useful to do something creative and unique. It is important that this handle not only encompasses your brand – your aesthetic, but that it encompasses what you want to be known for. It is also important that this handle, or a very close variant, is used for every social media platform. Again, a search for “TheMousyGirl” will bring up all of my accounts, rather than Molly Lynn Robinson on Facebook, NightRogueCleo on Instagram, and a Tumblr blog with SteelRosesAndBurntWings as the URL.
Last, you need to decide on one to three hashtags you will use on almost every single post. I highly suggest either your name or handle plus one or two more that is the definition of your aesthetic. This way your page and posts will flood these hashtags and people can discover or find you easily. I use my full name and handle as a hashtag when it is anything involving my publications, I use #RealLifeBelle on selfies, #BatCat for my Sphynx, and #AcademicRomance for anything related to that aesthetic and lifestyle.
This way you have a clear, identifiable, well-rounded presence online. People can Google one name or phrase and find everything that you are allowing into the public eye.
5. Your Personal Style
If we were writing a novel, we would have our title and main characters. So, now it is time for the plot and details!
You may come across an aesthetic blog or account and think “Wow, that is beautiful, why can’t mine look like that?” Well, it can. It may be a little hard at first, but once you understand how your personal style translates to online, it will become much easier. Be whoever you want to be, present yourself in whatever aesthetic calls to you. Don’t be afraid!
Wearing the same sort of things, taking pictures in very similar places, and having your own pattern to posts will get you that much closer to a professional-looking social media account. Which, brings me to the additional point of planning ahead. It can be a little difficult to have this kind of foresight but keeping yourself a few posts ahead will help to not only keep your posts organized but aesthetically pleasing. This is a perfect opportunity to understand what is post-able, what you want your snapshot to be, and to make sure things stay within your brand.
6. The Purge
Though deleting an account and making a new one might be a good idea once, other than that, you can have the same effect by doing a purge. I purge my accounts twice a year – on New Year’s Eve and the day before my birthday. I take the time to scroll all the way down on my Instagram, look at my archive on Tumblr, and through all my photo albums on Facebook. When I find something that is embarrassing, does not Spark Joy, or is not to my taste anymore, I just delete it. It is that simple!
This is something that can be done after a breakup, when moving to a new place, or at the start of a new school year. Or, really, anytime that you feel like you are taking the next step in your life, starting that next chapter. It is also helpful if you feel a natural change in your aesthetic – whether it is changing from Dark Academia to Light, or from everyday posts to a more specific genre like fashion.
Another great way to “fix” your accounts and delete things that either do not matter enough to be online or that you really should be kept private. (Instagram stories, Snapchat, and non-related Tumblr blogs are a good replacement for posting every single thing.) Again, though deleting an account and starting over may be a good choice once, maybe twice, a purge is way better because it leaves the things that do Spark Joy and show your amazing progression over time.
7. Have Fun!
Last but certainly not least, have fun! This is supposed to be a creative, helpful, and sometimes exciting way to have an online extension of yourself. Try not to focus on the numbers and data, rather posting things that make you happy. When you are authentic and confident and having fun, more people will be drawn in. Just as if you were making a physical photo album or scrapbook, you are trying to show what you love in life to people who care.
Commit To Every Post With Purpose
The internet does not have to be a place of polar opposites – either you share everything or you do not have an account. It also does not have to be a scary place where you are at risk, rather, the internet can be a safe and fun environment to learn, grow, and share. Comment below and other tips or tricks to help build your brand!
Author | English Major | #RealLifeBelle | Academic Romance | "This was no accident, this was a therapeutic chain of events." | www.TheMousyGirl.com