Managing Multiple Online Identities (Podcamp Ohio)

As anyone who follows me on twitter knows, today I attended PodCamp Ohio. PodCamps are “usually free BarCamp-style community UnConferences for new media enthusiasts and professionals including bloggers, podcasters, YouTubers, social networkers, and anyone curious about new media.”

The first session I attended was “Managing Multiple Online Identities”, by Daniel Johnson Jr.. To start off the session, we went around the room and introduced ourselves, and shared what we wanted to get out of the session. This really set the tone for this most interactive of the sessions I attended. I hadn’t been sure what the backgrounds of the other attendees would be, and this gave me some good background. The first person to introduce herself was Lara Kretler, who’d just visited my blog and commented a few days ago!

My own interest in the session was the fact that I do consider myself to have two distinct brands online: my running self and my tech self. Two blogs, two twitter accounts.

The presenter gave us a little background on himself, I thought it was great that he commutes 60 miles one way from Cincy to Dayton, and therefore “has plenty of time to consume new media”. I was doing about 95 miles one way from Columbus to Dayton, so I knew exactly what he meant. I do miss my audiobooks..

As I mentioned, the session was very interactive. After a brief overview of the definitions of marketing vs PR vs advertising and branding, we had a discussion on the personal brand. In this room of early adopters, we discussed strategies about snapping up screen names on new services to ensure the integrity of the brand, versus only signing up for services you would be actively engaging with. (with the announcement today that the “Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has decided to open up top-level domains to most any suffix we can imagine“, the challenges of retaining a firm hold on a specific word/brand may get a lot harder). I think it’s a personal ‘brand strategy’ decision that individuals must make.

We talked a bit about eliminating old brands or labels, and one individual pointed out that sometimes having a stale account was really just more time-consuming than it was worth. That wasn’t anything I’d really considered before. Thinking about ROI does help to drive home the fact that we really are branding and marketing ourselves online, and it may be worth figuring out the best use of our efforts.

Daniel shared some of his own techniques for managing these various elements. For each service he joins, he uses an email account specifically associated with that service: {servicename}@{domainname}. I thought that was a neat way to assess where traffic is coming from. When I signed up for utterz, I started receiving spammy messages right away, and it soured me on the service immediately. He also showed how he used Netvibes to have a dashboard for multiple twitter accounts. (A funny “small world” moment: he showed a screen capture of his Netvibes page, and some guy in the audience said “that’s my wife!”.) He also mentioned twhirl and digsby. Hurrah!

I will admit that I think I wanted a bit more of a philosophical discussion on why people would have and maintain multiple identities, and how to remain authentic while creating what is essentially a fragmented brand. But I suppose that is something that each ‘personal brand advocate’ needs to figure out for himself.

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