Creating a Positive Digital Footprint

Digital citizenship requires some wisdom. As you know, you must protect your yourself and your computer from unscrupulous people. (See page 289.) But you must also protect your reputation. In an increasingly interconnected world, actions you take online today can affect you far into the future. Prospective colleges, employers, and even acquaintances may be able to view your past comments, photos, videos, and activities. As you move forward into adulthood, the choices you make also begin to establish an online personality—a personal “brand.” Choose wisely, and you will make a positive digital footprint. Here are some ways to do just that.

Be diverse.

Being active on many different social-media platforms will spread your exposure. Beyond Twitter and Facebook, you could start your own blog (see page 278), contribute to a wiki (see page 279), or post videos and audio podcasts (see page 510) on sites like YouTube and Podomatic. (To help manage multiple presences, you can use a service like HootSuite or TweetDeck. Or you can choose one spot to focus your posts and use an app to crosspost to other locations. Facebook, Twitter, and WordPress all have apps for this purpose, for example.)

Be creative.

Social media allow you to showcase your creativity. Consider publishing schoolwork or other projects you are proud of. Create a digital résumé that features your talents and qualifications. Post a one-minute video along with your college application if the university allows it.

Be articulate.

The way you communicate on social media will establish your online reputation. Strive to write clear messages that avoid offensive or hurtful language and are free of embarrassing spelling and grammar errors. This is particularly important when you are addressing a public audience.

Be friendly and social.

Simply being nice can go a long way toward building a positive digital presence. Compliment your friends on social networks. Write constructive comments on other people’s blogs and promote those people’s efforts. Seek out groups that share your interests, and just be friendly in general.

Be yourself.

Artificial words and actions are easy to spot. Use social media to broadcast your true personality. People respond positively to genuineness.


Your Turn How would you describe your online brand? How could you improve it?