Wednesday, May 7, 2008

GUEST BLOGGER: Using Tribe Voices to establish and consolidate your online identity

Before reading the next paragraph, open up a new browser window or tab and Google your name. What do you see? Perhaps a record of a concert or sports event you were in a few years ago, some similarly-named actor's IMDB entry, or an embarrassing blog of yours from middle school? Take a closer look. Do any of the entries on the first few pages really represent you? In an age when increasing value is placed on internet communication and presence, it's useful to spend time establishing a representation of yourself online. Just like you wouldn't wear dress pants and a pizza-stained t-shirt to an interview, it makes little sense to let net presence fall by the wayside. A bit of time spent establishing this presence can go a long way.

To be more specific, here are three reasons why this should be a priority:
  1. You can control what others see about you. If a future employer, family member, or other individual searches for you online, you want to know exactly what they'll be seeing. If you direct them to your personal homepage, they'll stop there, rather than potentially observing incriminating Facebook photos, an old article you wrote for a high school newspaper, or your recent posts on an internet bulletin board. You're able to portray yourself exactly as you'd like to be seen, publicly.
  2. You can connect with a wider community. Once you're online, people all over the world can interact with your page. Whether you use this advantage for discussing political opinions, finding competition for your favorite PlayStation game, or showing off pictures of your adorable cat, greater accessibility means more meaningful interaction.
  3. You can tie up your 'loose ends' across the internet. If you're particularly proud of a blog of yours, your Flickr photos, and your self-starring YouTube videos, why not make it easy for everyone to find your content in the same place? Link your different identities across the Web with one main page.
Why this post, right now? With last week's release of the Tribe Voices web application, there's been no better time to establish or consolidate your online identity, your home on the Web. With this software, you can easily create a functional and aesthetically-pleasing site for yourself that is easy to maintain. If you haven't set up a Tribe Voices page for yourself yet, get started. The intuitive and convenient walkthroughs and help menus will get you started in a snap.

Once you're set up, here a few tips which can help establish your net presence:
  • Name your site your real name. This is step #1 of making everything come together online. It's not an ego thing, but an issue of practicality: If you call your site your name, that's the first bit of your site that will show up on Google. Drop a cutesy name for one that gets to the point quickly, or potential visitors will go somewhere else.
  • Blog regularly. If you build up an archive of posts with Tribe Voices' easy-to-use blogging integration, visitors will realize that you're invested in your site and that what they see in front of them is not only current, but established.
  • Link freely. Use the external link options to point to your photos, academic work, or school. Just make sure that you're okay with every potential visitor following each link.
  • Use multimedia. Although simple is best in this sort of environment, engaging media, especially if its yours, will help tell others about you in a way that works. Consider starting up a small podcast or video blog to connect in a way that text alone cannot.
  • Read up on search engine optimization (SEO). Search engine optimization, a multi-million dollar industry, is the science of improving the volume and quality of traffic your website receives. It's a pretty technical topic, but worth a little bit of further reading. Take a look at Wayne Smallman's Blah, Blah! Technology blog for some beginner articles.
Hopefully this little bit of advice and encouragement will help with the extremely rewarding process of establishing your internet identity. Visit my personal site at Most importantly, though, check out my Tribe Voices homepage, as it's an example of what can be done in less than an hour with this vibrant and robust new tool.

Get started with Tribe Voices!

posted by K. Andrew DeSoto, '09

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