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Your Digital Footprint: Know Who You Are

Those who have been around cyberspace for awhile are used to having many different accounts. You may have Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn and Twitter accounts. You may have Gmail, Hotmail and AOL email accounts. You may even have some old IM (instant messaging) accounts still hanging around too.

Know Who You AreRegardless of how many accounts you have, you probably developed them one at a time, thinking only of that one account when you completed your profile. Each account had a different audience and with each, you may have even presented a slightly different persona. You could be Bob to your friends, Robert to your business associates and just plain Rob to Twitter followers (or maybe MortorcycleRob, if you got creative).

That was all good and fine until recently. Now, widgets and plug-in applications for smart phones and other devices are helping users consolidate those accounts into one – requiring one identity for your contacts – and for you.

I recently purchased a Driod and installed feeds for Facebook, Twitter, Gmail, work email and all of my contacts. Then I synched them all and it automatically consolidated everything into one mega contact list. The results were surprising. I suddenly had a new of view the world. No longer did I have my Facebook friends, my Twitter associates and my contacts. I now had people, and when I look at someone I see all of that person: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, email, location, phone — all brought together quite nicely to show me a “whole person.”

While many of my contacts came together well, there were exceptions. In some cases I got a multiple contact listings for one person. His or her Facebook, Twitter and contact information all showed separately. What caused this? Why did some people come together easily while others required manual manipulation to consolidate?

It was that issue of personas. In most cases, the system could not reconcile that Bob Smith (Facebook), Robert Smith (LinkedIn) and MotorcycleRob (Twitter) were the same person. In analyzing the data I found there were two predominate identifiers that helped consolidate people. One was an exact match in a name; the other was an exact match in email. If the name and/or email address matched it recognized separate records as a single person.

The concept of “people” records changes the way we’ll think about people in the online world, and it changes the way other people will see you. People will no longer see your Facebook updates in one place and your Tweets in another they’ll just see you, with your entire digital footprint exposed (which is something to consider – check out this post for some tips on what you make public!). And this is going to become more and more commonplace, so prepare for it. Decide who you are and be that one person everywhere you leave your digital footprint.

Here are some tips to consider:

  • Use one name – This will make it easier for people to consolidate your records.
  • Have one main contact point – Select one personal email address you can keep forever and use that one address in all of your profiles.
  • Be one personality (you are anyway) – When you are online, behave in consistent manner.  Decide who you are and be that person (but be mindful of over-sharing).

Many promising things can and will come of this consolation of our digital footprint. The good news is that people will get to know you more intimately than ever. The bad news is people will get to know you more intimately than ever. When it comes to your digital footprint, know who you are.

Tell us – who are YOU?