Name change or game changer?

What’s in a name?  In reality, quite a lot.  In this age of branding, your name—be it for a product or for a person—is the starting point for your brand.

I’m not sure I understood this when I chose my usernames for the different social media I’m now using with greater regularity.  For example, my username on Twitter is Kaplann, my username for my wiki page is Jourwiki, my Delicious handle is Newsfangled, and my blog is, well, SkylineJour121–that’s a winner.

Turns out, I’m a mess.

When I reflect on this, I can see that part of what it represents is the uncertainty of purpose I had when I was first starting to use social media.  Were these outlets going to be my public and professional face?  Or was I going to play but still try to remain anonymous? Was I promoting myself, my class, my program?  Was I trying to create a brand while still protecting my privacy by opting for the username “Newsfangled” on several accounts?

Truth be told, I didn’t ask myself any of these questions then.  Back then, I was simply jumping in and experimenting.  But what I’ve composed is a brand that’s not very cohesive.  Nor is it a brand that’s search-engine friendly.  When was the last time you did a search for blogs on, say, Journalism 121?

Not that I’m beating myself up here.  This dilemma is a byproduct of trying out new technology, and now that I’ve been at this for a while longer, some things are becoming clearer:

  • Social media is here to stay (duh), so while trying new tools out is great and necessary, assume that your latest experiment will stick.  In other words, from the outset, assume that the new tool will be a part of your branding portfolio and choose your username accordingly.
  • Pseudonyms are cool (I rather like Newsfangled), but you add credibility and “searchability” when you use your real name for those new tools.  And chances are you’ve already made an effort to build your professional reputation.  Why not capitalize on that beyond the office? Or, if you are going to use an alias for your username for brevity (for Twitter, for example), identify yourself in your profile by your real name.
  • Do not equate name continuity across social media with sameness of purpose or content.  Think carefully about how you want to use Facebook vs. Twitter vs. YouTube vs. WordPress, even if all carry your same username.
  • In the end, the tool helps define the purpose, but the name helps define you.

Given this, I’m considering renaming my social media accounts, including this blog.  In the end, will this be merely a name change, or will it be a game changer?  I don’t know yet, but stay tuned!

UPDATE:  I’ve officially changed the name of the blog.  It still feels like a work in progress, but anything was better than the previous name.


About Nancy Kaplan-Biegel

I am the journalism program coordinator at Skyline College in San Bruno, CA, as well as the adviser to The Skyline View.

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