Digital Identity (work in progress!)

The notion of Digital Identity is one which I had not paid much attention to until last week, when @heloukee, my lecturer in Social Technologies, really brought home how important it can be when trying to gain an edge in the employment market.

Admittedly, taking control of my online identity has not been as high on my agenda as it really should be.  I have been aware for some time that companies and professionals use search engines such as Google to find prospective people to work for them or collaborate with, yet I have not endeavoured to ensure that when somebody searches my name I appear at the top, or as close as possible. When searching my name I was surprised and a little miffed to find I did not feature at all in the first 10 pages. Unfortunately ‘Greg Jackson’ seems to be an incredibly popular name. The No.1 Greg Jackson according to Google is a UFC Mixed Martial Arts trainer, someone who might prove difficult to knock off the top spot, not just because he’s well ‘ard, but also because of the enormous popularity of UFC!

Even when adding the words ‘production’ or ‘music’ on the end of my name I didn’t show up until the 6th page.

This has to change. To stand more chance of gaining exposure and acknowledgement for my work I intend on using this blog, my newly set up twitter account and other innovative social media technologies I am surely to be introduced to over the coming months.

Although my own personal digital identity is in need of some attention, I am not a complete newbie when it comes to using social technologies to build an online presence. Since late 2009 I have using the moniker, Glass Ankle, for my song-writing and original music project. Over the years Glass Ankle has grown from my initial solo experimentations into a fully fledged live band which is garnering larger audiences and interest locally and nationally, and it is fair to say that this transition would not have happened without social media.

In the beginning there was MySpace. There has been lots written about the demise of the first large social network, but the main reasons I lost interest in it were:

  • Clunky design features which often lead to many hideous looking backgrounds and pages.
  • Confusing user interface
  • Message spammers
  • It’s failure to adapt – When Facebook came on the scene it exposed MySpace’s flaws and lack of innovation when it came to actually connecting and networking with people who might like our music.

The band still has a MySpace page, but it is very rarely updated apart from when we have upcoming gigs just in case someone happens to stumble upon it looking for info.

The online platforms that I currently use:

Facebook (http://on.fb.me/SCm10l)

Now, I am not at all a fan of Facebook. I despise how intrusive it can be, and find it scary how easily people can access the personal data of others so easily.

Despite this, FB has proved very helpful for building a fan base for the band. The Glass Ankle FB page has become a place for us to communicate directly with the people who genuinely like our music. It has allowed us to build a personal relationship with our fans, who are free to comment on our posts, and submit their own thoughts.

FB has also allowed me to find and contact radio stations, record labels, reviewers and promoters very easily and thus really helped in guaranteeing our music will not go unnoticed. I now have a network of individuals and groups I can rely on for support with our releases and live gigs.

I try to contribute something everyday to the Facebook page, be it a new event, song, photo, review or website, just to keep peoples interest. There are so many musicians and bands out there, people are spoilt for choice so I constantly feel the need to show to our fans that we are busy creating and gigging in order to keep their attention. There is a fine line though: I try not to bombard people or post completely trivial things as there is nothing more annoying than someone constantly appearing in your news feed with their silly drivel. The “_ more sleeps ‘til …..”  count-down posts some people insist on really get my goat, particularly if it is something really great, like a month-long trip around South America! It’s not fair! Plus it’s incredibly self-indulgent; I can tolerate someone sharing their exciting news every now and again, but not every day up until and beyond the event, grrr!

Ok, rant over. I promise to try to keep ranting to a minimum in this blog, however cathartic it might be sometimes… I don’t want to be a hypocrite!

Twitter (@GlassAnkleBand)

Slowly but surely our Twitter page has taken off. Until a month ago I rarely used Twitter since syncing our account to our Facebook page had meant whatever was posted in FB would automatically appear in our Twitter feed.

After growing increasingly tired and paranoid of Facebook I found myself deviating to Twitter as the main platform for broadcasting band announcements and our general thoughts. I find it easier and quicker to post to Twitter, plus the character limit forces you to be concise.

Since discovering how to use hashtags (#) correctly I have noticed we have gained more followers.

It’s great, not just for the more significant announcements we were posting to FB, but also for sharing our thoughts and feelings on the progress with our recording sessions, gigs or current affairs or even day trips out and about.

I suppose there is a certain style to the posts that could be considered a “branding”. They are designed to be interesting, entertaining and give insight into our activities and personalities, whilst also try to retain some sort of professionalism!

Soundcloud (http://soundcloud.com/glass-ankle)

A truly brilliant website for sharing audio for the following reasons:

  • Allows you to upload very high quality audio samples which can be downloaded without any loss of quality if you have opted to make them downloadable.
  • Waveform view allows you to see the shape of the sound which could come in handy for mixing
  • The embeddable widgets look great and work fantastically on what ever site you choose to embed them on.
  • There is a large and vibrant community which encourages sharing music and commenting on each others work, allowing networks and groups to be built.
  • Offers comprehensive stats for insight into who is playing your sounds around the world.

At present we are using the band Soundcloud page to upload “teaser” snippets of songs which are due to be released on our new E.P. which is due for release early next year. This way we can build our fans anticipation and gain feedback.

YouTube and Vimeo

We have video channels on both of these websites. I believe it is essential to have a YouTube account as it is often the first place many people, including myself, go to when checking out new music for the first time.

Vimeo does not have as much traffic as YouTube, however the things it has in it’s favour are:

  • Superior video quality- When I get round to embedding video on our official website I will be using the vimeo videos for this reason.
  • A more “mature” community – The videos on Vimeo tend to have been uploaded by professional/serious filmakers and artists, so you don’t have to do as much sifting through rubbish before you find a real gem.

Let work commence…

I will now commence building my own Digital Identity and online presence using the experience I have gained from managing Glass Ankle, and the tools and techniques @heloukee will be introducing us too over the coming months. I’ll let you know how it goes!

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3 Responses to Digital Identity (work in progress!)

  1. Helen says:

    Fascinating post – you’ve obviously got a very good grasp of the nuances of each space (as you are already an active user), but it’s an interesting challenge with regards your personal identity/name. In reality, Glass Ankle IS you – but then I suppose as other musicians come on board then then identity shifts, becoming shared? Would this be a fair assessment or not?

    It’s tricky because you’re obviously proud of your work with Glass Ankle (rightly so) and therefore I’m guessing you want to be known for that – more so than Greg Jackson – although as your ‘self’ (i.e. real name) you might be more able to demonstrate what you do personally, without it getting lost in the online presence of the band.

    Really interesting stuff – looking forward to seeing how it all pans out 🙂

  2. Pingback: Week 7 – Set Post 2 « Rob Kelly Sound

  3. antmin says:

    Hi Greg, read your blogs over the past week, one point I would like to make is the one about your football analogy. Having stood on the terraces myself through the 1980’s to the early 1990’s, for me football sold out in 1992 when TV became its God, at the same time tickets prices doubled overnight. Money is ruing football, no longer a working class sport, however what I would say in its defence, football grounds used to be a violent hostile environment, breeding grounds for hooligans and racists.
    English football has come a long way since, some for the better, some for the worst, but you do need to strike a balance. The Bundesliga for example, encourages real fans, families and friends to watch matches together, making it affordable for everyone, with grounds sold out all over Germany, not only one of the cheapest leagues in Europe, but one of the highest for quality European football. The Premier League now, is and has been driving away the real fans, clubs now see fans as customers, and the real passionate fans who care about their club, have now been replaced by glory hunters and corporates.
    Oh by the way, some of my mates support Stockport County and they hate Macclesfield Town with a passion, so don’t wear your Macc scarf around Marple.

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