Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Web Presence and Branding

I am way too tickled when something like this happens: in this screen capture, my account is listed among others as an example of how to use Extendr. It's completely at random, and I'm surprised that the user population is such that I could come up twice in an evening, refreshing the screen over and over again. I think I saw Neil Gaiman's name flit by but was too quick on the refresh to check him out, and a Google search yields nothing.

I'd never heard of Extendr until Monday, when I attended the MIMA Summit '09. This service was mentioned in a lecture on branding and Web presence. It is similar to Google Profiles in that it is one page of all your relevant links, but there are differences. Google Profiles features a bio, a contact page, and a keen little personalized map of where you've lived around the world. On the other hand, it has absolutely no customization in its layout. On the third hand, there is no paid option, either: it's always free.

Extendr lets you tweak your font and background colors somewhat; it has a very clean layout and it groups your links into useful categories. It helpfully suggests how to sort your links (between Communication and Social, where would you put Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn?), and it has a fun little "tour" feature where you're escorted through a gallery of a user's links, but with the free account there's limited customization, no bio, no map or any other frills. The paid account is how you make it look very nice and more personalized.

But I use both Google Profiles and Extendr. There is no reason not to avail yourself of free promotion if you want to establish a Web presence. I used to want to because I was young and attention-seeking; then I didn't because I became private and a little paranoid; now that I'm trying to bolster my writing career, I'm back to flagging down attention. With that, however, comes a need to clean up my image: there are no drunken disaster pictures of me on Facebook, and I'm trying to cut down on my swearing in my blogs. Trying to be more upbeat, in fact. It's a good practice in general but it's necessary when you're presenting yourself on the world stage.

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