I’ve been writing online for a while now, and when I quote or mention people in stories, I like to link their names to a public site where readers can go to learn more about them when I can. It gives readers a way to see what they’re about, and it gives the people I’m quoting visibility they appreciate.
Today I realized that about as long as I’ve been doing this, I’ve been more or less guessing which of a growing assortment of public pages associated with just one person is the best one to link to for each story — when I miss a chance to ask, that is. I go through a process to make the pick, and it usually depends on the context of the story, but I’ve never stopped to check it.
The answers, I realized, do more than provide a check on my own process (I’m not too far off). They say a little bit about which sites users of two top social media sites trust as their best ambassadors.
- Personal websites were a top pick, not surprisingly, as users who bother to have them have the most control.
- Another top pick was Twitter, both because it’s up-to-the-minute current and considered a place where a person’s brand comes out strongest.
- LinkedIn was another top pick, particularly when the context of a story mention was professional. After all, it’s designed to be a great recruiting tool.
- Facebook was not a favorite. Though the site has pushed users to be more public in their posts, many still consider it a closed, networked site, and treat it accordingly.
- About.me, a social media portal designed to be a kind of collective front door to a person’s online homes, was mentioned a few times. It’s popular, but not that popular. Not just yet.
- Context matters. Different mentions sometimes call for different links. My big lesson from those exchanges: I and other writers should take care NOT to miss the chance to ask people what links they prefer I use.