Participating in the world as a digital citizen is not just about being a user or producer, it is also about creating an online presence. An online presence is the way we establish our identity or represent ourselves in online communities and networks. Establishing an active and positive online presence is important because it can provide:

  • A social outlet, an education and a window on the world
  • Relationships with like-minded people
  • Networking opportunities
  • Small business opportunities
  • The opportunity to create a good impression with employers
  • Involvement in strong on and offline communities promotes happiness

* Note: Many businesses today create a strategic online presence over several platforms to increase their visibility. The use of clever marketing strategies to connect with the needs and desires of customers and clients can enhance a company’s credibility. A strong and vocal online community that associates and identifies with the stories of a particular brand is likely to bring commercial success.

What makes up a person’s online presence?
Content -
Content refers to any communication or information that is shared, tweeted, posted, blogged, filed, created and published online. It is endless, varied and framed to the individual, the forum and to the audience. Content makes up a person’s online presence.

Students can build a positive online presence in the digital community by engaging, creating and sharing something that is close to their heart, something they are passionate about or something that interests them:

  • Hobbies, projects, cooking or special interests
  • History, sport, culture and politics
  • Photographs, film and artworks
  • Music, poetry, stories and film
  • Articles, essays, comment, advice and debate

Job search and online presence

Some employers are less likely to interview a job candidate who doesn’t have an online presence. Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn grant them a window into a world outside the CV or interview. Websites and blogs provide information on a prospective employee’s :

  • Digital literacy
  • Community engagement
  • Interests and opinions
  • Proof of integrity
  • Character

It’s more than likely students are already on Facebook or Twitter, and, if so, now might be the time to review just what they put out into the world and more positively build their online presence.

Building an online presence takes time, patience and a high degree of digital literacy. A person’s online presence has a very broad reach so it is important to get it right. Successfully built, it can spread personal brand awareness, attract fans, friends and followers, generate leads and establish a reputation - for better or for worse.

Importantly, for young adults beginning the transition into the workforce, an active and positive online presence will communicate to prospective employers.

Before they begin students should:

  • Establish a goal - what should this online presence be used to achieve?
  • Explore the internet and other websites and blogs for ideas
  • Establish a plan to put those ideas into action
  • Choose a suitable platform - this should act as a hub of contact and engagement

* Note: Studying up on the trends and issues that shape their industry of interest will put students ahead of the game. Their participation in online forums and discussion will help to further their knowledge, give them credibility and may even attract the attention of employers.

Choosing a platform

Get students to check out the building platforms available. Some are free or low-cost and require little to no technical expertise to operate. By following the guidelines and using one of these platforms, they will not merely be a listing but an active and engaging online presence!

A website is a location connected to the internet that maintains one or more web pages.

Websites provide a solid online presence. They can and do contain a lot of information, links to other sites, blogs, social media profiles and other digital sites. They can be referenced and bookmarked by users.

Websites are popular for businesses, corporations, government, sporting bodies, schools, charities - you name it!

Some years ago the idea of building a website was beyond most of us. Advances in technology means that today, building an eye-catching and interesting website from scratch is something anyone with a little digital savvy can achieve. If students have the idea of promoting themselves or building their own business, today’s online-obsessed marketplace will expect to see a website.

Website building platforms

There are many platforms that enable people to build websites without knowing how to code. The creators of these platforms have programmed them so users merely have to use their mouse, type their text, insert photos and videos and ‘click’ to publish. All website building platforms are different and each have their pros and cons. The general rule of thumb is that the more powerful the platform and the more features it has, the more difficult it will be to use (but not impossible). Website building platforms provide:

  • Design templates
  • Hosting services
  • Security upgrades to ensure the site is kept running and is not hacked
  • A custom email address (can also be created using Google Apps)
  • Custom domain name (for an annual fee, or free with a premium plan)

Domain names - can also be bought through domain registrars. Once bought, the name is owned and can be transferred between website building platforms.

Drag and Drop

The easiest to use website builders are ‘drag and drop’ platforms. These are great for those starting out, don’t know how to code, or don’t have the money to spend on hiring a website designer. Or alternatively do not have access to software such as Adobe Dreamweaver. Here are a few free sites for students to get started:

  • Wix - excellent, easy-to-use and popular
  • Squarespace - the most design-oriented
  • Weebly - easy to use
  • Jimdo’s
  • GoDaddy
  • Shopify- for building an online store, has great themes and a powerful App Store to add tools.

Blogging is a good way to connect with the world to share fresh, newsy and topical information on a regular basis.

Blogs provide a forum to express opinions, engage in political and social debate, detail life’s journeys, publish travelogues and memoirs, record the progression of projects, offer advice or for self-promotion.

Posts are usually organised by date or category. Some popular blogs manage to generate an income through advertising and promotion.

Blogs however are 'public space' and care must be taken to sure that posts are acceptable to the wider community.

A blogging platform is a specific software service and management system used to publish content. Blogging platforms are usually cheaper and easier to set up than websites. There are many blogging platform options available so it is important for students to do their research.

For beginners:

  • Find a platform that is free
  • Find a platform that is easy to use (many cater to beginners)
  • Visit other blogs for ideas and note the platforms used
  • Free platforms have fewer options

For self-promotion or business, consider a more advanced platform:

  • More options
  • Greater creative control
  • The ability to customise
  • Prices will vary

Wordpress.com - one of the most widely used blogging platforms. It is free and easy to use and maintain. It allows users to integrate their blog with social media. Features include comments and polls (available without installing plug-ins).

Wordpress.org - many of the same features as the .com version but with extra customisation features. A good option for complete control over the customisation of the blog, but not easy for a beginner.

Tumblr - a microblogging social networking site to create shortform blogs. Easy to use and provides a variety of options for sharing and re-blogging content. Better for visual bloggers than writers.

Google - a free platform that provides users with an instant community and audience. Has plenty of fun features.

There are others.

For thousands of years, oral storytelling was the way many cultures passed on their stories. We carry on the tradition today - sitting around campfires, at family dinners, or the ritual turning of pages before tucking our children into bed. We also tell our stories and share information and ideas through book, song and film. In recent times the medium for sharing has stretched into the cyber world to include Digital Storytelling.

Digital stories
- are multimedia movies that combine photographs, video, sound, music, text and sometimes a narrative voice. They are simply the modern practice of something we have done since ancient times.

Digital storytelling does not abandon the skills we have always used. It still involves the steps of any writing project brainstorming, planning, creating, revising, editing, publishing, reflecting, and, importantly, critical thinking and making decisions. These are vital skills for any project or any workplace.

Benefits of digital storytelling

  • Improves technical competency
  • Provides skills for future career or study paths
  • Leads to experience with a variety of interfaces
  • Encourages exploration and expands literacy
  • Provides a platform and an audience for stories
  • Allows for feedback and discussion
  • It’s fun!

If students enjoy telling stories and sharing them with others, they should give digital storytelling a try. It’s a great way not only to share but also to receive feedback and develop skills. Digital stories can be a colourful and positive addition to their online presence.

Digital storytelling and presentation tools to play with text and images

  • Exposure - web-based
  • Steller - iOS only
  • Storehouse - Android and iOS
  • Adobe - Slate web-based and iOS
  • iOS - an Apple Inc. operating system used for mobile devices
  • Allows - for feedback and discussion
  • Android - an open-source operating system used for smartphones and tablets


  • Animoto create photo and music video stories
  • Photopeach similar to Animoto, also includes quizzes inside videos
  • VoiceThread add photos or scanned drawings, text and audio comments
Social media is the applications and websites that enable us to participate in social networking and creat content to share with one another. People are able to log in and connect any time and almost anywhere.

Most students don’t have to be encouraged to embrace social media, but familiarity with a number of social media platforms will put them at an advantage in the job market. Many jobs in journalism, marketing, advertising and publicity now demand workers capitalise on the diverse social media platforms available.

Future social media trends

  • Increasing popularity of chat and messaging platforms
  • Video and live streaming
  • Buying and selling on social platforms
  • Social media marketing

Be Aware - Everybody is watching!

Employers use social networking sites to screen job applicants. Therefore it’s more important than ever before for students to manage their online image across the different social networks they use. The bottom line is – they must be careful about what they put out there in the first place, but there are ways to limit any damage that past posts/uploads may cause.

Managing social media

By following these guidelines students will dissolve the negative impact of past social media indiscretions, and prevent any in the future.

Investigate: A Google search by name and exploration of social media sites will flush out anything that might cause embarrassment, such as incriminating photos, offensive comments or unprofessional mentions.

Eliminate: Remove or un-tag any offending photos or comments, and request that friends do the same. (Most people will understand.)

Guard: Use the privacy settings on all social media sites so they are only accessible to friends. Be careful about whose friendships are accepted on these sites.

Separate: Use a business email address for work or job searches, and a different email address for personal and social life.

Employers often use social networking sites to screen job applicants. There’s no time like the present for students to begin proper management of their social media accounts.

Get students to follow the guidelines, and be prepared for a class discussion about what they found under their name, and the steps they took to manage their accounts.

Here are a few facts on how prospective employers screen candidates. If students are going to leave a digital footprint, they should make it a good one!

Over 70% of these employers have rejected a candidate because of what they observed on social networking sites.

The top 6 reasons candidates were rejected:

1. Posted inappropriate photos or comments

2. Posted comments about drinking or using drugs

3. Posted negative comments or confidential information about their previous employer

4. Lied about their qualifications

5. Demonstrated poor communication skills

6. Discriminatory comments relating to race, religion or gender.

Over 70% of these employers hired a candidate because of what they saw about them on a social networking site.

The top 6 reasons candidates were hired:

1. Profile showed the candidate to be well rounded with a positive attitude

2. Profile showed good communication skills

3. Profile matched the qualifications on their application

4. Candidate’s personality came across as a good fit with company culture

5. Profile showed that the candidate was creative

6. Candidate had positive comments from others

With a Facebook page, a Twitter account, and maybe even a blog or a website to their name, students are well on their way to building an online presence. But how do they define their particular identity and ensure their good reputation? The following tips offer a number of ways for students to be proactive in expanding a positive online presence and using it as a selfmarketing tool.
*Remind students that maintaining their online presence will be an ongoing exercise!

Define your identity: Choose an appropriate domain name and add pictures and information that create an interest and a positive image of background, achievements, ambitions and desires.

You can create profiles on several sites: LinkedIn and industry sites are especially popular with recruiters.

Perfect the profile: If using LinkedIn or other professional sites, don’t leave it at contact information and brief schooling history but give it depth highlight skills, discuss accomplishments, interests and awards as well as up-to-date referees. Add a picture of yourself.

Regularly update: Add new content to your blog or website on a regular basis. Express your views and values and engage with followers. Positive comments from followers provide great search engine fodder!

Publish: Generate interest in yourself. Exhibit your work, articles, stories, presentations, essays or art, and provide links to these on your profile.

Monitor: Keep an eye on your website, blog and social media pages for negative comments. Address these directly and politely. Remove them if necessary.

Participate: Connect with people and educate yourself by joining groups linked to interests, work or schooling. Participate in forum discussions, ask intelligent and thoughtful questions, and add something to the conversation.

Research: Look at job adverts and industry publications to find the key words that might optimise the chance of attracting a recruiter or future employer to your site.

Track: Track your progress the number of Twitter followers, blog subscribers, or use Google Analytics to assess your website traffic. Use the information to expand your horizons or adjust your content.

Students are digital as well as global citizens. As in life, negotiating their way through these vast digital networks in a productive, positive and respectful way involves certain rules of etiquette and common sense. Although they are more than likely to be aware of responsible digital behaviours, a reminder certainly does no harm!.

Be nice an online presence is a reflection of the person and the reputation they will be known by.

Be polite ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ go a long way towards developing respectful relationships.

Be respectful treat people with respect. Being online does not give anybody the right to gossip or to say or write hurtful or harmful things.

Be discreet be careful about what is disclosed. Don’t post anything that could be compromising or reveal the identity of someone who doesn’t wish to be identified.

Be positive wherever possible in language, commentary and attitude.

Be open-minded there are so many perspectives and so much to learn.

Engage intelligently be professional. Online debate can occasionally get heated, illogical and personal. If reason and calm doesn’t work disengage! There is no point being mired in online feuds. Mud tends to stick!

Nurture your network converse, ask questions and develop relationships. Contribute regularly to discussion. Make recommendations, respond to queries and return favours.

In saying all of this, students should remember to be themselves. Being a responsible digital citizen does not mean you need to lose track of who you are. You have ideas, opinions and experiences that are valuable, and you have a voice to be heard. Just be thoughtful in the way you use that voice.

Protecting online identity

Cyber criminals are able to access a wealth of personal information online. Everyone who engages with social media, or accesses websites for shopping, etc. is vulnerable to cyber attack, even when they believe they are being cautious. Once personal information such as location, date of birth and family connections has been logged online, it can be used to hack into other accounts.

A few tips

  • Don’t put important personal information on social media profiles
  • Get familiar with the privacy settings on social media and mobile devices
  • Choose strong passwords and keep them private
  • Use multiple passwords
  • Learn to recognise spam
  • Don’t use http:// websites for payment if they don’t have an ‘s’ (‘s’ = security)
  • Keep card information offline
  • Carefully check bank accounts and statements for unusual transactions
  • Always use a firewall and make use of anti-viral software tools
  • Surf safely and navigate away from suspicious sites
  • Back up all of your information on an external drive

Identity theft warning signs

Be alert to common signs of identity theft:

  • Receiving notice of due bills for products or services not purchased
  • Receiving credit cards not applied for
  • Having credit approval denied
  • Missing mail, over-due notices for bills not received

Office of the Children’s eSafety Commissioner (Australian Government)

Provides online safety education for children and young people, as well as educational resources, advice and case studies.�www.esafety.gov.au

Youth Central Victoria Web and social safety

Tips and advice for young people on cyber safety, and what it is to be cyber-smart.


We have all experienced how easy it is to lose track of time when we are online. Sometimes students can get lost in the space beyond the screen and neglect living their real life. Where developing an online presence is important, it is more important to take a breath and step away from the computer or device to engage in the world around.

Offline presence matters

  • The most fulfilling relationships we have are from the connections we make with real people in the real world. The validation and support of friends, family and colleagues is good for our physical and emotional wellbeing.
  • Life at its best happens in the moment, when conversations are unfiltered and authentic, and laughter is spontaneous. Staring at a screen is no substitute for watching the sunset or interacting with friends.
  • Social media can be detrimental to our self-esteem. The constant stream of photographs and stories telling us of the wonderful lives and successes of other people can provoke feelings of inadequacy, envy and even depression. Power off, look at what you have, and be happy.
  • Life online is sedentary (and let’s face it, some of us tend to snack), which leads to weight gain and other health issues. Get offline and get active.
  • The online world can be one of light and noise and a barrage of opinion. Shutting down allows a little space for solitude, reflection and re-evaluation.
  • Online we are often consumers, playing games, browsing and watching videos. Being offline gives us further scope for our creativity to paint, to build, to solve problems and to express ourselves.
  • Ever heard of the old saying ‘grist for the mill’? It means to gather experience and knowledge, which is what we do when we are living our lives offline. We can then share this experience and knowledge with our online community.

Finding the balance

Life online is one of the facts of life in the world today. But our online presence benefits from the life we live engaged in the world. The trick is for students to be able to find a healthy balance, and live the best of both worlds. If they are having problems finding that balance, here are a few suggestions.

  • Start the day with no device. Spend the first hour awake relaxing over breakfast, talking to friends or family, or just enjoying the stillness of the morning.
  • Prioritise and plan the day with goals and objectives in mind. Set aside specific blocks for posting online and specific times to spend away from the internet.
  • Take regular breaks
  • Close apps when you are spending time doing other things. Put phone or device away, or hey just turn it off!
  • No need to be attached to a device 24/7. Plan time away with family or friends. Go camping, hiking, visit parks or museums, play sport the list is endless!
  • Take advantage of social media management tools that help you to manage your time online. (Hoot Suite and Buffer are just two. Google to find one that suits your needs.)

The online world can be one of light and noise and a barrage of opinion. Let students know how important it is to get offline and take some time to relax, reflect and re-evaluate. Colouring-in is not just for kids, but a great way to de-stress and self-express.

Global Digital Citizen Foundation Provides resources for educators



Colouring in for all ages is becoming a popular way to 'relax offline' and be Internet and computer free. It used 'real time' relaxation and involves little technology.

Digital self-marketing is not only about creating an online presence that will attract and impress prospective employers, clients and followers, it is also about gaining experience in proficient and imaginative use of digital technologies.

Many young people are great at using these technologies in their leisure time and with friends, without fully understanding how valuable these skills are when it comes to job or career advancement. So, to be digitally savvy is a good thing, but to be truly effective and make the most of their job opportunities, students need to work actively towards building theirdigit al toolkit, because:

  • There are few jobs or positions today that don’t use digital technologies in some way or another to their advantage
  • The competition for these positions is only going to increase
  • A wide knowledge of digital technologies opens a plethora of possibilities
  • Knowledge of these technologies will give young people leverage as they progress through their careers

An effective digital toolkit is essential to career development. With access to the internet, the latest thinking is at our fingertips. We are in an age where there is a course, an app, a program, a website, a blog or a seminar that can answer almost any question on almost anything. On the internet there are:

  • Tools to enhance learning
  • Search engines to hone content to match particular interests and needs
  • Programs and platforms to aide business and project management, collaboration and communication
  • Online communities willing to share information and offer support, advice and feedback

Students can put their digital toolkit together by asking questions, exploring the web and sitting down to work out exactly what they need to do to expand their repertoire. Those who continue to build upon their digital toolkit will enter the workforce with valuable tools that will enable them to:

  • Enhance their work skills
  • Supplement their learning and professional development
  • Expand their ideas
  • Manage projects
  • Collaborate effectively
  • Research competition and innovation
  • Improve communication skills
  • Extend their networks


With the information they have gathered throughout this module, many students will be well equipped to start a digital self-marketing plan.

There may be budding bloggers or web builders in the class who have something to say or information to share. Now is the time for them to plan and implement an active and positive online presence that moves beyond Facebook and Twitter.