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How (and Why) to Maintain Several Online Identities

several identities How (and Why) to Maintain Several Online IdentitiesOk, before you start calling me a spammer or anything like that, I’ll say there may be totally legit reasons why you would want to keep several online identities, for example:

  • You may want to separate business life from your personal life (really having your husband/wife and your clients on same Facebook account may be tedious);
  • You don’t want your partners and clients to know about your other projects (why would I want the SEO world to know that I own a creepy celebrity blog on blogspot and promote it on Myspace… and no, you don’t want to see that Myspace page!).

You know me as Ann Smarty, that’s my SEO pseudonym, and if you search this name on Google you will see only my professional profiles, professional comments and professional articles. But my SEO business is only part of my Internet life and I don’t want you to know (trust me, you don’t want to know that either:)) what stuff I stumble from my “private” StumbleUpon account and what comments I leave (or used to leave) on fellow Myspace profiles.

OK, I guess now you are intrigued to know that but that’s not the point.

The point is that if you want to live several online lives, that’s totally OK and here are some tools for that (yes, there are tools for that either!)

Create several FireFox profiles:

Imagine you can run several FireFox profiles simultaneously and be logged in to various profiles there at a time (again, this is not (only) for spamming). For example: you have one for stumbling professional sites and one for other fun stuff you don’t want people to know you like it.

I did a detailed post on how to do create several FireFox profiles previously and here’s a quick recap:

  1. Exit FireFox;
  2. (Windows) Go: “Start” button => “Run” => Type “firefox.exe -ProfileManager” => “OK” button;
  3. Click “Create” in a profile manager and choose the name for your new profile, then click “Start FireFox”;
  4. Repeat steps 1-3 to create as many profiles as you want;
  5. Done! Now each time you want to switch to another profile or change the default profile, repeat steps 1-2 and choose the one you want.

firefox profile How (and Why) to Maintain Several Online Identities

  • Install this sweet FireFox extension to quickly switch between profiles.
  • Now save different sets of social media profiles on different profiles.

Quick tip: I name my FireFox profile same as my social media moniker I want this profile for.

Use multiprotocol instant messaging application

If you have several IMs installed or even various accounts on each one for various groups of your friends, you can connect them all in one handy utility.

DigsBy is by far my favorite such application because it connects so many IMs and social networks that you can hardly think of any suggested feature for it. Find inside:

  • IMs: GTalk, AIM, Yahoo! Messenger, Facebook chat;
  • Email notifications: Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail, AOL mail;
  • Social networks: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace.

My favorite features of the app are:

  • For each social network add as many accounts as you want;
  • Sort Gtalk (and other) contacts into groups (!);
  • Set tracking for any GTalk buddy: e.g. get notified when some person signs in or changes the status message;
  • Manage multiple conversations with tabbed conversation windows;
  • Set your Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn status right from Digsby.

digsby How (and Why) to Maintain Several Online Identities

Use some extra tools to make your parallel lives easier:

  • This script makes it easy to switch between multiple Gmail accounts. It is pretty fast and can make my life much easier.
  • Use temporal email address to sign up: most sites require an email address to sign up. If you do not care about their updates, just use any temporal address for quicker registration;
  • I thought of adding a few tips on IP switching but then thought I’d look like a complete spammer in that case. So I’ll just stop here, hope I managed to do that before you thought I was a jerk and just left this site for good.

Post image by SideLong

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 How (and Why) to Maintain Several Online Identities
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  1. 37 Responses to “How (and Why) to Maintain Several Online Identities”

  2. Ann,

    you have been busy 2nd great post that i have read today and i agree that the several online identities is a smart future-proof solution. If you search for my full name there is a promotional comment i made when i was uni working for a pub/nightclub….

    I agree that you dont want clients to see what other projects you are working on, i usually just log in an out or run multiple browsers, your profile solution is a nice smart way to make this easier.

    By David on May 7, 2009

  3. Sadly, you seem to have a more interesting double life than I do. As a result, I guess I don’t have to keep mine all as apart as you so, but even just maintaining two Twitter accounts is tough. There is just so much one has time for.

    The issue of IP switching (or cloaking) is an interesting one, and worth addressing. This is especially true for those people who act as social media consultants and maintain multiple client accounts at social networks, etc.

    By David Leonhardt on May 7, 2009

  4. Ann,

    Great tips about for example wanting to keep your personal and professional worlds separate online.

    For example my myspace is kind of setup as a skydiver kind of “crazy guy” website I don’t necessarily want my clients to see (which is why I have it set to private). On the other hand over at facebook my personal and professional worlds are colliding. I have friends I went to high school with adding me every day and there is a lot of personal stuff going on at facebook but then I have people from the SEO social media world looking me up and adding me there. I don’t particularly care for this scenario which is why your case here makes more than complete sense.

    By Gerald Weber on May 7, 2009

  5. Good tips! There’s other legitimate reasons too – those hired to write in a blog, forum or other place that do so not as themselves but as a “hired keyboard” separate from their own identity.

    By Jan on May 7, 2009

  6. @Jan That is sort of what I was hinting at, and it might well be worth a follow-up post just on that angle, too.

    By David Leonhardt on May 8, 2009

  7. Hey Ann! I have seriously been looking for an article like this and it is awesome! Excellent resources and you have been busy!

    What you addressed here is actually very important for us who are trying to maintain and develop social media accounts for clients. We don’t want them mixed in with our own stuff.

    This post was excellent and very necessary…. and no… we don’t think you are a jerk ;) I actually LOVE the honesty! YOU ROCK!

    By Dianna Kersey on May 8, 2009

  8. Thanks Anne

    I thought it was just me.

    I have two identities, one private and the other business.

    I thought that I was being a bit underhanded… but your post has shown me that it’s OK.

    Thanks a lot.

    Bill

    By Bill Simcox on May 8, 2009

  9. Now this post helps a lot for SEO companies.It saves time. Great post.

    Ann,

    You have come up with post after long time.Seems busy with Search Engine Journal.

    By Lohith on May 11, 2009

  10. An alternative way of managing a number of profiles (but not as deeply) is InFormEnter – https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/673 – very useful if you fill in forms or comment on hundreds of blogs with 25+ identities…
    ;)

    By Gidseo on May 11, 2009

  11. Hi Ann,
    Nice article.But when i enter “firefox.exe -ProfileManager” on windows run command i get firefox running instead of profile manager.I cannot find the profile manager on the options either.Any clues to find that?

    By kamal on May 11, 2009

  12. @Kamal, do you make sure all FireFox windows are closed before doing that?

    @GidSEO, great add! Password management and form auto filling should make a good follow-up I guess.

    By Ann Smarty on May 12, 2009

  13. Thanks i got it now

    By kamal on May 12, 2009

  14. Hi Ann
    If you’re doing something on Password Management you may want to check out – http://arstechnica.com/security/news/2009/05/researchers-hijack-botnet-score-56000-passwords-in-an-hour.ars – in particular “The researchers noted, too, that nearly 40 percent of the credentials stolen by Torpig were from browser password managers, and not actual login sessions”.
    Kind regards
    G

    By Gidseo on May 12, 2009

  15. Dear Ann,

    My first exposure to your site. I just bookmarked it!

    I have supported doing this for years, but traditional employee-types (family) have derided it… The old rules JUST DO NO APPLY ANYMORE! My day to day company is very legal/ financial and reputation-based. I do not like to collide it with my personal info nor my other online business ventures. I have multiple logins to everything, passwords to each and all. Gratefully, the only thing I have trouble remembering are my multiple ATM PIN numbers. HA.

    I keep a documentation of each and every password, though. For each persona i have a “Daddy” email account, then subaccounts for actions therein.

    Thanks! Have fun!

    By Traxylee on May 13, 2009

  16. this was very helpful. i had missed the first post about the Firefox profiles which will definitely be useful.
    thanks

    By Zion on May 19, 2009

  17. Hi,

    DigsBy is really nice. But Im using portable pidgin… well because it’s portable. Thanks for sharing. I’ll use this for my social network accounts.

    By bryantboy on May 20, 2009

  18. as someone who’s just spent the day working with multiple accounts for different clients across the social web i chanced across this post & fear that my day has just become far simpler. Sadly i say ‘fear’ because now my clients just wont believe i have to work as hard anymore.

    Aah, the double edged sword has struck me once again ;)

    By philip turpin on May 26, 2009

  19. This is quite interesting. I might have to try it out sometime.

    But I do agree with David and few other similar ones. I don’t really have much to hide on the world wide web. My life is kind of mundane in that way, I guess. ;)

    By Mergen from WEBGURU-CO.COM on Jun 1, 2009

  20. As an aside, interesting fact from Gidseo “nearly 40 percent of the credentials stolen by Torpig were from browser password managers, and not actual login sessions”.”

    Scary

    Does that mean that when Internet Explorer asks “do you want IE to remember password”, you should say no?

    By Bill Simcox on Jun 6, 2009

  21. This is very helpful. I really need this one. Thank you for sharing.

    By Jan on Jul 13, 2009

  22. Maybe I’m really stupid, but all I see here are articles. Where can I actually find how to find out what’s being said?

    By Patricia on Jul 18, 2009

  23. This article is quite interesting and very useful.

    By Breaking News on Jul 23, 2009

  24. I like this article a lot of benefits for seo.

    By seo on Jul 24, 2009

  25. …wow! I am amazed by this executive summary for the great and practical info it contains. Thank you Ann!

    Ky

    By Ky @ Office Divvy on Jul 28, 2009

  26. This is another good post Ann.

    This is a great insight in the difference and making your personal and business life separate.

    Very good thinking.

    Thanks Ann.

    By Bennie Stark on Aug 20, 2009

  27. Cool, a couple of hacks I haven’t seen yet.

    As for myself, I work with multiple profiles because I work on behalf of clients, and it’s the only sane way of keeping cookies and passwords straight.

    By Kitchener SEO on Aug 21, 2009

  28. Hadn’t considered the Firefox profiles idea, that’s a great tip, cheers! What I’ll probably do when I set that up is to add Xmarks to each profile, can have all bookmarks available to all profiles if I want, or can use profiles there too if required.

    By Graeme Hunter on Aug 21, 2009

  29. I think it is good to separate things out a bit. As long as you do it tastefully. Sometimes people own multiple websites and want to keep the branding from each visible on the various social platforms.

    By Nick Stamoulis on Aug 24, 2009

  30. Ya know, what can be used by spammers is very often initially used for legitimate reasons. IP switching and hiding your IP address is a perfectly normal thing for a lot of people who handle more than one identity online, so I wouldn’t sweat it. Nice of you to at least mention it, though, so those interested can google it to find out more about it.

    Also, thanks for the tip about Firefox profiles. Should save me quite a bit of time!

    By Noah on Sep 2, 2009

  31. Thanks for sharing this information

    By ixod on Oct 2, 2009

  32. I have been setting up several things and curious about how to set up different things like this. Very nice info. I’m glad I found your blog!

    By Rebuild Credit on Jan 2, 2010

  33. Very informative article and I agree about the multiple profiles.

    By Dallas SEO on Feb 12, 2010

  34. I like the term “parallel lives” it almost makes it seem normal. It can be quite difficult to keep your personal life private from your business life though. In this age of “selling yourself” it almost seems impossible even with parallel lives. Great Post though.

    By Virginia SEO on Jul 20, 2010

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    By dfo gold on Jan 11, 2011

  36. Very sneaky-good! Any tips to help to keep all of life’s many ‘hats’ organized is much-appreciated. As complicated as it is to have to watch what you say, to whom and when… It’s as complicated as juggling chain saws.

    By Dave Kinkade on Jan 12, 2011

  37. thank you so very much for the heads up on digsby, it is an awesome solution, and you have simplified my life very much, you RULE, ms/mrs Smarty SEO!

    By James Theobald on Jul 4, 2012

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