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Online fake, real and multiple identities and personalities

March 28, 2009

This weekend @econwriter5 tweeted some great links to a few articles about online personality, brand personality online, and online identity that reflect the current hot online conversation: how do you shape your online presence and personality? how much of the mix is professional related and how much of it is personal? how much of each do you put into the other, if at all? and how do you control the image and perception of you?

WSJ’s ‘ Putting Your Best Faces Forward‘ talks about the way different Social Networking sites allow you to shape your image and reflect your personality and identity. Facebook and LinkedIn are known to explicitly state in their T&C that the site is meant to reflect a ‘real’ identity,  MySpace and Twitter, for example, have a different angle on things:

“To many, the power of anonymity is not a luxury but a necessity, the essence of freedom. By gathering online anonymously, people are free to find others who share their political views or their sexual orientation without fear of repercussion.

As a result, many of Friendster’s users revolted. They decried the “Fakester Genocide” on Facebook and vowed to start a “Fakester Revolution.” They wrote a revolutionary document, the “Fakester Manifesto.” The first declaration:

“Identity is provisional. Who we are is whom we choose to be at any given moment, depending on personality, whim, temperament, or subjective need. No other person or organization can abridge that right, as shape-shifting is inherent to human consciousness, and allows us to thrive and survive under greatly differing circumstances by becoming different people as need or desire arises. By assuming the mantle of the Other, it allows us, paradoxically, to complete ourselves. Every day is Halloween.”

The conflict (or opportunity, depending on how you look at it) of these two philosophies goes even deeper when one has an account in all of these site – which is often the case – and their messages and ‘persoanlities’ start mixing up. The realization the personal is mixed into the professional, and the ‘real identity’ mixed the ‘fake’ identity whether you like it or not, raises the need to have better and more granular control of what message and content is sent to whom. In their new design, Facebook introduced better controls. Even Twitter recognize the need for it and as the article states, it is ‘on their list’ of future features.

Another interesting article from NYTimes is examines HOW you create you personality – and more precisely – your brand personality, online. ““If you don’t brand yourself, Google will brand you,” said Sherry Beck Paprocki”. In a way this article follows up the above to put down a plan of how to build your online presence. For those of you who like to go with the flow and don’t like ‘social media plans’ I’d suggest you stop reading here :-) those that have yet to set up multiple accounts and would like focus on setting up a Brand Personality – the article suggests following these steps:

1. set up an account in the popular sites

2. find your niche and “dig deep inside yourself and figure out what makes you you and not that other Brand You over there”

3. for those of you fond of plans, follow these stages to successfully implement step 2:  ‘discover, create, communicate, maintain’

4. Consistency is key – don’t stop ‘in the middle of a conversation’ – don’t stop updating and maintaining your accounts. even if it doesnt always look like it, people ARE listening.

5. start going deeper into the community “Join the groups, then wait and observe the discussions.”

Regardless, the one thing to remember is to always be “unique. But also authentic.”

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One Comment leave one →
  1. March 30, 2009 4:15 am

    One of the biggest benefits of Social Media, particularly if you are using the medium to “introduce” your company or services, is the transparency it can give to you. Potential new clients can see the “real you” and not a corporate image. The difficulty here is how much of yourself you show to the world.

    In Facebook for instance all your friends and family are usually in your network and comments on your “Wall” can be seen by all members – which at times may prove embarrassing if your best buddy is posting photos of your antics when you were younger.

    Twitter offers a little more protection as you can choose the web space you connect to, to inform the world of you. With Blogs being so easy and free to set up, you can easily create a personal profile and update regularly with “safe” real life information.

    Another possibility is to produce a “personality” to represent your corporate image. This is being restricted in Facebook as they are making more checks to ensure their members are real people. Here the mix with “up close and personal details” can be separated, but the “conversation” can still be ‘one to one’ and personal. A good example of this in Twitter and Facebook is @peppersantblai. Here a donkey at a Rural Hotel in Mallorca is the PR face of the company. Daily information regarding the hotel, it’s activities, the personalities there and facts about Mallorca are exchanged. Those connecting to this profile obviously realize they are not communicating with a donkey, but can feel a “real connection” to the personality. Because the information given is current and helpful, as well as real interaction with the network members, the corporate personality offers much more than a static web page.

    Social Media is definitely offering a new way transparent of promoting yourself and your services – you just need to take care in how much of you is available..
    @rogerswain

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