Branding your Social Identity

I just read an interesting post on Scott Hepburn’s Media Emerging Blog titled, “Should You Have One Social Media Identity or Two?” that addresses an issue that many folks in the PR world have been thinking about lately.

Social tool or strategic business tool?

The expansion of Facebook, and many other social media Web sites, has changed the function of these Web sites in my life, both as a student and as a PR professional. I now have a tendency to use the Web sites for strategic purposes, but does that mean that my just-for-fun personal Facebook page should be modified or changed to be more professional? Should I have multiple social media identities, or would this just lead to chaos?

This is an issue that I feel is particularly pertinent to folks in my age group. I am 22 and a senior in college. I, like most of my classmates and friends, set up my Facebook account as soon as I got my university E mail address just after my senior year of high school. Since then, Facebook has been intertwined in my college experience, my life. Back in 2005, Facebook was for college students. Now it is open to everyone with an E mail address, which has allowed Facebook to increase its services to meet the needs of the corporate and business communities as well.

With social media campaigns becoming increasingly popular in the corporate business world many PR practitioners may find themselves Twittering or blogging for several different clients a day. Personally, I am active on Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, Digg, Linkedin and WordPress. However, I also Tweet for NextStep Recycling.

According to Scott Hepburn’s post, having multiple social identities may change how you present yourself on-line. Here is an excerpt from his blog:

Another reason I favor sticking with a single identity is that there’s a tendency to brand your second identity — your work identity — under the flag of your company.

Another interesting take on this issue comes from Andrew Edward’s recent article in the Oregon Daily Emerald titled “Creating the virtual you.” Here is an excerpt from that article that relates to this issue:

Instead of creating a profile based on the events of their lives and the things they know and enjoy, these people cultivate interests and activities based on the self they create on their profiles. The profile becomes an idealized version of oneself, and people begin to act out their “real” lives based on the “hyperreality” they create online. 

The part that sticks out to me in this excerpt is the idea of creating an idealized version of yourself on social media Web sites. I think that in order to be transparent and realize that you are a brand on-line. Your social media profiles establish your identity on-line, so I think the best bet is to stick with one identity because even though you may be representing an organization or business, you are also always representing yourself.

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