Social Identity can and should have multiple personalities as we all have many skills and interests we can share both professionally and personally that do not require multiple Social Identities to accomplish participating in many conversations. Managing your Social Identity of multiple personalities does not have to turn into a personality disorder or Identity crisis. This post is a follow on to a previous post of Social Identity learnings, Social Identity . . . Consider it Carefully.
I’m often asked and often participate in conversations where someone new to social media marketing believes they must set up multiple social identities based upon topics they may cover. I highly recommend against multiple identities and evangelize a single identity. Multiple personalities can lead you down a path of Dr. JekyI and Mr. Hyde or Sybil and many faces that will not lead you to the goal of establishing a brand for yourself.
I started with multiple accounts as I posted, Social Identity . . . Consider it Carefully,two years ago and in fact, I didn’t have a Facebook account during the time I reference in that post. I always say, “My product had a Facebook account long before I did and I learned from my product”. As I started my social identity journey with multiple accounts, they were as follows:
- Product Accounts
- Professional Blog Accounts
- Personal Accounts
These accounts still exist and in this case, however, the first two I do not consider my personal identity. Let me explain.
As a marketer for software products (or any product for that matter), I would expect the company you work for to have corporate accounts and sub-accounts by topics, solutions or products. In our case, social media was a new thing and those of us interested in participating and promoting our products in a large portfolio of products chose to do so in social media. After all, it is relatively free and can drive awareness by participating in conversations and creating content that we would otherwise miss out on. It was also an opportunity for me personally to pick up new skills in the realm of social media marketing.
In this case, the product account was my account which I now share with the company. I use my personal account to socialize corporate information as well. A recommendation I would make after this learning experience is that the company should set-up corporate accounts and assign individuals to be responsible for socializing content from the account while they hold positions appropriate to the social identities. This then means the company is responsible for growing the base of followers and as employees come and go and/or move into different roles, the identity moves to the next responsible person and continues without disruption for the company.
In my case, it was how I could personally gain social media experience without opening myself up to personal information sharing as I learned.
This is another example of a site needing an identity to participate in social conversations. The blog I and a co-worker set-up was professionally related to our work with our solution / product in the market and thus an identity was applicable, however, I managed what it participated in and what it socialized separate from a personal identity.
In this case, it makes sense for the blog to have an identity of it’s own as we were working to gain mind share in the market as thought leaders, regardless of our solution / product and the company we happened to work for currently. The downside of a blog of this nature is that as your career evolves and your role changes, the blog goes stale and can reflect negatively upon you as the manager and editor of the blog.
I continue this discussion below…….
Now having had the opportunity to manage multiple accounts and identities at one time for other professional reasons, I do not recommend multiple accounts and identities at a personal level. Why? As professional and non-professional people, we are expected to have multiple interests and that makes us who we are. Professionally I even have multiple hats that I wear, further expanding the topics I may contribute content and the conversations that I may participate (e.g., Marketing, Channel Marketing, Industry Marketing, Solutions, Products, Topics, Technology, etc.).
On a non-professional level I have set-up a personal blog that supports my local community and my love for local food and cooking. On this blog I may also choose at a later date to blog on other topics and have the capability to do so and consider this part of my personal identity. In this case the blog carries the same name as my chosen social identity.
Let’s Re-visit the Topic of Blogs Again
In hindsight of setting up two blogs now: one for professional content and one for personal content, I would not set up two sets of social identities. While the personal blog carries the same name as my social identity, HudnallsHuddle, and the professional blog does not, as the manager for the professional blog it would have been appropriate to socialize the content of a blog with a differing social identity than the name of the blog. An example of this is a friend and mentor of mine, Frank Strong and the blog Sword and the Script. I should have followed his lead when I set up the professional blog late in 2010, however, it turned into a sandbox to learn from, share those learnings and has since gone stale.
In this example, Frank manages the blog, it is his blog, it represents his professional life of PR and Marketing and it has a name of it’s own, but does not have a separate social identity – Frank socializes the content. I would highly recommend this approach if you are planning on setting up a blog of your own, regardless of whether it is for personal or professional reasons. Your socialization of the content will continue to build your brand in the market.
Tips for a Single Social Identity with Many Faces
As I felt more confident and had solidified my social identity as described in my previous post, Social Identity . . . Consider it Carefully, I continued to further mature my learning for my social identity and here are a few tips for participating in many conversations without developing a personality disorder:
- Professional and Personal Accounts – Simple advice: if you are the brand, you may consider separate accounts as most folks don’t want to see your personal conversations. However, remember it is still the internet and consider all conversations public and the two accounts will be connected, so represent yourself appropriately. Otherwise, I would suggest only one set of accounts and identity.
- Use Hashtags – Use the appropriate hashtag and use it consistently in your posts on LinkedIN, Twitter, Google+, Facebook, etc.when using a single identity. Definitely use hashtags with Twitter as this will likely be the most cross conversation platform that you use. For me, Facebook is solely personal, LinkedIN is solely professional and Twitter is cross conversational. However again, be cautious what you post on any platform as they can and will be found and the dots connected back to you.
- Good Bio’s – Use the hashtags in your bio indicating you converse on several topics and if someone is following you for one topic, they can pick-up conversations by hashtag topic.
- Handle Consistency – Use the same handle across platforms to enable people to find you as the same identity. Do not tie your handle to products, places, teams, schools, etc. as these things change over time. Use your name or create an identity that will stick with you over time and establish your brand!
The best advice I provide is to participate, be open, authentic and consistent with your social identity to build your brand, but be smart and professional with your social conversations regardless of how you segment your conversations by platform. Try not to create a multiple personality disorder with your social identity.
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Are you managing multiple personalities?
Part I of this discussion: Social Identity . . . Consider it Carefully