Digital Influence Weekly – Me, Myself and My Multiple Identities


♫♫ Are you lonesome tonight,
Did you tweet me tonight?
Are you sorry I mislead you online? ♫♫

Mashable reported recently that online dating fraud increased by 150 percent this past year. This means users of online dating services have been harassed, directed to questionable sites or had exposed personal information to unsavory characters. If the photo, description or conversation from a user seems too good to be true, it might just be. Regardless, always be careful about the information you disclose in a dating site. 

Now, on to the Digital Influence Weekly…

Pierponter Jen Pearsall and I were recent guest lecturers at an MBA-level integrated marketing class. One of the subjects for the evening was social media and how it’s used to cultivate a personal brand. One student raised the question everyone faces at some point: How does one manage their personal and professional identities online? 

Professionals, old and young alike, continue to weigh the pros and cons of making personal connections through social networks. You never know what common interests with others will bring in terms of new business leads.

However, there is a time and place for everything and every social network serves its own specific purpose. Facebook, especially with the new Timeline feature that can chronicle a person’s life since birth, is built upon personal lives and close circles of friends and family. This would be the most appropriate place to post vacation photos, music videos, baby pictures and such. If a business’s Facebook brand succeeds, it’s due to the engagement driven by users who allow that brand to be part of their personal lives.

LinkedIn has always been the online rolodex on steroids. LinkedIn allows you to create professional business profiles managed by the user allowing them to be found by recruiters, business prospects, current clients and colleagues. Fleshed out LinkedIn profiles traditionally show up favorably in Google results, which further helps you to demonstrate your influence and thought leadership online.

But would you ever combine the needs these social networks serve? Wall Street Journal blog Digits recently posted about BranchOut which connects recruiters and employers to you through Facebook. Would you really want a future employer to see your Facebook profile or to see who your connections are? Remember that just because you may have strong privacy settings, your friends might not. They can still post inappropriate photos and stories, which could be exposed to the world and hurt your credibility. 

Here are some tips to help you effectively manage your multiple personalities online:

1) You control the profiles you create. That means you decide what information you share and which social network you share it with.

2) Learn your privacy settings for every social network. Having a good understanding of these options will allow you the freedom to post your personal life online with a degree of security and privacy. When in doubt, see tip #1.

3) Talk to your friends about how you show up on Facebook. It’s ok to let the people in your life know that you don’t want certain pictures of you or revealing status updates posted online.

4) Set your own guidelines for connecting with professionals. If a client wants to connect on Facebook, politely explain that Facebook is just for close friends and family, but that you would be happy to connect via LinkedIn or some other appropriate social network.

5) If you use a program like TweetDeck or Hootsuite to manage multiple accounts for Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc., do not send all your status updates to each network. While these programs can save time when posting to multiple networks, certain updates may not be appropriate to the social network or online community you have created.

So remember, if you plan on doing anything embarrassing this weekend, keep a low profile.