I’ve accumulated perhaps dozens of identities across various social platforms over the years.
I use the same handle -- maxkalehoff -- on all of them, though the persona I present is nuanced
across each platform and norm.
Here are my major ones and their purpose:
- Twitter: I augment my professional interests with some personality, and to publicly publish
information and news. I’m work-appropriate here, though I occasionally inject sarcasm and humor. I link a lot to things I’m interested in.
- LinkedIn: I present
my professional identity and connect with others interested in doing business with me. I’m pretty serious here.
- Facebook: I connect with close and distant family,
close and distant neighbors, close and distant colleagues and industry friends. I’m more personal and share semiprivate things, like select family events and photos.
- Flickr: I archive my family photos en masse and share them only with close family and friends. I’m personal here, and share images in detail.
Groups: Yes, they’re useful, and I have a few I use personally with closely knit groups of friends, often with discussions that shouldn’t be public. One group is with a bunch of dads,
where we discuss parenting issues candidly with one another.
- Instagram: I experiment on the social network, and to keep in the loop with others. Still, though inertia,
years-of-investment and terabytes of photos keep me on flickr. I don’t have too many expectations here right now.
- Vine: I experiment on the social network, and
capture funny and interesting things that work well in a loop, of course.
- Wordpress: I have a personal blog, where I post short essays that span marketing, technology,
sailing, gardening, cooking and parenting. This is probably the most public online identity that represents the different sides of me, and has a fairly small but loyal following.
is a pattern here. Seven years ago, in this column, I coined the phrase
“socialnetworkitis,” to describe the challenge of managing so many online identities. Seven years later, my identities splinter and morph across many social platforms and norms,
but now it just seems normal.
In fact, it’s normal for for everyone, especially kids and younger adults. Microsoft Labs researcher Dana Boyd underscored the same point in an interview with The Verge, from SXSWi 2014: “The idea of everybody going to one site is
just weird. Give me one other part of history where everybody shows up to the same social space. Fragmentation is a more natural state of being.”
Our digital lives will evolve to reflect
what they’ve always been: rich, nuanced individually and complex. Marketing people are well aware how technology and new media are enabling an unprecedented understanding of their consumers,
along with abilities to reach them as audiences of one.
But the hitch is that there are many flavors of the same persona, and they alter across different platforms and norms. Sometimes people
expect that you understand and reconcile them across different venues and contexts. Sometimes they prefer you don’t and, instead, treat them as an entirely different person -- or keep them
It’s an interesting time to be a marketer!