Personal vs. Professional Profiles: NSFW?

Personal and professional identities frequently differ online. Perhaps you don’t want to divulge your obsession with cats to your coworkers, so there are certain techniques to learn how to separate work an personal online identities. In “30 Days to Social Media Success,” author Gail Martin tries to teach small business owners how to establish a professional online identity.

In her book, Martin proposes a social media marketing strategy for small business owners who want to utilize the Internet. For the next 30 days, she promises “RESULTS,” using the aforementioned acronym, to structure the flow of the book. After Recommitting to marketing, Expecting Success, Seeking partners, Understanding your audience, Looking for win-win scenarios, Taking strategic action and Staying visible, Martin believes your online presence will enhance the success of your business. However, Martin’s argument would be strengthened if she incorporated case studies and examples of successful businesses.ref=sib_dp_pt

There is a fine line between properly conveying your intended online identity on different platforms. Whether the sites incorporate context collapse, or social cues comply with the site’s culture, one’s authenticity is always evaluated by the audience.

A dichotomy in communication exists within social media platforms between adult and children users. In “Why Youth Heart Social Networking Sites,” author danah boyd claims that adults and children view private and public spheres differently, although social media is programmed more towards public sharing. Teens have the advantage of growing up with such technology and social media, and have learned how to expose their identities using online platforms. Yet, adults must adapt to the new culture and social cues attached to properly building an online identity.

And in addition to creating their personal profiles, small business owners must craft business-related profiles. Certain social network sites provide a context collapse to generate business and personal interactions. Martin advises small business owners to sign up for context collapse sites, as well as themed interest sites. However, on context collapsing sites like Twitter and Facebook, the line between maintaining professional and personal identities is blurred.

Even Alice Marwick and boyd agree in “I tweet honestly, I tweet passionately: Twitter users, context collapse and the imagined audience,” that “the desire to have ‘fans’ or a ‘personal brand’ conflicts with the desire for pure self-expression and intimate connections with others” (18). They believe that Twitter users’ imagined audiences affect the types of tweets that people post. And since context collapse allows each diverse reader to decipher the authenticity of other users, identities fluctuate between authentic or fake.

6981058156_da223a2a55

Thus, Martin’s assumption that individuals can expose their “True Voice” online is considerably unrealistic, because Marwick and boyd, as well as Hugo Liu, show how online communication is a performance. Martin advises readers to post stories about their businesses, using their personal experiences (“Real Story”) and “True Voice.” In addition to Marwick and boyd’s explanations about how all forms of online communication are catered to an audience, Hugo Liu’s four taste performances show that all online postings are meant to communicate our own identities within the social world. In “Social Network Profiles as Taste Performances,” Liu states that all online statements derive from either one’s desire to sound prestigious, different, authentic or theatrical. Therefore, the conscious effort to create such statements is a performance in itself, which negates Martins claim that “True Voice” genuine.
However, Martin states in chapter 22 that “the branding you create for your company, yourself, and your products/services must be aligned with your key business goals to stay in sync with everything.” Thus, even sites she recommends that incorporate context collapse are not ideal for Martin’s version of proper social marketing. Judith Donath’s “Sociable Media” even questions the rewards of replacing strong ties (i.e. frequent customers) with a greater number of weaker ties (i.e. Twitter followers).

Martin could have also mentioned how personal performances of the self on Twitter can possibly generate a level of intimacy, which can reinforce social ties that were lost to the ingenuity of self-promotion. In “Without You I’m Nothing: Performances on the Self on Twitter,” Zizi Papacharissi believes that despite the context collapse, “Twitter users frequently craft polysemic messages, encoded with meanings that are decoded differently by each potential audience member” (6). These messages change the meanings to different users, which can even help individuals balance expectations for authenticity while context collapse reconsiders identities.

Although Martin’s advice to join specific forums tailored to one’s business is a good idea, one must learn the social cues to fit into the group. In Bonnie Nardi’s “Ethnographic Investigation of World of Warcraft,” she learns that one must know the jargon and social cues to gain respect from the community. Although Martin does not explain the benefits of browsing forums and communities before posting, advises observing the sites before participating. In doing so, business owners will gain a better sense of what types of interactions occur between users, and how they can strive in the group.wow-art-night-elf-female

Overall, if you complain about your boss online, make sure it’s on your personal, private account that doesn’t incorporate context collapse. And if you want to promote a small business, reading Martin’s book will not entirely suffice.

facebookfail

[Images viaviavia, via]

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: