Thursday, May 3, 2012

4 Reasons to Stop Leading a Virtual Double Life: How to Manage Your Digital Persona

by Lesley Albright
Don’t kid yourself. There invisible line that you have placed between your personal Twitter account and professional Twitter handle is a bit of a joke.  Privacy filters can lapse when social networks like Facebook do an update and we all know there are loopholes to gain access to someone’s profile. There is bound to be overlap between your personal and professional digital persona, so take advantage of it.

Everything we are learning points to the value of being authentic, in being human in front of your audience. By separating your personal life from your professional persona you are inherently cutting off the blood supply that allows you to speak from the heart, to speak with a real, human voice.  Peter Shanckman, a moonlighting blogger from PR Week argues that you only Have One Brand and that it should have a unique personal touch.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Nobody said you have to share every personal detail about your hygiene, drunken escapades, or your children’s bowel movements with everyone in your professional circle. But here are just a few things to think about if you plan to lead a digital double life.

·      Who’s Has the Time? - It’s too much work to manage two different accounts for every social media platform.  Just like a man leading two different lives at some point you will slip up and make a mistake or neglect one of your personas.
·      Murphy’s Law – If you don’t want people to find it…they will. Potential employers, obnoxious co-workers and others will be able to access your private information if they try hard enough.  From Facebook to Tumblr, remember that privacy safeguards can change without notice and allow outside eyes to see private information.
·      Professional Klout – Your digital resume will have more power if you consolidate your efforts. By separating your personal Twitter account from a professional one, you reduce your influence across markets.
·      It’s Not Human – All of your unique quirks, personality traits and mistakes are what make you human. They come together to make you uniquely you and frankly, more interesting. In a sea of people and an ever-demanding need to differentiate ourselves, these human aspects will set you apart. So why not share?

The time has come when we can’t separate aspects of our lives, but instead have to look holistically at the brand we portray to the world, in person and online.  If you are on board with this philosophy, here are a few ways to get started:

1)   Clean up Your Brand – Do a review of all your online material and if you wouldn’t want your Mom, teacher, boss or significant other to see it, get rid of it.
2)   Add Unique Tidbits   - Don’t be afraid to drop in tidbits of quirky personal information like your love for Swedish fish or your obsession with folk music.  These little nuggets make you who you are.

Lesley Albright is a graduate student in the Northwestern Medill IMC marketing program and a strategic communications consultant. Lesley can be reached on twitter using the handle @LesioRants

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