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You, and your Social Identity: Selective Sharing

September 5, 2011 at 5:41 pm | Blog | No comment


I’ve been reading and thinking a lot about social identity this week. You know, the “you” you put out there on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Foursquare, and wherever else you share.

Last week, a friend developed an alternate Facebook identity because she had an issue where she felt her personal information was being shared with someone she wanted to keep her distance from. So she now has a fresh new Facebook persona. How liberating to be any name, anyone you want to be… The whole Arab Spring showed the need to be able to alter your identity when being transparent could put you at grave risk. Of course for most of us, the assumption is that we are (pretty accurately), what we post.

Social media identity was also in the news last week. During a Q & A at the Edinburgh TV festival with Andy Carvin, Google’s CEO Eric Schmidt let it slip that the reason Google+ is insistent upon the use of real identities because it plans to link that collective information back to new product development, marketing and—no doubt—sales.

What he actually said was that Google + was built primarily as an identity service, so fundamentally, it depends on people using their real names if they’re going to build future products to leverage that information. To my marketing mind, this is brilliant, exciting, and a bit scary.

But the thing is, we may not always be what we share. Are you 100% honest with all that you share — or should I say, 100% unbiased in sharing the good and bad? The positive and not so? Are you guilty of “selective sharing”? Company cash flow challenges vs. signing new business? The breakdown of your car that leaves you stranded vs. connecting up with an old friend? A day lying on the couch watching bad TV vs. a day of mountain biking, paddle surfing or volunteering at the animal shelter (or, all three)? I am absolutely guilty of selective sharing. (Aside: does the whole idea of social sharing ever motivate you to get off that couch?)

I found myself pondering how accurate can targeted social marketing be, if we are not as we share?

This is a concept I am fascinated with. At marakame marketing we are big believers in targeted social marketing and believe it has pretty thoroughly upended traditional marketing. It enables a business to precisely promote itself to communities of users who are generally interested in the message, as well as facilitate a back-and-forth dialog between the business and its clients. We work to build authentic relationships based on real, common interests, so it would be very helpful to know how accurate the interests tied to an identity really are. As well, we strive for quality of relationships over quantity. As in real life, we just feel that’s a much better way to grow a business for the long term.


Next up: Part 2 of You, and your Social Identity: Multiple personalities

Some additional reading on social identity:

Fred Wilson (A VC ) on Google+, Facebook and Identity

Evan Williams, Five Easy Pieces of Online Identity


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