A Social Media Experiment.
On all of the social media sites I can be found on I have a photo of me. It is my “avatar”, my face, my “brand”. I will tweak them once in a while, make a change, update it usually with little or no reaction – as they are essentially the same. Me, usually from the shoulders up, an outfit, typically red or blue (need to add my purple 🙂 ) smiling nicely. They photos convey my professionalism, hopefully my confidence in what I do, a sense of approachability, and make me recognizable. All the things I wish to be perceived as.
Then one day, I decided I’d like to change it up a little. I broke the golden rule – Never, ever mess with your brand. I took an old avatar and put it up on Facebook. The cartoon is representative of an old idea I had, something out of my ordinary marketing message and a little rough around the edges. She is a “persona” of me, in somewhat questionable attire – but one that conveys the concept of “Web Mistress” in a very tongue in cheek sort of way. I did this as I am considering an “off-shoot” brand and wanted to see what would happen.
Then I sat back and watched.
It was interesting for me to see who continued to interact with me and who did not. Trust me, I took note. I expected the comments from people who know me personally and “in real life” to be positive, I was not disappointed. Those who truly know me are more then aware of how off-center I can be. But I was intrigued by those who did not engage in the conversation anymore but yet still continued to be my “friend”. I did not loose any followers as a result of the change, but I definitely noticed a shift in who continued the conversation and those who did not. I also noticed who entered the conversation who was not there before.
What did I learn?
We are multifaceted creatures. As a whole we are never 100% of what other people perceive us to be. We have many sides and many “faces”. A lot of what we put out there in marketing ourselves is fairly one sided – we show the face we believe will be most accepted, the most “business like” and the most trust worthy. That is not to say we lie, we don’t, we simply send out a consistent message from one side of ourselves.
But what about the “rest of us”? What about the side of us that not everyone publicly knows, embraces or sees? Should that part stay undiscovered or is there something that the persona can bring to the conversation? Does a different face require a different voice? Does a different voice require a different message, brand, service? And most importantly, by showing that different side of us, do we risk loosing the people we have already spent so much time building relationships with?
Once I got past the ooo-ohs and aaaa-hs, I realized that the web mistress is a viable brand, one that can reach a target audience that I have not fully tapped into yet, a younger, edgier audience. There is no doubt that I do have an edgy side to me – not a nasty in your face side, but one that encourages people to be themselves, to pull up the boot straps and put yourself out there no matter what. That is the side of me that does have the expectation that my clients have the “b***s” to live a genuine life, take ownership and do what needs to be done in order to succeed (and expects them to define what success is to them). And while I certainly don’t see me standing in the front of a seminar in that risqué outfit, she is a side of me that is embraceable. She’s tough, she protects and helps and people – which I do normally, but she’s just a little louder about it then the “public” me. She is also a side of me that got me through a very challenging time in my life.
So… if my goal is to be genuine, to lead by example and to continue to inspire, then there must be a way for me to unleash the “web mistress” without sacrificing all the work and contacts I’ve made up to this point.
What are your thoughts?