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?
Excellent!! I love the way your brain works.
I look forward to meeting you soon in the real world.
I’m not sure I’ve had anything to talk with you about during your test period but I can’t deny the change of avatar made me think about any previous image I had of you. 🙂
That is very interesting.
I totally agree that we have many facets and we usually have a public persona that we have cultivated over the years to present – in fact several public personas. Business is one that is also separate from the social ones.
With the trend toward authenticity in marketing, I wonder if that means we will be revealing every facet of our personality to the world. For example, I am generally very conservative, but I recognize there is a daring part of me. We are complicated creatures.
I have yet to develop my own brand. Why do I find that so hard? Why can’t I just say, this is ME, this is my philosophy, these are my world views, if you agree let’s connect, even if you don’t totally agree we can still connect to discuss (not argue)??
Do you want to know why I always think Honesty is the best policy? You don’t have to remember all the untruths you told and to keep them all straight. That’s too much work!!!
On the other hand, I do realise we sometimes have conflicting views, even values that are hard to resolve. Internally, we want everything to line up. This is the self-discovery journey all of us go on. The more internally aligned we are the more we know ourselves. It is through the reactions from the rest of the world (like your experiment) that tests us. And we decide one way or another – sometimes it can be a pure business decision sometimes a philosophical one. We decide.
Having said all that. Can a person present 2 conflicting brands to the world? Complementary maybe, but probably not conflicting. What do others think?
Addy – You raise some interesting points…
It is my belief that by putting ourselves out there we will attract the customers that can relate to us. By relating to us – they will be more inclined to buy. There is no doubt that it is a scary thing to do. I consider myself to be a “private” person – but I do reveal much about myself in my writings and philosophy of doing business. In essence I want to do business with people who are “like-minded”. People who can define their own success and have the gumption to take a path to getting there. Those are people I know I can help. The ones who are teetering on the edge, unsure, need a hand held are not as exciting to me to work with. I do work with them in the hope that they will step off the ledge, so to speak – but those that are “ready” are so fascinating to watch when they “get it”.
Check out 279 Days to Overnight success http://chrisguillebeau.com/3×5/overnight-success-resources-page/ and you will understand what I mean – Chris states it extremely well in his free download.
Thanks Melissa. I checked out Chris Guillebeau’s doc. I like that he is unconventional. I find that intriguing. I’m following him on Twitter now.
It’s interesting stuff, Melissa. And I’m saying this from the point of view of someone who knows you…who has seen you with your “hair down.” We are multifaceted, and I think the clientele most of us want to have regardless of our niche are those with whom we build relationships.
Along those lines I think people like when we create a NARRATIVE…a story of who we are. That narrative can be big enough to accomodate more than one picture or look.
People want to feel like they’re behind the scenes with us. If you bring them into your world – much like you did with this story – they’ll stick to you like glue.
Great food for thought! Thanks as always.
Your Forum Buddy,