If you are anything like me, chances are you’ve had difficulty figuring out where/how to draw the line between your business identity and your personal identity online. In essence, you’ve wondered, “How can I build and maintain a positive corporate reputation, but still be personal, authentic, and interesting?” The convergence of these two very distinct identities has been brought about by the social media revolution. It is no surprise that this revolution has necessitated an effective identity management. Personally, I’ve found success in managing my online identity by following several criteria and strategically embracing a limited number of social networking opportunities.
Creating a simple list of governing principles as to how you conduct and portray yourself online is an easy and helpful step towards good identity management. For example, I strive to be helpful towards others, be enthusiastic but relaxed, and to be positive and humorous. It won’t do you any good to get on your twitter and tweet: “I HATE MY LIFE RIGHT NOW!!! EVERYTHING IS FALLING APART!!!” While I think it’s OK to show emotion, particularly in regards to what energizes you, its important to make sure that you aren’t off-putting or irritating your followers. A better version of the tweet would have been, “Today has been really difficult, but maybe that just means I’ve been given a useful chance to improve.” This allows you to be personal while demonstrating your professional competence.
Carefully choosing the social networks you are involved can also be helpful in managing your online personality. Try limiting yourself to only a handful of social networks. (Remember, you can only be friends with so many people.) If you are into digital photography, for example, try joining Flickr only and not Flickr, DeviantArt, Webshots, and Sneppi simultaneously. Chances are, you also use Facebook to share photos. Try keeping your personal, more candid photos on Facebook and your artistic, professional photos on Flickr. Keeping things simple and distinguishable really should go without saying, but it is an important part of effective management.
I’d encourage you to evaluate your online identity and look for ways to improve it. More specifically, think about how well you’ve kept things simple and well defined. Be critical in this evaluation and look for ways to improve. You may discover some areas that have become convoluted and need better management.