What image do you portray in the blogosphere and online as a whole? In marketing, we call it branding, but in psychology and sociology, they call it impression management. In fact, there is a whole network of psychologists and sociologists who have been studying impression management online, particularly as part of social media, for years.
In an article from the New York Times this week, it was suggested that people strategize their online personas in order to create an ‘e-version’ of themselves that will appeal to a wide variety of people across the internet. For example, your blog can be accessed by your family, prospective hiring managers, your boss, your ex-boyfriends or girlfriends and perfect strangers. How do you create an online persona that accurately reflects your personal brand in a positive and relevant way to all of these groups at once?
Unfortunately, impression management experts believe the problem comes from the fundamental way social networking sites are created in that each member’s profile is generally available for the world to see. Keith Hampton, assistant professor at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania suggests that for impression management to truly be effective, social sites should give users the opportunity to promote different online personas to different people enabling them to segment their social networks.
As a marketer who looks at online personas as personal brands, I think that everything a blogger does online is a reflection of that personal brand and affects that brand’s image, promise and message. Brand consistency is essential to customer loyalty in business, and that rule-of-thumb carries over to blog content consistency and reader loyalty. The social web is structured today, there is no room to forget our personal brands as we communicate online. The internet is a living thing and what you do online today will live for a very long time for the world to see. Impression management and personal branding online is something we have to be conscious of at all times as bloggers.
What do you think of impression management as a blogger with an online presence available for anyone to see and judge? Would you like to have the ability to segment your social networks?