Online Identity – How We Use Social Media

July 21, 2009 at 5:42 pm (marketing, networking, social media) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Social_media_superhero

The other day I was sitting in a conference and heard a continuous and steady ticking noise – the sounds of twitter and facebook being updated, text messages flying, and emails sending. Isn’t it funny how social norms have changed? In the past it would have been rude to be completely enthralled in something other than what the speaker was talking about. Now, at least in some arenas, it is not only accepted, but expected, that people will be using social media throughout the entire presentation. The job of stenographer has been passed to anyone with a cell phone, laptop, or other portable uploading device.

Many of us are fully connected to each other through social media. We can get a minute-by-minute update of conferences or events through the use of hashtags, podcasts, and micoblogs. Not only are these forms of social media developing their own unique set of rules and personalities, but they are reshaping social norms in the real world.

Some of the personalities I have witnessed in social media are as follows:

  • Class President – Organizer of social media meetups, tweetups, mashups, etc. Usually just known locally by the social media groups in their own region.
  • Professional –  Social media is their job. They produce content to drive people to their company’s site, promote their products, etc, but still provide relevant and current information and news.
  • Networker – They are involved in meetups, online conversations, sharing information, and the like. They don’t always create their own content, but can find something relevant to any topic. These people are constantly connected.
  • Reply and Retweet Informant – This person has no original content. Their sole purpose in social media is to regurgitate what someone else said, or comment on what others have posted.
  • Comedian – Their updates are just to get a smile out of readers.
  • Business – Click here and buy, endorse, or promote my crap.
  • Diary Keeper – They let us know every little detail about their meals, workday, bodily functions, or whatever other monotonous thing is happening.
  • Porn – The people that for an unsolicited reason friend, connect, post, and pursue you because they have an army of 22-year-olds who match you perfectly based on God knows what.

I have also noticed that social media is used in different ways:

  • Retribution – To get back at those who physically or mentally harmed you in the past by showing how great you life is now
  • Self-esteem – The people whose online persona looks like they are living the highlife and loving every minute of it. In reality none of it is true, but it makes them feel better.
  • Therapy – These people share their problems with the world; everything is drama.
  • Bragging – Their life is going well, and they want everyone to know it.
  • Reconnect and Friend –  They really do want to know what happened to everyone, and how they are doing.

I think it’s funny how we all hide behind our personally constructed online identities. Like superheroes in masks and colorful costumes, it’s usually not that hard to tell that Clark Kent is Superman with glasses. I’m sure there are more personality types and reasons people use social media than I listed here, these were just the ones I see the most. There’s a great presentation by Social Interaction Design specialist Adrian Chan that describes social media personality types in a more detailed and professional way. It will be interesting to see how social media psychology and etiquette develop over the next few years, and how it will interact and influence our traditional social norms.

What kind of online personality am I? Find out: @IamBartleby

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2 Comments

  1. WhereIsBartleby said,

    There’s a great article by Seth Liss of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel about social media:
    http://tinyurl.com/nonkfs

  2. Can’t Email That Important Client? Facebook Them! « Where Is Bartleby? said,

    […] my blog and twitter updates I have cited many case studies of social media as a networking and branding tool, way to maintain community involvement and policing, and even a case or two of […]

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