A long, long time ago, in a far off land, it used to be that having more than one identity made you either a spy or a two faced B------! Today in the new world of social everything, you have to have as many identities as you have interests. With the lines blurring between business and personal lives we are continuing to see and create social identities on the web that match the personal, business, personal/business, pursuits we have in life. It is interesting times we live in where it is possible and within anyone's reach to be the next “celebrity” personality or “expert” on the social web. The opportunity for existing businesses to change and grow with the times seems dependent on getting connected in the new social world. But how do we do that?
What makes a social identity a celebrity or expert in the social space? What’s the reason 15,498 social identities follow jaybaer (twitter identity)? How did Pete Cashmore (mashable) attract 1,954,790 social identities to follow this identity, and when he created a personal identity of (PeteCashmore) in days he had 5,101 followers? Who is behind (Servicesphere), the IT Service Management expert with nearly 1000 followers?
In a social world of many identities, what seems to be happening is what has happened throughout time, people are attracted to a trusted source on a topic that interests them. What these few examples, and there are many more, have in common is trust, credibility, and a seemingly endless amount of caffeine at their disposal. They are “living” in the social societies of the web. They eat breathe and endlessly create value for their followers. They are pioneers in a social world where people crave information, and they deliver.
So what does this all mean for the rest of us? And in particular those of us that currently have small businesses, have written a book, are running for elected office, and are artists, musicians, and human beings. The answer seems to be to engage with the new social society in the areas that we are truly passionate about. Not just to make money because people can sniff that out a mile away in this new social society. We need to be contributing value to the conversation happening in this new world.
Back to my initial question; how many social identities should we have? My guess is as many identities as we have interests. As long as those identities are created for the purpose of adding value in the chosen social arena of interest, create away. We need to be in the social society for the same reasons we engage in the “real” society; to add value to our lives and the lives of others. We go to work, we go home and coach the kids sports team, follow the politics of the day and rant, read a good book, and sleep. The only thing different between the social web society and “real society” is to make it in the virtual world you just can’t sleep!
Make another pot of coffee dear it’s going to be a long day!