Disentangling Identities

June 11, 2008

For the past several months I’ve been on Twitter as @Hoovers. That’s been an experiment in representing my company in microblog-land. As of Friday 6/13/2008, I’ll end the experiment and disentangle my identity from the corporate one. My friend Kathleen (Hoover’s Community Manager/Moderator and all-around good person) will take over tweeting as Hoover’s. I’ll resume tweeting as rsomers.

I’ve learned a lot during this experiment:

  • Social media makes it easy to mix the personal and professional. I initially intended just to tweet business-related things (Hoover’s product enhancements, updates to the site, interesting blog posts, etc). I did…but also discussed James Jamerson, Central Texas tornado warnings, Twitter business plans, my family, sushi, Iron Man and other non-business things. I plugged my personal blog (this one). I plugged my local coffee shop (Blue Marble Java in Pflugerville, where I’m writing this). I don’t know where the personal ends and the professional begins. Maybe that’s the point
  • If you tweet as a company you need to add a certain amound of the personal. ‘RichardAtDELL’ may be a more powerful Twitter identity than ‘DELL.’ In a social media sphere people like to know that they’re interacting with another person. I overcame that for my 259 Twitter homies, perhaps because I can’t avoid mixing the personal and the professional in the tone and topic of my tweets
  • Online identity evolves. It’s worth thinking in terms of personal branding as we choose url’s, blog titles, Twitter ID’s, etc. A rational schema (where the url ties to the blog title ties to the Twitter ID) makes the best sense. But it will still change over time as our personal and professional goals change
  • As that identity evolves we have a responsibility to the people we’ve been interacting with. Between now and Friday 6/13 I’ll DM every Twitter user I’ve had significant interaction with and let them know of the change

Thank you @antm and @roblifford for suggesting the Twitter experiment and grabbing the Hoovers ID for us to use. Thank you @jowyang and @chrisbrogan for the warm welcome and offers of help. @TWalk and @zackgonzales, we may need to talk F2F over the cube again. @vpearcy, thanks for helping me experience Return to Forever without having to endure being there. Thank you @tawnypress for the honest product/service feedback and friendship. I appreciate @smallbiztrends, @twittertutors and others participation in the Twitter Business Plan contest as much as I appreciate @cparmele’s helping get it noticed.

And, of course, all praise be to @TweetJeebus.


8 Responses to “Disentangling Identities”

  1. tomob Says:

    Nice post – and I really appreciate your thoughts on how the RichardatDell is more powerful than Dell – its really is about people and relationships – not brands!


  2. hoovers Says:

    Face-to-face . . . seriously? Has it come to that?

  3. Best wishes to you too!

  4. Andrew Meyer Says:

    Thanks for writing this. These are some issues I’ve been thinking about as I’m getting into twitter. Hearing from someone on the other side of an experiment like yours is really helpful and insightful.

  5. Well-crafted post, Russ. Twitter is about people…with personalities. Giving a corporate entity a “voice” is an art that few of us have figured out yet. You served Hoovers well in that regard, and I will now look forward to the same wit from your alter-twitter-ego. @rsomers Welcome back!

  6. rsomers Says:

    Glad to hear my thoughts may have been useful. As Sharon points out, this is really an exercise in reincarnation.

  7. Tawny Press Says:

    To the man who gave me the “best answer” in LinkedIN, to my question “Twitter, is it just another social network?”

    Here is the great advice I was given:

    Reasons I use Twitter:

    1) A lot of interesting people are talking there. The guru-to-bozo ratio is much more favorable than on Myspace or Facebook.

    2) It’s robust against spam in a way that many communication tools are not since you choose who you follow. A twitter spammer quickly finds them self shouting in an empty room

    3) It lets me come across interesting content that I don’t find via RSS or email. Oftentimes I find something first on Twitter and then add it to my RSS feeds

    4) It’s the preferred method of communication for some people I need to stay in contact with. I never used text messages until I started working with someone who used them a lot – it just made sense to adopt his mode of communication to make things easy. I recently used it to contact an out-of-office co-worker with a burning question and get a response in moments. I could have emailed or called, but I figured Twitter would be quicker.

    5) Unlike the examples you list above, it’s multiplatform. In the example above, I tweeted from my computer and my co-worker responded from his phone. I didn’t need to think or care about what platform he was on

    6) As you add interesting people to follow, the stream becomes a flow of new and interesting information passing by – sort of ambient music for the intellect. If someone isn’t contributing or is contributing junk, just stop following them.

    7) As a marketer it lets me follow conversations about my brand with Tweetscan. That’s in addition to, not replacing, blog and press monitoring

    That is what you said then, wonder how many new discoveries you have made? My discoveries have exceed any and all expectations.

    You provided great insights and @madgreed65, told me to just try it. Two brilliant guys!

    I am grateful to have you in my networks and through Twitter feel as if I have known you for years!

  8. rsomers Says:

    Tawny you’re too kind! I’m glad my LI answer was helpful and got you to take the plunge. I enjoy our conversations (and Zack-tweaking) on Twitter and elsewhere!

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