THE BRAZEN CAREERIST- Twitter-pated: Keep separate selves separate
When I started doing Twitter, I put my Twitter feed on the sidebar of my blog. It seemed smart: more content means more traffic, and more traffic is good. But after two weeks of Twitter, I removed it. And then, when I was blogging about important topics like ditching Hebrew school as a career harbinger, commenters asked what happened to my Twitter feed.
Well, the Twitter feed is right here on Twitter. Just like my LinkedIn profile is on LinkedIn and the potted plants I've collected on Facebook are on Facebook. Because mashing our social media together for the purpose of marketing one feed to another dilutes the value of social media. If you express yourself in the same way on a blog and on Twitter, then you don't need both.
It strikes me as really lame that we have such a wide range of media at our disposal, yet people are using that range to convey the same aspect of themselves: the personal brand they're creating for social media.
Ironically, personal branding mostly rewards consistency, and using different media for different aspects of ourselves is not typically what builds brands. But none of us is so narrow to fit completely into the brand we present on a blog. There's more to each of us.
So I'm playing with Twitter right now, seeing what part of me feels most natural to be in Twitter. This is the same thing we do as we make a new friend. We figure out what combination of the things that make up our personality will be best with this person. That's why we're a little different with each person we know.
As it turns out, Twitter feels very intimate to me. It's a small burst, and small means intimate. It's never a rant, because there's not enough room, and it's always immediate because— in keeping with Twitter conventions— it's about "what I'm doing now."
Mashing all social media together to create one image of ourselves doesn't make sense because we are all already accustomed to showing certain parts of ourselves only in certain parts of our lives. It's acceptable to have different places in your life for different aspects of your personality. So don't flatten yourself by presenting only perfect consistency across Twitter and LinkedIn and blogs and Facebook.
Also, people who want to meet you in one format won't necessarily want to meet you in another, and that's fine. Jason Warner, head of staffing for Online Sales and Operations at Google, for example, explained that he doesn't want to check out your MySpace photos before he hires you because that's not the part of you he's expecting to show up at work.
I actually already have experience switching media for different parts of me, and I'm telling you, it has served me well: I got into graduate school at Boston University based on my ability to write about sex. I spent my time in grad school writing hypertext fiction. I lectured at Brown University, I lectured at the Sorbonne, and I'm in Wikipedia for my sex writing– in hypertext. But when I had the opportunity to write career advice, I knew hypertext wasn't the right format. So I started over, with a different way of thinking, in a different medium.
Sometimes I call this a braided career. Sometimes I call this bad branding. It's a fine line.
And some people will say that if you're truly integrated, you will be your same self everywhere. I disagree. I think that the most socially adept people highlight the parts of themselves that will be most interesting to the people at hand.
So I'm keeping Twitter separate. I want to play and explore, and I don't care about being consistent with my brand there. I want to show another part of myself on Twitter– a part that I wouldn't necessarily show on the blog.