masks

 Was I clever enough?
Was I charming?
Did I make at least one good pun?
Was I disconcerting? Disarming?
Was I wise? Was I wan? Was I fun?

From “Thoughts While Driving Home” by John Updike

I’m going off the chart a bit.  Over the next few days I want to explore your sense of “self” and social media.  This is not an easy topic but I want to engage with you to discuss:

How are you different on social media … for better or for worse?  How do you show up?  What is your “brand?”

Is social media the ultimate equalizer, the greatest democracy, or a funhouse mirror warping our view of society?

From a very intimate, personal standpoint, what does it take to succeed on the social web?

To kick things off, I need to pose a very serious question:  Who the hell am I … out here?

In my recent post about the social media “country club,” I made a comment that seemed to resonate with a lot of folks:  “In social media, the medium isn’t the message.  The messenger is the message.”

The idea of having a “personal brand” becomes enormous when everybody has their own global broadcast channel.  That’s what social media is, really. When you pay attention to somebody’s blog or tweets, you’re tuning in to their channel.  Welcome to Station M-A-R-K, spinnin’ and grinnin’ from the great State of Tennessee.

What type of station are you?  News?  Entertainment?  Sports?  Variety?  Or Talk All the Time?

I ask because I don’t know myself.  I went out to lunch with a new friend last week and he said he enjoyed following me on Twitter.  Why?  What’s my “on-air” personality?  I truly don’t know.  I think I have reasonable self-awareness in real life, but the web is another matter …

Sometimes I’m funny, sometimes I’m serious, sometimes I’m absent.  I hide the pain and private stuff.  I’m often pre-occupied.  How does this sum up?

One Twitter-friend referred to me as a gentleman.  It only made me wonder — what brought that on?

If 80% of communication is non-verbal and that is completely eliminated through social media, what’s the impact on perceived personality?  Pretty dramatic I would think.

How do people perceive us when they only catch snippets at certain times of the day? Believe me, the people who “tune in”  to the groggy morning Mark get a vastly different picture than those who catch the late night jokester.

There seems to be an app for everything so I explored the web for answers.  Who am I, Mr. Internet?  My Twitter Grader number is 99.8 out of 100. But does that mean I’m likable?  Engaging?  Cranky? My Twitter Analyzer says my celebrity rating is 72 today … but was 2 last week.  Twitterholic, Twitter rank,  and  Twitalyzer provide rankings relative to all other Twitter users.  One said I had a lot of “clout” last week but not this week.   Twinfluence says I have a velocity of 20,471 second-order followers a day and high social capital.  Huh???

While all of these scores are mildly amusing, it still doesn’t help us see ourselves in a new way:  Through the eyes of your social media audience.   How do we come across to people who have never met us, spoken to us, touched us, or observed a single facial expression … and probably never will?

I’m not asking you to literally tell me about me.  I’m thinking you may also be wondering about how you come across in cyberspace?   If personal brand is paramount on social media, how do you really know what your brand is?

This is Part one of a series on “Self and Social Media.”
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