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To Be Or Not To Be


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When it comes to working on the web few of us have the skill or experience demonstrated by Spiderman. So, when it comes to creating an online presence, the critical thing to consider before even one finger comes into contact with the keyboard is:

“To be myself or not be myself, that is the question?”

Whether or not to take a personal approach or to portray a ‘public persona’ in online activity is a hard question to answer and not one where a one syllable word will suffice. The question may as well be: “how long is a piece of string” or “what came first, the chicken or the egg?” There is certainly no definitive answer.

Many adopt a ‘Peter Parker’ approach, retaining their own individual identity and portraying themselves online as close to their own personality as possible.

With the increasing obsession to engage with social media 24/7, there is more opportunity than ever to publicise our every thought and opinion with the click on a mouse or the press of a button.

And therein lies the danger.

How far should this personal revelation go? What is the convention for including personal information and when is it acceptable to swear or criticise?

And, most importantly, what risk does this pose to personal reputation?

A safer route preferred by many commercial organisations is to adapt a ‘Spiderman’ approach, creating an alter-ego which reflects the corporate brand messages and limits the risk of any potential reputational damage more effectively.

There is no denying it, though, to build a really powerful online voice an authentic approach is essential and establishing a corporate communications policy alongside developing active engagement can be a fine balance.

Even if multiple accounts are adopted, in such a public environment no-one is ever ‘off duty’ and, the true identity can not be fully protected. Indeed, as Peter Parker’s Uncle said: “with power comes great responsibility.”

When it comes to ‘spinning’ PR online we can’t all be as expert with the sticky stuff as Spiderman, so perhaps we’d all be wise to heed the cautionary warning of Sir Walter Scott:

“Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practise to deceive.”

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12 Comments

  • Here’s a good quote to think about if people never reply or comment….”“I like your silence, it the more shows off your wonder.” by good old WS as well…I have to think this many times!!!!!

  • MACBETH: Is this a dagger which I see before me,
    The handle toward my hand?…I suppose is the real question as what will be the consequences of ones actions

  • Jason, you are so right. It is a minefield and a problem that faces everyone who is running a business in particular. There are times when you’re in danger of watering you social media presence down at the expense of anonymity or exposing too much and risking the business reputation. “To be or not to be is”, indeed, the question.

  • This question has troubled me so much and it has left me in a worse place…limbo.Somtimes my real self shows up and other times I hold back ,think about business, reputation etc…It is so confusing and I think it takes time to test the water,,All social medias these days give people the chance to hide behind words…it has good points and bad…which is better I do not know…but anyway my name is Jason, so It is out now and thanks for viewing my blog Zynkin…come back soon.
    P.s “how long is a piece of string?”…twice the distance from the center.

  • Yes, a great subject to think about. Of course we all do this already in our lives after becoming adults. As children we tend to be far more open and honest about who we are. Then we learn to ‘filter’ our persona (unlike Eric Bristow on I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here!). So we have our inner and outer persona. And now there’s our social media persona to consider. With so many personas to maintain perhaps drama classes are in order? But seriously, it’s an interesting question that you raise. I’m launching a new business next year and this is very relevant.

  • Some excellent points Allison and love the super hero analogy! So true – many people are afraid to communicate openly & honestly, and this often negates the purpose of what they’re attempting to achieve. Of course there are limits and boundaries as to what should or shouldn’t be said in line with promoting a brand, but no more than the acceptable ‘rules’ of a polite conversation. Ultimately, social media is meant to be ‘social’, so treat it that way and the benefits will follow.

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