Online you can be anyone you want to be. Not that you should, but you can.
While we would never, ever recommend our clients create even a slightly fictitious persona, some people can and do make things up every day in real life and online.
Over the weekend, I watched a rerun of this Saturday Night Live skit with Christopher Walken and Tim Meadows. Called "The Census Taker," Walken answers questions about his life like . . . number of people in his apartment: 80; hours worked: part-time, part of the day from 9-5; citizenship: US with a passport to Florida; wife: a bobcat. Here's the video from Hulu.com.
Many times when I present to live audiences, I'm asked: how do you recommend setting personal boundaries on social networking sites? The top concerns? Revealing too much, looking foolish and being out of character with their image and their brand.
Every now and then I unintentionally cross a social networking boundary I've set.
Like when I mention something more than I'd like people to know about my family and my life. Or, I say something that gets taken out of context because I didn't have enough characters to set it up properly. Sometimes I hesitate and withhold useful information.
How do you make decisions on what to share on social media sites like twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn?
Social Networking Personality Checklist
Since 1996, I've been interacting with people online. Ten years later, I launched this blog and started shaping an online personality. Mine is a continual work in progress: you learn-you change-you evolve. In thinking about what goes into a social media personality, I came up with this preliminary guide to help new people starting out.
Set Personal Information Boundaries Online
How much do you want to share online? Keep in mind that age, address and phone may be in public records anyway.
Do you want to connect with family members, both close and extended? How far back do you want to go with friends, classmates and employers?
Revealing Lifestyle Preferences Online
Eating is usually a safe zone and can be a good way to invite interaction. While we don't suggest posting every single meal online, a photo of a yummy dessert is always good, especially around lunchtime.
Are you an insomniac who rolls out of bed late or the one who gets up at 5am? People will be able to tell by the date stamp on your updates.
Drinking is a sensitive topic both in terms of mentions and updating under the influence. For some, mentioning vintages and beverages is acceptable, for others it's always off limits.
Promoting Companies and Brands: Intentionally or Unintentionally
Every time you mention company or a brand in social media, it can be seen as an endorsement, review or a call for customer service. If you're trying to get a brand's attention, mention them often.
Quoting People in Social Media Updates
Be sure you quote someone accurately and in context - not sure? Then don't quote them or better yet, ask for their permission first.
Referencing Employer Connections
Drop an employer's name and it shows up in searches. People may attach your opinion to the company.
Signing up for Events
Going somewhere? You're telling people where to find you, which can be a good thing if you want to meet up with friends.
Measuring: IRL BFFs or Digital-Only Friends?
In real life best friends forever may or may not be digital friends. My worlds are starting to merge as friends from both sides start to meet each other online and at events.
Knowing When It Is TMI
TMI, or too much information, happens when people find out more than they want to know. What's on your TMI list?
What kind of animal are you?
Odd question isn't it? But, one that's fun to answer.
Image credit: Lynx in a living room by Barbara Rozgonyi copyright 2007 for www.thesociallens.com. Yes, I was there. Yes, this was one of three cats in a living room. Yes, it was exotic. Yes, it was amazing. Yes, it was in California.