If you happened to catch yesterday's post, I mentioned that my daughter's birthday is coming up this week. I also included a couple of photos of her enjoying a little pre-birthday celebration. In these pics, she looks happy, relaxed, and (in my admittedly biased opinion) beautiful. I love being a mom and feel fortunate that I have been able to spend the last eleven years at home raising my children.
However, once this post was published, I immediately had regrets. You see, I make conscious efforts to avoid mentioning personal details about my children and husband on this blog. First of all, keeping the focus on fashion, beauty, and body image leaves little room for charming anecdotes and tedious whining about my life as a mom and wife. Secondly, I enjoy the idea that this blog focuses on topics that I truly enjoy writing, that challenge me and encourage intelligent debate.
But even more crucially, I don't want to categorize myself as a "mommy blogger." (Edited to add: Not that there's anything wrong with being one, of course!) Before I even started blogging, I thought about what my target audience would be, and decided that leaving my family life out would be the most consistent method to both defining my focus and drawing in the kind of readers I wanted to reach. This unfortunately meant that some prospective readers might be excluded. This is not the place to find recipes, or advice on parenting, or crafty DIY's, and potential readers looking for posts on those topics might be disappointed not to find them here.
It's more important that ever for bloggers to become aware of their social media footprint and view their online presence as an archive. At the end of this year, there will be over one billion people on social networking sites. Forty eight hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute. Two hundred million Tweets are sent out every minute. And the average Facebook user posts 90 pieces of content each month. In years past, our parents took photos and left then to collect dust in a storage box or wilt in albums. Today, when we maintain an active social media presence, we are creating a veritable digital archive that is going to exist in the internet "cloud" indefinitely. Our virtual personality, comprised of status updates, check-in on Foursquare, tweets and connections, is one that has infinite reach.
I was watching a Ted talk from Adam Ostrow on this very topic, and it got me thinking about my own virtual personality. How do I want people to think of me? What archive do I want to create? While Adam goes one step further and discusses how people will judge us after we die, based on the social media presence we created while alive, I'm curious as to the effects my virtual personality has on the immediate future.
Tomorrow I am headed to NYC, to attend the Independent Fashion Bloggers Evolving Influence Conference. Frankly, I'm scared to death. While I might appear confident and strong in these posts, large social gatherings really aren't in my comfort zone. I'll be meeting people I've only "met" online - people I consider both friends and role models. There's also added pressure to look my best (a lot of pressure.) But I take some relief in the knowledge that I have a consistent social media personality that is a true snapshot of who I really am, and what's important to me as a blogger.
How can you develop an accurate social media snapshot of who you are, and an archive that best represents you? Here are some suggestions:
- Be consistent: There are few things more confusing to followers that seeing you behave one way on your blog, and another on Facebook and Twitter. Being snide, gossipy and confrontational on Twitter, but kind and generous on your blog, can damage your virtual reputation and cause you to alienate the followers you do have.
- Know your target audience: Defining who your target audience not only helps you stay focused on the topics you most want to blog about, but also assists in the creation of the virtual personality you want to present. When people do a search for both you and your blog, what do you want them to see? Who do you want to reach?
- View your social media presence as a virtual resume: Keep profanity, highly personal matters, confrontations, and political or religious rants (unless you are running a political or religious blog) off your social networks. Twitter is not the place to vent about your abusive parents, or that your roommate enjoys clipping her toenails in bed. In addition, complaining or being rude online makes you look petty.
In case you missed it:
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