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My Twitter Alter Ego, and the Question of Brand in Social Applications

I have been doing some experimenting with social applications as it pertains to publishing. I tend to think of this blog as part of a “personal brand” if you will - it’s about me and my thoughts on the industry I happen to work in. Should I ever leave book publishing I suspect this blog will live on and its contents may shift depending on what I am doing. I also have a Twitter feed.

Recently, I have also been doing some social networking in an “unofficial” capacity as a representative of one of our brands, Wrox. Primarily this experimentation is on a Wrox Facebook Group I started, and in a Wrox Twitter feed. These identities are Wrox branded, and the conversations I have are Wrox-centric. So far the growth rate of followers/members is slow, but it is picking up. I have to say that I am pleased with the results in such a short period of time as I have been able to make connections to some programmers I might not have been able to reach as easily otherwise, and it looks like I may have found some new authors and technical editors.

At some point, we will figure out what the message is we want to send to Wrox readers via these channels, but for now the important thing is that we are a part of the conversation.

I like to think that I am keeping my personal brand and my company’s brand separate, but since I am discussing both here that might not be entirely true. There is certainly often a far amount of overlap between the two, and I am not “hiding” the fact that I participate in conversations as the Wrox brand. I certainly represent the brand often at trade shows, and in conversations with partners, customers and authors.

But I wonder if keeping the social application identities separate is the right thing to do. Robert Scoble didn’t really try to do that - he is just Scobleizer. On the other hand, I don’t represent my company on this blog, my personal Twitter feed, or my Facebook Profile.

So, I wonder - is having both disingenuous, or do each serve a purpose? What do you think?

  • PathLab.org

    I have set up a videojournal website, its also in many ways a personal attempt at blogging about my professional work, the site is a medical video website at www.PathLab.org. This may be of interest. Not really MySpace or Facebook, but also useful.

  • Great comments on this post - thanks to everyone for being a part of the conversation.

  • Ellen Gerstein

    This post was very appropriate for me. I had a "heated discussion" (stopping short of calling it a fight) with my husband who wonders why I am on the computer on weekends. My goal, like yours, is to establish a personal brand for myself through social networking. It's an ongoing process but it has to be. It's like gardening, which my husband loves doing. You can't just plant something and be done with it. It has to be nurtured continually. And the more sites you are involved with, the more work it takes.

    I don't think you can separate from your online presence and be successful at it. When my blog got going, I wrote a lot of posts about publishing, but found my bigger hits came when I talked about parenting and mommy stuff. Go figure. As a woman, you try and be all professional, but it winds up that people are interested in how you keep it ALL together. So while I won't rant on about my personal life all the time, if things happen to me or my family that make sense to blog about, I will. It's all part of transparancy. I too may not stay in book publishing forever, but I want this me, the online me, to live on regardless of what career path I take. So I keep the conversation going...

  • Dan Schawbel

    A blog is a communication device and marketing material used to communicate your brand and to engage an audience that is interested in you and your content.

  • Guest

    So, I wonder - is having both disingenuous, or do each serve a purpose? What do you think?

    Consider the portfolio effect; that is, consider what happens when you commingle brands. If you look at the business of celebrity endorsements, you can see both the pros and cons of "brand networking." In my case, I chose to disassociate my corporate and personal brands from those of our clients.

    Let’s face it, no one is going to any of my blogs to hear about me, they bother to go there because I am writing about a particular topic they are interested in.

    The keyword is "I" -- because you are writing about a particular topic of interest. If you're an unknown, of course you can expect that nobody will be interested in what you have to say. When you have an audience though, even if that audience is comprised of one or two people, the content is no longer the focal point. How so?

    All you have to do to figure that out is look at the conversations you have with people around you. Ever had idle chat? Flirted with someone? Talked about nonsense just to keep the conversation going? Content doesn't have to be important, meaningful, or worth publishing for you to draw and retain an audience, but you do.

  • callahan

    I struggled with that very thing. I have had a personal\technical blog for years now on msn spaces. But recently I have had reason to expand that to cover other topics and a book I wrote.

    For me it was a matter of single topic audiences. Let's face it, no one is going to any of my blogs to hear about me, they bother to go there because I am writing about a particular topic they are interested in. Therefore, if I fill a blog with too many topics (like my tech blog on msn), the reader has a one out of ten chance of reading something that is relevant to them. And, consequently, they are driven away.

    So now I have a blog for the book, a blog for Server 2008 (a passion of mine), my good, old, general tech blog, and more. It is more work for me but I think, instead of being deceitful, it is more convenient for the reader.

    Therefore, in your case, those who are looking for wrox info, or want to be authors, technical editors, and the like, the facebook group is perfect for them. For those who just want to read about more general information and thoughts on publishing and internet social networking, then this is the place to be. Personally, I find this non-Wrox focused site to be less intimidating. ; )

    At least that's my two cents worth.

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