Social Media vs Social Identity

This may not be news for most people, but it struck me over the weekend, and I wanted to share.

I received a Facebook invitation to connect with someone I haven’t talked to for years.  I’ve never really given a lot of thought to Facebook or LinkedIn invitations until now, but I realized that my accounts have become my online identity.  I’m sure I can (or will be) judged by the people to whom I am connected and choose to socialize.

My accounts have become my online identity, and the interesting piece is that people who don’t know me are more likely to judge me by those inputs than anything else.

Twitter then becomes an even more interesting question.  Is your goal to connect to as many people as possible, or to build a network of people with whom you want to exchange ideas.  I’ve seen people with thousands of connections, and literally three messages sent.  It is an ongoing cycle of needless connections.  So what’s the point?  Why have connections if you have nothing to say?

Regardless, your online choices are the most visible aspect of who you are.  Not news, I know, but still interesting to me.


  1. This is such an interesting subject, Dwane, particularly for me as I am fairly new (actively) on Twitter and building follows and followees. I haven’t viewed it so much from a profile perspective as a community thing. Most follows I receive I respond by following, unless it is too blatantly commercial or I am really repelled by the Tweeter subject.
    My subject is HR, so that, and related issues, dominate, But, I also follow suppliers, performing arts (not stars), music, philosophy, science fiction and a bunch of people who just seem very interesting, whatever their subject.
    Should I be more strategic? At this point, it is like a number of professionals I should have something in common with and other interesting people I would associate and chat with within an organization or within the community in general.
    I agree with your point, but I would not unfollow people just because they may not seem to add anything to my profile, but you have helped me to put this subject in context as I move forward and continue to wrestle with a number of other issues with potential impact on me as a member of the community. I intially used Twitter just to tweet my blog posts, but gradually became aware how much more depth there is to the community and interaction between great people.
    Thank you for making me think!

    • Ian –

      Glad you got something out of it, but I certainly would never imply someone else should manage their profile the way I do. (And I don’t get the impression that is the message you received.) It’s really just about reflecting on how we got to where we are, and where it is likely going.

      Thanks for visiting!


  2. I think it’s all about the personal social media policy.

    Here’s mine:
    1. Facebook is for sharing photos with real-life friends. No business peeps. No strangers.
    2. LinkedIn is my online rolodex. If I don’t know you, I won’t connect. But if we’ve met or talked online, you’re in.
    3. Twitter is for cultivating close relationships online. I only follow people whose tweets I find really interesting, though I will talk and interact with plenty of people I don’t follow.

    – Chris

    • Chris –

      It’s interesting that you shared your outline, as your policy was part of my inspiration. I thought of it with the last couple of invitations I received and thought “do I really want to connect to this person, or are they just a +1 to my profile count?” (Full disclosure, I still haven’t decided.) Kudos to you for having a personal philosophy. I wonder how many others know their own guidelines. I know that I have not really explored mine that well, and the task is on my to-do list.

  3. Linked in is my online rolodex but I also like to expand my network using linked in – finding interesting connections of my connections, connecting to people in areas I want to explore… I think Linked In has great potential that Linked In needs to do a much better job of making a reality. There feed is horrible – cluttered with all sorts of useless garbage. I can’t believe anyone would read their feed. Of course I can’t believe people actually find Facebook worthwhile (other than what Chris says – as a way to share photos or status updates with close friends) so I may be out of touch.

    • It may sound bad, but I love FB for reminding me of birthdays. It’s a weakness for me, so I’m glad it fills in the gap.

      I couldn’t agree more on LinkedIn. From the discussion I had with them at HRTech this year, I would expect some really good stuff in the first half of next year.

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