The real reason why you need Social Media profiles

Everyone in social media will remind you that it is about being social and not about marketing. And everyone condemns those blatant sales profiles that have nothing else to offer other than your typical “buy me” messages.

But then, so many people ask, why have social media profiles if not for marketing?

And that’s where the real reason for social media engagement lies.

Social media is a chance for you to show you’re credible.

Communicating online is nothing knew to those who have been on the internet for a while. In the old days we used IRC – internet relay chat. You set up a nickname and chatted away in total anonymity. Those were the days when the axe murderer was still lurking around every corner simply because anybody could hide behind a nickname. Anybody could pretend they’re somebody else without too much hassle and that did lead to all sorts of weird and sometimes sad stories.

If you’ve been around then a/s/l will still be in your memory. It was a way for people to get an idea who they’re talking to. When someone typed a/s/l into the chat it meant “tell me your age, sex and location”. That was a way how we sniffed each other out online. We do the same offline. The moment we meet a new person we take in their approximate age, sex and all sorts of other things.

Online it’s not so easy and thus things like a/s/l helped us communicate. Alongside IRC forums sprung up. While IRC was fleeting, when you weren’t online there was no trace of you, forums are more permanent. But still, particularly in the old days, nobody used their real picture or real name. Instead the avatar was born. A visual representation of yourself but usually not your real picture. With forums what you say stays online even if you’re not online. It has a more permanent nature.

And they are a great way to build community. Over the years I have been a member of many online forums and it always amazed me how you can build friendships even though you don’t really know what the other person looks like.

But the more you could read about a person the more you could get a “feeling” for that person and you formed an opinion about whether you like that person or not.

who-are-you-online-identiy

And then there came MySpace and Facebook and Twitter and all the others. Suddenly we had profiles with our real picture and real name. And it changed everything. Now nobody needs to ask a/s/l anymore, all it takes is to look at the profile and you can get an idea of the answer. Now we build community around the communities we already have. On Twitter we can check out who our friends are following and find interesting people to follow that way. And how do we know they are interesting?

We look at their picture, their name, their mini bio and the last couple of tweets they have sent. Now my question to you is, what does it tell about you when there is no real picture, a nondescript bio and some unrelated tweets (as they often are)? What does it tell about someone who decided to remain anonymous?

In today’s world not showing your face and some info about you is almost akin to the stalkers of past IRC chats. Why would you hide yourself? What have you got to hide? Anonymity is associated with trouble makers, hackers, pedophiles and the likes. There is actually no good reason to be anonymous, unless of course you do have something to hide or live in a country where free speech is not your right. It is far easier to control your online presence when you’re honest.

And this brings us to the real reason why having social media profiles is a good idea – it gives you credibility. People will google you, your next employer, boyfriend, future mother in law, certainly potential clients will all go to google, type in your name and check you out. And the less they find about you the more suspicious you become.

Personally I love meeting new people, I love making new connections and I love finding things out about people. There are so many wonderful people out there and now they don’t have to hide it anymore, they can shine and show it by simply being who they are.

No masques, no maskerades, no hiding, no pretending to be somebody else.

I have recently made a new professional connection with someone I stumbled upon on Twitter. By seeing her face, reading her bio, that led me to her blog, I could find out more about this person, who she is, what makes her tick, etc. And it was enough for me to decide, I trust her enough to establish a professional relationship. I don’t really know her and we have yet to make that offline meeting a reality (scheduling is sometimes a bit of a nightmare) but by her giving me a glimpse into her world I could make that connection.

Stick in the sand The real reason why you want to have public social media profiles is to show the world that you’re honest, trustworthy, a real person, with a real name and to put your stick in the sand declaring “this is who I am”. Social media profiles give you the ability to help build that trust with your connections, old and new.

Upon reflecting on the past anonymous IRC chats and today’s open world of Twitter I much prefer the latter. It’s much nicer to speak to real people online instead of avatars. The honesty has just gone up a lot more. There are less trolls around these days simply because you don’t say certain things if there’s a connection between what you say and your real picture and real name.

It has made the whole internet more honest and more connected, people have become very real online.

Being an open book as I am doesn’t mean that everything that is me can be found online. Far from it. I guard my online presence very much. I don’t just say things, I always check whether what I say online fits into the picture I want to portray. This is fairly easy though, what you see is what you get in my case :)

It’s a good idea to ask yourself every time you post something online (even if just to your friends on Facebook or an email to somebody) – would I mind this being published on tomorrow’s newspaper on the front page? That should keep you out of trouble for the most part.

The truth is, we make too much of what people are interested in about us. But that’s human nature and a discussion for another day.

So, stop marketing and starting showing who you really are on social media – a beautiful human being with dreams, wants and wishes!

Oh and I thoroughly believe the same is true for brand and corporate profiles, especially since we know they’re only there to market. How refreshing to see more and more brands use social media to show their own persona. That’s what makes them likeable in the end!

What are your thoughts on this? Have you googled somebody and got frustrated because you couldn’t find anything about them? Have you leaned toward one person more than another based on what you could find online about them?

Generating leads with Social Media