Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Importance of Being Transparent

When it comes to managing an online personality, I believe one of the most (perhaps the most) important principles to follow is to be transparent. For a brand, that means not being gimmicky, and delivering messages consistent with the brand's promise. For a person, it means being honest. That does not mean that I am recommending posting intimate details online; however, it is important to be real with your audience if you want them to stick around. I have the following example to illustrate my point:

There is a girl I am Facebook friends with from high school. She consistently updates her profile picture to images of models. What bothers me about this practice is that she does it to suggest that she is actually the girl in the photos. She has long, dark hair, and she chooses pictures of girls whose faces are partially concealed or distorted so that they resemble her own features. But honey, there is a reason those photos have such a low resolution, and if I can google an image you have posted as your profile picture and find an advertisement for Urban Outfitters or some other indie inspired webpage, I know it isn't you. I think what irritates me most about her pictures is that she continues to promote that these images are of herself in the interactions she has with her friends. Someone will leave a comment such as: "You're so beautiful!" and she'll respond, "Thanks :)." Or in one case someone asked, "where is this?" and she wrote "the Ohio river." It makes me want to put my two cents in with a comment like "what?? How would you know? This picture is obviously not you, and it makes me a little bit sick that you would be so dishonest with the people you call your friends to try to mislead them into thinking that it is." I suppose at the end of the day, her profile pictures are really of no consequence to me, they just rub me the wrong way, and I think that this irritation is typical of my generation.

As a member of Generation Y (or the Millennials), I am in an age cohort that does not respond to marketing tactics the same way. Rapid technological advancement has caused my generation  to question marketers' messages. To reach us, the interaction needs to change. It needs to be personal and and it needs to be honest. That means less mass communication and more conversation. Which is what I hope to accomplish.

In this blog, I am essentially managing a part of my own brand. That means I am going to use the above values I have mentioned in my own writing. I can write professionally, but my entries will be informal. I am choosing to communicate with my audience like I would a friend rather than the way I would if I was writing a cover letter for a prospective job. Also, contrary to what I have been taught as an artist and as a business woman, I will be giving away all my trade secrets. I think Facebook is on to something by promising to always be free for members. Really, I think that is the way the internet should be. It is very frustrating for me when I find a project I want to work on, but I have to dig through hundreds of search results to find a source that will give me instructions for free. Therefore, I will be doing the opposite. When I create something I like, I will let you know how to make it too, with detailed instructions.

As I mentioned before, I will be working on generating conversations. That can only work with a little audience interaction though. So let me know what you think, and let's start talking!

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