Social media platforms have begun to undermine conventional marketing strategies for traditional brands as Twitter feeds and YouTube parodies deconstruct and redefine their meaning via the almighty “world of mouth.” Where brand truisms were once decided over an afternoon Scotch with Don Draper, today we find ourselves belaboring over an Instagram hashtag to understand how it has so quickly re-purposed our brand essence without us. Not only must brands now continually keep tabs on their consumers but also on their clear and purposeful messaging across media platforms. If not, they risk having little impact or relevance, no matter how timely their Facebook responses or photo updates.
And what about the influence of social media on our own personal brands? The same rules seem to apply.
The way corporate brands have sought to convey consistent messaging is similar to the way many millennials have begun to convey their own personal brands. And social media platforms have only fueled our desire to build social capital. The Web is no longer a place where anonymity rules or boorish alter egos come out to play. We now live in it and our identities have become bound and defined by it. Case in point: consider the amount of time we spend filtering Instagram pictures. Earlybird, Lo-fi, or Hefe? Alarming.
The world of nonstop status updates have forced us to be strategic and particular about the ways we self promote. How do we stick out? How are we going to be remembered? In the world of social media, lasting impressions are made only if we promote our brand consistently—across Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, and now (drumroll) Tinder.
Newly formed habits or unpredictable behaviors must be spared in order to leverage our ownable strengths. The Web is too big of a playground for people to showcase multiple areas of expertise. You can’t be seen as the funny friend if your personal media content ranges from self-deprecating humor to high-end fashion. Even more important than owning a descriptor is the integrity that’s at stake (albeit, online) with contradictory tendencies. Human beings are inclined to embrace consistency in their commitments, attitudes and actions in a variety of situations as it strengthens our identities. Nobody wants to bear the scrutiny of “poser-like” behavior, especially online, where all of our worlds collide.
Facebook’s imminent launch of “graph search”—a tool that allows users to locate any information relative to their friend’s photos and interests—will be akin to the ease of Googling a restaurant location nearby, and will further expose our online behaviors (assuming this information is shared, of course). These refined search methods will instantly reveal “Photos of Meg, from 2009-2011.” As our interests and online lives become more accessible and inextricable, will the pressure to withstand the creation of different online identities and images increase?
As is, our streamlined personalities are becoming self-contained and homogenous, reducing the reality of human complexity to “like” clicks, @ user names, RT’s and getting “linked in.”