Monday, February 6, 2012

The Three “Ps” of Identity: Presentation, Protection, & Preference (plus a look at Facebook profiles vs. pages)

Fabruary 6, 2012. 1.

Allison Cerra writing on Brian Solis’ blog.  I stole a decent chunk but the entire post is worth a read.

What’s Love Got to Do with It? The 3P’s of Identity - Brian Solis:

We visited with respondents in 30 homes across the country, observing them for hours in their natural habitats going about their ordinary day. We followed up with a quantitative study to more than 5,000 consumers across the US from teens to mid-lifers to isolate psychometrics, behaviors and values. Our goal was ambitious: How do the devices and networks connecting us each day affect our view of ourselves and those serving us?

To answer the question, we first had to understand how respondents view themselves in the networked world that keeps them connected. Through the research, we derived the 3P model of identity.

First, there’s presentation, which speaks to the image I attempt to reflect depending on my context. Before the days of devices connecting us in a 24×7 always-on world, life was simpler. Specifically, managing my image was simpler. My presentation at work may have been different from that at home, church, social gatherings or other venues. But, the networked community surrounding us demands a pervasive and constant reflection of who we are. And, I am no longer in control of how I appear, but anyone with an opportune cameraphone or texting fingers is capable of casting my image in the light they see fit.

Next, there’s protection, in which my worldview shapes what I choose to reveal or conceal about myself and loved ones. Protection-centric stories typically steal the headline of the day – whether it be in their scorn of companies that suffer security breaches or some other misstep in infringing customer privacy. Predictably, the public is fascinated with tales that expose how vulnerable we can be in the virtual world that surrounds us. Not all violations are created equal of course; an annoying spam message doesn’t carry the same consequence as a debilitating identity theft crime. In the protection realm, navigating the connected world requires an ability to discern innocuous from more harmful threats – despite not having our more primal, physical sensory capabilities to arm us in doing so.

Finally, preference is a psychological orientation toward targeted products, services and individuals. There is an abundance of choice in a hyper-connected world. Preference seekers long for the targeted offers or opportunities that appear just at precisely the moment they need them. Even better, these individuals crave personalized options that magically materialize even before a conscious need arises. In this space, the constellation of mouse clicks, channel changes and location updates presents a compelling view of who I actually am through my behaviors.

The 3 Ps exist in each of us simultaneously. While some of us may more psychometrically align with one P in particular, we make conscious and unconscious tradeoffs between all three multiple times each day. Should I post that picture about myself on my social networking page? It depends on how strongly I believe it aligns with a particular presentation important for the unique audience. Should I reveal my location to others through my social networking updates? It depends on how protective I am of leaking such information compared to how strongly I prefer a targeted interaction or service benefitting from the same. Should I opt-in to receive targeted advertisements? It depends on how certain I am that such personalized information will be used to help me, not harm me.

Another in a series of recent posts on Solis’ blog where he is presenting some very interesting metrics while not necessarily telling us how to apply them.  However, the application is fairly obvious with most of them.

This one, obviously, is a way to look at both how we present ourselves and how we  understand our customers.  In my particular case, my customers are the readers of my blogs and my followers on social media. What is suggested to me, though, is that how we present ourselves via these Three Ps will determine which customers engage with our content.  This is not a chicken and egg approach; here, A does come before B.

This is particularly interesting to me today.  Today I am  realigning how I present content on my Facebook profile and pages.  Before, I used my personal profile as a portal to the content I created, and then threw a bunch of links and images into the mix as well.  In many ways, this watered down my own content and much of it got lost in the torrent of information. 

But this was not the only drawback.  My two primary blogs are Rubble, which is primarily used to present my nature photography, and Democracy In Distress, which is primarily used to argue my political views.  Because of this, most of the content on my Facebook profile was links to artistic articles, photos, and videos, and links to political content centered around a center-left viewpoint.

I think the problem is pretty clear. 

There are not a lot of analytics available for personal profiles on Facebook.  I am pretty sure that I lost few “friends” after posting a picture of Mt.Hood, but I know I lost “friends” after posting too many anti-Republican articles in a row, some disagreeing with my politics, some because they just did not want any politics in their feed at all.  This was not the content they were interested in and my one or two photos a day were no match for the much more ubiquitous political postings when making a decision on whether or not to friend or un-friend me.

So I have a presentation issue affecting my online identity.  In my case, somehow I ended up gaining a pretty solid following around the politics, most of my followers, “friends,” who were not people I actually knew in the real world, were there for the politics, not for the photography.  My efforts in the artistic realm were being buried and lost in the flood of political material I was posting to keep the majority of my profile’s followers interested.

Presentation is not my only problem.  Because I have been using my personal profile as more of a page than a profile, I also have a protection issue.

With a page, the goal is to get as many followers as possible.  To get as many eyes on my content as possible.  I do not need to or even want to know all of them personally.  And with pages, this is fine.  However, when following this practice with my personal profile, this creates some problems.

Between friends on Facebook, some layers of protection are eliminated since we are supposed to be responsible for those layers of protection ourselves, not the site itself.  We are supposed to be vetting our friends, and once they get through our gate, they then have increased access to the profiles on our friends list.  Of course, every user can tweak their setting controlling the amount of access these friends of friends have to their own profiles, but the default settings are pretty open.

These friends of friends also can send messages to the people on our lists.  They can whether or not they are our friends, but with access to our lists they can also send messages such as, “Hey, since we both know that Litt guy, why don’t you check out my totally worthless spam and my potentially hazardous link?  You know Litt wouldn’t lead you astray, right?”

No, I wouldn’t.  Intentionally.  Especially if I am using my profile correctly.  However, using it as a page, while trying to vet most of my followers to some degree, some bad seeds do slip through since I am inclined to give the benefit of the doubt to new contacts.

This happened to me recently, and it was the final factor leading up to the changes I am implementing today.

After a couple weeks of warning, I am moving the majority of the political content to a page for the Democracy In Distress blog.  This is certain.  I am, for now, also moving the photography to my new A. F. Litt page (as opposed to my personal profile).  This way, those who do not care for the political content can enjoy the photography, and those who enjoy the politics can be spared the landscapes pictures, etc. if they wish. 

It streamlines and clarifies my presentation, targets my specific followers better, and it creates a more secure environment for my existing friends while still allowing me to purse new, unvented followers.

Unfortunately, it is not a win-win scenario.  In Game Theory, it is a non-zero sum scenario.

Overall, I may not lose any followers or friends, but I will, hopefully only for the short term, be sacrificing click throughs to my blogs and other online accounts.  My Facebook profile is my second largest traffic source behind Google Search, with and Pinterest coming in third.

By not posting these links on my profile, I could be reducing my traffic by quite a bit (not to mention killing my Klout score!), but I do not want to flood my friends’ feeds with multiple posts of identical links.  Already, my most dedicated followers have “liked” the pages they are interested in, and hopefully, overtime, the new pages will build the following my profile has.

Because of this, these changes were not the easiest choices to make.  There were some difficult decisions involved.  But it is better to do this when I am approaching 600 followers instead of approaching 5000 followers. 

If I could go back and do this all over again, I would have created these pages as soon as I revived the Rubble and Democracy In Distress sites last year.  In the future, putting together a social media marketing campaign, there would be no question of this.

However, there was not a lot of planning going on last year as my blogs slowly came back to life.  I was posting here and there for the fun of it and the idea that I would start getting the traffic on these blogs that I am never crossed my mind.  By the time I realized that things were taking off I was just rolling with it.  Only over the last few months have I sat down and tried to bring some order to the chaos.

The fact that I would need to migrate my content to pages was obvious then.  The only question was when.  Now, or wait until my friends list reached its upper limit?  The protection factor was the deciding factor in making this change now.  Also, I’ve seen too many people trapped with having to maintain identical content on two different pages/profiles – profile content for their first 5000 followers and page content for everyone who came along later. 

Another trap I’ve noticed is accounts with 5000 friends on the profile and nine followers of the page. 

By making this change now I hope to avoid both of those problems in the future.

Really, what I am doing on Facebook is no different that what I did with my blogs last year, I sorted the content by subject matter, knowing that some people would be interesting in certain topics more than others.  While with the RubbleSites, this has led to five different blogs (Arts & Sciences, Music, Politics, Tech & New Media, and Family Life & Parenting), I am breaking these five down into three pages on Facebook: Music (Retrovirus Lab), Politics, and everything else, with the everything else being split between my personal Page and Profile depending on the content’s presentation and protection factors.   

I will depart with humor.  This was spotted by Kelly Rossi on Facebook earlier.

I like the last one.  I still haven’t figured out why G+ is worth my time, other than maintaining some place holders just in case it takes off in the future.

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