December 3, 2008
At our Good Ideas in 2009: Digital salon yesterday, much of the conversation surrounded how our online identities are created, both actively - through our own decisions of what we share about ourselves - and passively - through the actions and perceptions of others. Given that we only have control over half of that equation, how do we ensure that the best and brightest portrait of ourselves is seen by the wider community?
Piers posited his “Red Coat, Black Coat” theory back in 2006, which proved to be a harbinger of conversations to come about approaches to online privacy as the internet extends its reach further into our daily activities. At yesterday’s session, two methods became most evident: one centers around greater transparency. By choosing to let every detail out into the public sphere by our own hand, we’re able to send a clear message that says “this is who I am and I’m okay with that.” Of course, this is a bit of a risky proposition, but a more complex picture with all of its strengths and flaws, is certainly a truer one as well.
The other view that operates alongside the above idea of being “free and open,” is to take a more dynamic role participating in the feedback loop. Developing relationships with not only your friends, but your critics as well, promotes conversation and can lead to understanding.
These lessons don’t only apply to our individual profiles anymore either, but speak to the larger identities being developed at the level of corporations and brands too. Building on this platform, we’re witnessing a trend of businesses starting to raise the bar in terms of the amount and type information being provided to the public, while at the same engaging consumers on a more personal basis.
Online retailer Zappos was mentioned during yesterday’s session as one company that has been able to implement this model in a positive way through the context of their social media-styled employee blogs. Other examples that illustrate this new movement include user generated review sites like TripAdvisor and Yelp that enable businesses to directly respond to their costumers and GM Facts and Fiction, an attempt by General Motors to dispel rumors about the current state of their company.
As we begin to see successes from the early adopters of this paradigm shift, we expect more companies will jump aboard and participate. This trend can only lead to a richer consumer experience for all involved.
[image via Michael Martin]