This post isn’t intended to dispense career or personal branding advice. Rather, I’m hoping it will stir conversation, or at least thought.
This morning as I drove to work, NPR was airing a piece (text version is here) on what they present as something of a new trend of female pop stars creating and, in some ways, hiding behind personae.
Through the piece, which focuses on acts like Lada Gaga and Nicki Minaj, the implication is made that this is increasingly comfortable for audiences due to individual’s ability to re-create themselves online via social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.
Here is part of the piece: “This generation really gets alter egos. They also have a personal stash of identities for different situations — they’re constantly deploying different versions of themselves online: one for Facebook, one for Twitter, one for going out at night.”
While I really find nothing particularly new about persona shifting acts like Lada Gaga and Nicki Minaj (have these folks never heard of Ziggy Stardust or Alice Cooper?), I did see a connection between three ideas: 1) social media allows for persona development; 2) people are comfortable with the concept of the persona; 3) personal branding and social media are supposed to be driven by authenticity.
Is it not the case that authenticity, which we hear (and hear and hear and hear and, even from my colleagues here) is a foundation and touchstone of online marketing and personal branding, trumps persona?
Or is it the case that the authenticity vs. persona debate is contextual? For some groupings of people, does not having a persona make total sense as a personal brand? Clearly we have many examples in pop culture of successful personal brands that are based on persona. But, does it only work in the pop culture world? Who else would a persona work for? What about the entrepreneur, digital or otherwise? Does Penelope Trunk’s story not fit into this dialog somewhere?
So, this is going to be a short post. But, I’d love to have folks comment and share their thoughts. Here’s a poll to get things started:
- Authentic always
- Personae as you please
- Both are totally fine, as context dictates
Please chime in!