A discussion on having multiple online identities – a marketing view

Your online identity (ID) is a sum of your characteristics and interactions when you use the internet (Cameron, 2005). Shown on the graphic below from we are social, 50% of the world’s population uses the internet and 37% are active social media users. With the growing influence of social communities on our day to day lives (e.g. for business, banking and socialising) we’re experiencing an increasing need to manage our online ID.

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Figure 1 (Nazir , 2017)

The TED talk below by Ulrike Schultze explores the topic on how social media shapes our identities. 

With a variety of different social communities available online we have begun to alter what we share within them, to match the audience’s interests. This has organically made us have more than one online ID.  The graphic below is a reflection of my online ID in different online commuinties.

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Figure 2  – created on Canva

This article from ‘the guardian’ talks about whether authenticity or anonymity online is more important which leads us to discuss the arguments for and against having multiple online ID’s.

Andrew Lewman argues that the anonymity that comes with having multiple online ID’s gives us control to be creative, explore our identity and not tie topics we may research to our real name for perpetuity (Krotoski, 2017). I agree with Lewman, however I believe it’s becoming impossible to not tie our online activity to our online ID even if we have multiple. The Missguided advert on my Facebook homepage (figure 3) appeared directly after I browsed the Missguided website. Targeted advertising is a product of social websites enforcing the idea of having solely one online ID. How many times have you signed up to something with your Facebook account? Actions like these help companies to better track our digital footprints and know exactly where our interests lie.

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Figure 3

Conversely, online anonymity may not always be a benefit. If you wish to use online communities to grow as a brand, having multiple online ID’s cancels out the power of brand continuity for business success. Remember that the more often customers see the same message or image, the more likely they’ll retain it (Walsall , 2013). This is why many famous online personas (e.g. Zoella – figure 4) link their varied online accounts together. Instead of having multiple accounts to stay anonymous, they value the power of having multiple accounts to raise brand awareness and grow their online presence in a wider scale by sharing the same content throughout.

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Figure 4 – edited on picmonkey

 

References

Cameron, K. (2005) ‘What is a digital identity?’, 7 March. Available at: https://www.identityblog.com/?p=213 (Accessed: 24 February 2017).
Krotoski, A. (2017) Online identity: Is authenticity or anonymity more important? Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2012/apr/19/online-identity-authenticity-anonymity (Accessed: 26 February 2017).
Nazir, M. (2017) Digital in 2017: Global overview. Available at: http://wearesocial.com/blog/2017/01/digital-in-2017-global-overview (Accessed: 26 February 2017).
Walsall, M. (2013) Importance of brand continuity. Available at: https://www.b2bmarketing.net/en-gb/resources/blog/importance-brand-continuity (Accessed: 26 February 2017).
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10 thoughts on “A discussion on having multiple online identities – a marketing view

  1. Hi Ellie,

    Your article analysing the matter of multiple online identities from a marketing perspective is very insightful. I really appreciate that you shared your personal experience with us through the Missguided example. How did you feel when you saw the advert coming up on your news feed? Do you appreciate when you see companies trying to manage their relationship with you through really performant CRM systems or do you feel harassed? How do they make you feel? Special or targeted?
    In regards with your following point, let’s assume that you follow an influencer with a powerful personal brand, that is approached by companies for promotion purposes. Are you more likely to purchase the product or service? Do you think that the influencers bring extra value to you by using their online identity to rate what they promote, even if they mention that it’s an advert (see the example below)?
    Looking forward for your response!

    Andrei

    (156 words)

    Example: http://imgur.com/mLwXSa8

    Like

    1. Hi Andrei ,

      Thank you for taking the time to read my post!

      Regarding the Missguided advert, it makes me feel both special and targeted. I like the way they know exactly what items i may like to purchase but sometimes it can feel like I’m being targeted; such as when it drives me to make an impulse purchase. On another note, i do appreciate CRM systems and i don’t feel harassed by these targeted adverts as it has become a part of my feed; its normal to see them and easy to not pay too much attention to them.

      When influencers review a product i will admit that it drives me to research the product and sometimes even purchase it. In regards to whether i believe influencers bring extra value, i would strongly agree that they do to the extent that it’s done in moderation. I feel that if too many influencers are promoting the same product it can raise the view of false advertising such as the example you’ve given above; too many influencers have done promotion for ‘HiSmile’. What about you? Do you value the opinion of digital influencers?

      Eloane

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi Ellie,

        Thanks for your reply! I really appreciate your point of view and even more… I’m sharing it! Regarding the opinions of digital influencers, I praise them and very often I listen to them before purchasing something. I am a follower of Casey Neistat, a film-marker that is extremely popular at the moment and he is truly bombarded by freebies sent by companies to promote them. He always states – when it’s the case – that his reviews are not a commercial and that he is not being paid by the companies to do them. Thereby, if he has something negative to say about them he will do it. I appreciate his style and I really praise his comments as a consumer. Hope this answers your questions. 🙂

        I’m looking forward for your following posts!

        Andrei

        Like

  2. Hey Ellie,

    I enjoyed watching the Ted Talk video that you posted on your blog. I was not aware that Facebook used an algorithm to decide whether your post appears on other people´s news feed.

    You mentioned that you believed it was impossible to not tie your online activity to yourself. Why do you believe that? I believe that as long as you are not expressing yourself inappropriately online, that you can easily maintain an anonymous profile.

    Towards the end of your blog you spoke about targeted advertisement and showed us a screenshot of the brand Missguided appearing on your Facebook news feed. In your opinion, do you feel that today’s digital footprints is taking it too far or do you view it as a benefit?

    Your blog mainly focused on companies, I therefore found an article on identity fraud which focuses more on the negative impacts that can occur to an individual while being active online: http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-36701297

    Keep up the good work,

    Sharon

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Eloane! Loved your perspective on the topic this week!

    When talking about the different social media communities we use, you mention that ‘we have begun to alter what we share within them, to match the audience’s interests.’ Do you think that it’s possible that the audience’s interests match our posts based on what we initially share? Take Instagram for example, within this social media platform there are many different communities, such as photography, modelling, and your travelling and outfit photos. Did you start your Instagram based on what you thought the audience would be interested in? Or do you think the audience formed based on what you’d been sharing already?

    Also, I definitely agree with your point on people using multiple accounts to raise brand awareness! I hadn’t thought about it until I read your post, but it’s true how they share the same post across many platforms in order to gain the greatest reach amongst their followers!

    Andy

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Andy,

      Thank you for your comment!

      It’s interesting you mentioned the possibility of gaining followers based on what you originally post – I had forgotten about this topic. I agree that you can gain followers with what you originally share as that is the organic way to gain a following and the way it was originally done; people connecting with each other because they share similar interests.

      I personally started my Instagram to follow the content of my favourite online influencers but i can admit that i have posted content due to seeing a high interest in them e.g. food posts.

      Eloane

      Like

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