Online Identity Management – Crowd sourcing the Marketing Script

Reflections on our weekly readings on Identity Management… from an ENT2.0 perspective

Background 

When it comes to Enterprise 2.o and concerns for SM integration into the business environment, risk management issues reach the top of the list for concerns for using it and or excuses for avoiding it.  Of course this makes sense, as for many firms – their stock value is only as high as their customer’s regard for their brand.  In most traditional large firms, teams of marketing folks carefully craft the brand image, with skillfully chosen verbiage, logos, fonts and images to convey the essence of their product/service.  To use Goffman’s theater metaphor, this group of “insiders” might be seen to operate like a collaborating group of writers idealizing and producing a script for the inanimate actor… the brand.

While there are many “stage hands” behind the scenes that enable the brand to play its role as the scriptwriters intended, i.e. (designers, manufacturers, customer service support, logistics, etc.), for the most part – it is the marketing arm of the business, (with some occasional help and guidance from the legal department) that is either credited or cursed for the performance of the brand in the marketplace.  The brand image (i.e. identity), is what the marketing team says it is.

Leap forward

Consider now for a moment a brave new world; a business environment where due to transparency and accessibility of Ent. 2.0 tools, the script for the brand is in the hands of the entire firm (more or less).  Through tools that allow us to collaborate both inside and outside of the firm; with our business partners, customers and suppliers, the brand takes on the role as conceived, written and directed by all of the “stage hands” including marketing;  a sort of crowdsourced script for our actor the brand.  It is at this point, the lawyers and financial analyst responsible for risk management are all running for the doors and selling off their company stock.

Step back

The situation with this forward looking Ent 2.0 business environment is only scary, if we doubt the ability(skill/talent), credibility(maturity/wisdom), and intentions(understanding/ethics) of our workforce to effectively communicate brand value.

It is on that note that Ent 2.0, like other forms of social media, are not innately good or bad – they are rather tools for communicating that if improperly managed, can forever damage the identity of the brand (or person) behind them.  In that way, Ent 2.0/SM is no different than other forms of mass media… use them wisely, they are your friend – do otherwise, and you will be picking yourself up off of the Wallstreet trading floor with the other sell-offs.

Importance to Research & Interests

As was suggested by many of our readings, users of the tools should be carefully trained on the ramifications of information put forth; they need to be made aware of analogies like backstage/frontstage; policies for use and control need to be in place before the first Tweet, Blog or Wiki are created to mitigate risk and maximize reward.  In the busy-ness of doing work in the wide open space of social media/Ent 2.0, people need to be made aware and reminded of the need for a split identity.

As I move forward on my case studies, I will be looking for comments around policy and training to see if this idea of “preventative medicine” is part of the  Ent. 2.0 deployment mindset.  I will also look to see if there is any relationship between the absence of these policy and training perspectives and the success/failure/rejection of Ent 2.0.

Personal Identity

On a personal note, my approach for managing my identity online has been one of conservatism.  Essentially, if I control the amount of material associated with my identity out there, then the likelihood of a negative identity is reduced.  I frequently google various versions of my identity to see what comes up, and monitor that for appropriateness.  As is, I limit my web identity to my professional/academic identity or a “secret identity” that has no relation to me whatsoever, and leave the majority of my personal/private identity to be left invisible to the masses.  This is growing harder and harder to do, but I believe from the perspective of my own risk management, this is the right approach for me.