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Style points, eh? Hey, it ain’t ice skating … or is it?

Chances are, virtually every nuance of your personal and professional persona is being judged as meticulously in your online presence as it would be at a formal dinner party.

Your bad breath may not matter, and perhaps your looks don’t matter much online (though if your Facebook photo is bleary enough to drive potential network partners into the barrow ditch, you might want to consider engaging a perky avatar).

But those are about the ONLY features of your “human being-ness” that don’t matter online.

Wake up on the grumpy side of the bed? It’s only natural that the bad karma emanating from your very fingertips will be transmitted through the keyboard and into the chat forum you just logged into.

Feel like your 147 I.Q. entitles you to feel superior? Well, that superiority complex is likely to make it more than a little difficult getting what you to want out of a virtual partnership.


Truth is, picking the right “social engagement style” is one of the first things to consider when entering the world of commercial social media. And it’s one of the last. And should be considered at plenty of middle points, too.

And, if you’ve got a marketing intern plugging content onto your website and into the blogosphere, check that content early and often for lapses in maturity, or for syntax that sounds like a rapper at an off-campus nightspot. Who knows? That intern may not be entirely motivated by the $7.85 an hour you’re paying, and a bad attitude is creating a LinkedIn chain that would do Jacob Marley proud.

(Think it can’t happen to you? Just remember the brouhaha that arose when a Domino’s Pizza employee uploaded a disastrous video about the company’s hygiene standards to YouTube, sparking a worldwide viral campaign that cost the pizza-maker plenty of dough.)

Matthew Latkiewicz of recently compiled a list of personalities, along with some pros and cons of assuming one or another persona. Latkiewicz identified these five creatures:

  • The Gameshow Host
  • Your Friendly Neighborhood Service Rep
  • The Beehive
  • The Community Builder
  • The Friend

“It is important that you think through how you want to engage your customers on Twitter and elsewhere on the social web,” Latkiewicz advises. “It’s important to stay true to your brand but also to make clear the ways in which your customer engagement style furthers the type of relationship you want with your customers and potential customers.”

Sallie Burnett
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