Online Personas: To Aggregate or Compartmentalize?

I just had an interesting talk with Sugar co-founder Clint Oram and Gartner analyst Jim Davies. We were talking about everything from next generation CRM/call center solutions, to SaaS in the call center, to the evolution of enterprise feedback and social networks.

The final area sparked an interesting discussion. Jim made an interesting point that for marketers, the social networking angle presents a challenge and an opportunity because while we are now becoming “online, all the time” we are also creating different personas depending on the social network, the scenario, etc.

So, whole my Facebook profile may depict me as a fun, loving, motorcycle riding musician, my LinkedIn profile shows my business-minded side. My blog, a mixture of the two, etc.

Now, for our own personalities it makes sense to show our different sides at different times. For marketers trying to reach people, it would make sense if our online personas were aggregated: allowing marketers to have one overarching record of “you” but segmenting you into different promotions or campaigns based on the different attributes of your overall persona. For the individual, it may seem best to keep your personas separate. After all, there are some things you might not want the business world to know about you…

Ultimately, I think it will boil down to individual taste and choice. There will be aspects that marketers can aggregate – because consumers will willingly allow this type of data aggregation. And for many, they will simply wish to keep their varied online lives separate.

In the virtual world, just like in real life, it takes all kinds…

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