September 30, 2014

Should Your Social Media Profiles Be Anonymous?

Anonymous

One subject that I’ve never touched on in a blog post is the decision of linking your social media profiles to your blog. I’m not necessarily talking about creating a link that people can click on (although that’s involved in some cases) as much as I’m talking about making it obvious for onlookers to know that your social media profile is associated with your blog. For example, my Mixx profile is vandelay, my del.icio.us profile is vandelaydesign. In both cases it’s not to difficult for anyone who cares to notice that those profiles are associated with my primary blog, Vandelay Design.

Some social media users, like me, use their business name, blog name, or real name in their profile or username of social media sites. Some social media sites, like StumbleUpon, also give you the chance to link to your website or blog from your profile page, which is another way of identifying yourself. Other social media users prefer to be anonymous so that their username can’t be traced to them.

Which Approach Should You Use and Why?

The first thing to consider is, do you care if other people know that your profile belongs to you? If you plan to use social media for networking purposes, it’s good to have a profile that’s obviously associated with you and your blog so that others can easily recognize you.

Remember that your actions at social media sites can impact your personal or professional image and branding. What types of items are you submitting and voting up? What comments are you leaving? Who are you associating with? Will these things help or hurt your image?

Reasons that you would want to remain anonymous include submitting your own posts and submitting/voting for clients as a paid consultant. Neither is against the terms of use for most social media sites, but it can have an impact on the results.

Personally, I’ve never deliberately chosen a username with the intent of concealing my identity. Ever since I’ve known much at all about social media I have seen the networking and branding benefits as being reason enough to make myself clearly seen. Yes, at some sites such as Design Float you will see a submission linking to vandelaydesign.com that was submitted by the user vandelay. It’s pretty obvious in that case that I submitted something from my own site. At some social media sites I submit my own work, and at others I don’t. I think you need to evaluate the community of each site to decide what’s best. When I do submit my own work I’d rather make it clear that I am doing so, which shows that you’re not trying to hide anything or fool anyone.

In some situations, such as Digg profiles, it can be dangerous to make your identity known if you are in the SEO/SMM business. In this case I would consider an anonymous profile, but in general I prefer to be transparent.

What’s Your Opinion?

How do you feel about the issue? Under what circumstances would you use an anonymous profile?

About Steven Snell

Steven is a web designer, blogger, and freelance writer.

6 comments

  1. I have the same profile name on all the social media sites jotoole4. I also submit all of my own posts to sites like stumbleupon, twitter, plurk and at times digg. I can see how it may look bad but I think since I’m just starting out its necessary and I’m letting my content speak for itself and in doing so I don’t think people consider it spam. I am however cautious at times about what page I “like” on stumble or “digg” I keep my professional image in my head but only to a point.

  2. I try to be pretty cognizant of my professional image when I post anything on social networks (or even on the web). Even if I have different profiles for my company and for me personally, my name is still tied to my company. I treat anything I post on the web as something that is part of me (professional or personally) that I’m ok with being around forever. I think it is better to err on the side of being visible as far as posting to social networks because even anonymous or hidden accounts may have a way to get back to you. Like Jared, I do take this image into account as far as what I add. If I was submitting something for a client that I didn’t want as part of my personal/professional image, I would consider using an anonymous account, but a better solution would be to create an account with their name so that the action is visible to their customers, etc.

  3. Jared,
    As a new blogger it basically is necessary for you to submit your own posts. I wouldn’t worry about it as long as you’re happy with the quality and they’re relevant to the sites that you’re submitting. The only other option would be to get a friend to submit it.

    Sarah,
    Good point about it being around forever. That’s easy to forget sometimes.

  4. Honestly,

    I would have to say privacy isn’t that big of deal. If someone wants to know about you they can find out if they really want to. Like you mentioned, networking is important and the advantages of building your brand and your name are too great of an opportunity to keep hidden from others.

    I guess the biggest fear some people may have is if they fail or do something embarrassing in public.

  5. Thats a nice post.

    I have always stuck to the same profile across the multitude of sites I sign up for. As long as you do not wish to remain anonymous. Its better to create a brand, an online identity, an alter ego which your real life and online friends can identify
    But Steve is right, because if you say something embarrassing in public, its going to get to you; sooner or later.

  6. Steve,
    Privacy isn’t a big deal to most of us, but if you’re a consultant who is working for clients there may be a need or a desire for privacy. I know a few friends that have aomewhat anonymous accounts for this reason. Sure, some people are going to know who they are, but it’s not obvious or broadcasted. I agree with you though that networking and branding far outweighs the need to be anonymous for most of us.

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