Two interesting posts this week on how our personalities affect our online behavior. First, Paul Dunay (did I mention that Paul is my favorite B2B blogger yet today?) expresses shock that he turned out to be an extrovert on the Myers-Briggs personality test and wonders if you need to be an extrovert to be in social media. Then David Weinberger, big thinker, co-author of the Cluetrain Manifesto (and nice guy) proposed an interesting framework for determining our internet personalities.
Reading these got me thinking that we probably need to rethink the concepts of introversion and extroversion in social media marketing.
Since I’m a completely unqualified to comment on matters of psychology, I immediately came to certainty on Paul’s query (no!) and, of course, came up with a theory.
On the internet, nobody knows you’re a dog
And the fact that I’m writing about it here proves that you don’t need to be an extrovert to be in social media. I am an “I” with a capital I. (Though I can sometimes fake extroversion when I speak in front of a group that doesn’t know me.)
Could I have revealed all that in a casual conversation with someone I don’t know very well? Doubtful. But can I do it on my blog? Hell yeah! (I never say Hell, yeah in real life—well, hardly ever.)
I think social media turns most things we think about innate personality on its ear. Think of how people contract avatars in games that represent the person that they want to be (or are but can’t show).
But as Paul points out, that self is often lazy and fearful. Research has shown that even in lively online communities, only 10% actively contribute, and about 1-2% actively become leaders of topics and post new threads.
How can we help customers be extroverts?
Those numbers look bad, but we have to think of them from our customers’ perspectives. What if you post a thread on a topic that your company doesn’t want you talking about? What if you wind up looking like an idiot in front of your peers and embarrassing yourself and your company?
Now juxtapose that against the wild sharing that we do on personal devices and networks. Many, many people are revealing themselves in ways that they would never do in real life and on Myers-Briggs tests. Twitter is like a virtual table in the bar that everyone is dancing on.
I think for marketers, the issue is less about whether our customers will be more extroverted online—they already are. But how can we create more ways to share safely?
What do you think?
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- Caring for Your Online Introvert (hermenaut.org)