I have written some time ago about the establishment of different identities in the online world. In the article, I have argued about how Internet has changed the way people representing themselves in public sphere which social media is regarded as. The need to display one’s true self is gradually overshadowing the perception about SNSs as a tool to subconsciously build of a preferred self. Recently, I’ve got a chance to observe something much clearer and more interesting, the monetization of personal social media accounts, or in other words, your personalities.
Once my internship’s supervisor has told me about when you are meeting a client, it’s not that you are selling tangible products or services, you are actually selling your personalities. The idea stuck me hard and made me think a lot about professional relationships in which likeability can be a real deciding factor of a deal. But what I’d like to mention here is the transformation of this idea into mass commercialisation of online identities. People are trying to make themselves widely known, and the benefits cultivated are beyond personal gratification but financial gains.
The quantification of popularity into measurable level of online engagement (i.e. the number of followers, likes, comments, shares from personal posts) has been conveniently facilitating the phenomenon, making it easier to spot the influencers or opinion leaders. Opinion leaders love to express their views, followers like or even admire what opinion leaders have said and brand managers adore the fact that they can approach and influence influencers. Brands thus are being mentioned into seemingly personal content, some even so sophisticated that some can easily mistaken it as earned media. The best part is that the usual negativity associated with advertising is eliminated to a certain extent.
Nonetheless, from the social point of view, the downside of this is arguably the loss of authentic content which is meant to convey someone’s self. Contradictions coming from the initial impetus for social media to grow profoundly is to connect each others deeply by encouraging self revelation. Yet, personality as a commodity is somehow distorting the types of information exposed by users. Making yourself standing out involves selectively and carefully crafted details rather than speaking-from-my-heart kinds of info. Personal purposes when using social media is now giving way to a more professional motive, consequently, it’s not about expressing oneself but building an image that is appealing and receptive to the mass.
I find it quite funny that while writing those lines, there is a small part in me whining to myself asking whether I should find a way to make myself more popular on social media. Of course, there are some concerns following that thought, (1) do I have something really special to make it happen? (2) am I doing it because of the desire to be known and acknowledged or because of the monetary rewards? (3) will I need to trade off too much of my privacy in order to achieve this goal? And since those haven’t been cleared yet, I chose to continue to observe this digital world then 😉