I lead a double life… in which I’m far from alone. Most of us have multiple identities. At a minimum, we distinguish and maintain boundaries between our work and family/community lives. Online, that means keeping professional social networking separate from friends & family nets. Me, I use LinkedIn exclusively for work and Facebook for family, friends, and community. I have a couple of separate Twitter accounts. I recognize that most of what interests my work network is going to be a total bore for my brother-in-law. Only on topic-focused platforms such as Yelp does the personal/professional dichotomy not matter.
But my situation is more complicated: I have two professional identities. I have two distinct paid jobs with two non-intersecting networks. I spend most of my time covering text analytics, sentiment analysis, and data visualization as an IT industry analyst and consultant. (Check out my up-coming Sentiment Analysis Symposium conference in New York.) And I’m an elected government official, serving on the Takoma Park, Maryland city council. Believe me, the jobs don’t mix.
Professional networking means LinkedIn, yet I’m in the awkward position of turning down legitimate LinkedIn connection requests that don’t fit my LinkedIn focus. I reserve Linkedin for my 40-hour per week (hah!) job, so I ax invitations from political and community and contacts. Sorry!
Wouldn’t it be great if LinkedIn created the concept of personas, of different faces shown to different cohorts, reflecting our collective multiple personalities?
No, I’m not going to create distinct, separate LinkedIn accounts, one for each role. LinkedIn doesn’t allow the practice. (“To use the Services, you agree that… you will only have one LinkedIn account, which must be in your real name,” per the User Agreement.) Put aside that curating a LinkedIn profile is hard work. Applications (including apps and Web browsers) don’t support login to more than one account at a time, so you’d have to use a different for each of your accounts. Given the widespread use of Oauth for networked service authentication, you’d face major inconvenience.
What would LinkedIn profile personas look like? Facebook has something similar figured out, via the ability to create a page (which will have its own, distinct URL/address) and the ability to designate “Who should see this?” for the content you post. This stuff isn’t the same as ability to maintain multiple personas within a single account, but it works for Facebook. Google+, of course, similarly allows selective sharing with designated circles and communities.
So LinkedIn, what I want is this:
- A distinct tag-line, background photo, and Background-section summary for each persona.
- Ability to select the elements that are shown in the Experience, Skills, Organizations, Honors & Awards, and other sections, and to control their order.
- Ability to associate Recommendations, Groups (group memberships), etc. with a persona.
- Ability to separate Connections by persona, and to determine which set(s) of connections see a given status update, photo, or post.
Doable? I’d think so.
What’s in it for LinkedIn?
Satisfaction. Loyalty. Expanded use, because if we could create personas, we’d connect with a whole lot more people and post many more Linked updates.
LinkedIn, do you recognize that one-size-fits-each doesn’t cut it in today’s complex social world? Personas. I have more than one. LinkedIn can match my multiple-personality needs by becoming a multi-faceted social platform.
What do you say?