I've always been style conscious. It's the way my mama raised me. I combed fashion magazines and browsed through boutiques from an early age, not just searching for bargains, but for ideas on how to put outfits together. For me, fashion is an artistic expression of who I am, in that moment, for that occasion.
I've had periods in my life where my style fit a certain category -- classic, edgy, romantic, conservative or trendy -- until the day I realized I didn't fit just one label and that my style was a unique and authentic expression of who I am -- a part of the statement I make about my personal brand.
So it's no wonder that I approach my social network interactions with the same consideration.
I'm not talking posting pictures of my newest shoe purchase -- although there might be a moment when I do exactly that. I'm talking the style in which I choose to interact on social networks. In an age when 74 percent of online Adults use social networking sites and 87 percent of all US Adults are online, this deserves some thought.
So I ask you -- do any of these styles sound like you or someone you know?
The Traditionalist -- They engage -- but not too much. They share without comment so we don't really know what they think -- but what they share tends to be useful. They know they have to have some digital presence but secretly wish this social networking thing would all go away. They definitely put thought behind their posts -- perhaps at times, too much.
The Lurker -- The Lurker has a social profile, most likely limited to Facebook to stay connected to family and friends and LinkedIn for professional reasons -- but they don't engage. They observe. They know everything every one of their friends does online. They'll tell you at a cocktail party how they read all your blogs and how much they enjoy them but never once liked or shared any. They're the person who comes to the dance but never dances.
The Trendsetter -- The Trendsetter is not afraid to speak their mind. They share their own ideas and they share others ideas. They seek to influence. They look to see what is trending on Twitter but they also harbor a deep seated desire that one day a hashtag they create will trend worldwide.
The Spewer -- This is the person that any little thing that pops into their heads they feel obligated to share -- like what they had for breakfast that morning or what they think of that car that just cut them off. There is no thought nor any concern for how something might land or what the repercussions might be. They tend to shoot from their hip which appears to be connected 24/7 to their Facebook feed. It's never once crossed their mind that what they are saying now lives for eternity on the Internet.
The Erratic -- You might at first glance confuse the Erratic with the Spewer. This is because while there is no consistency in their social presence, when they do decide to interact they try to make up for lost time by posting a dozen links, one after the other, without coming up for air and usually unrelated to each other. There might be something really terrific in there they are sharing -- but you'll never find it because it is resembling the Spewer, who you stopped paying attention to a long time ago.
The Attention-Getter -- Like the Spewer it might at first glance seem as if there was absolutely no thought whatsoever in that seemingly inconsiderate or irreverent comment they just posted or outlandish picture they put up on Instagram -- but the truth is -- there probably was. Think Miley Cyrus. Her social network interactions may seem to have occurred in a moment of haste, but my personal belief is that they are part of a grander marketing plan created with intention.
The Non-Responder -- They post. Constantly. All day long. They may even have a huge following -- in the hundreds of thousands. But they never acknowledge a comment. They want to be heard. But they are not interested in listening. They seem to not understand that what has made social networking grow exponentially is that it is about engagement and conversation -- not simply pushing messages. Think the big corporation who is using new digital tools and old marketing methods.
The Eclectic -- The Eclectic mixes it all up. They interact differently on different social networks. They are more likely to press pause and think before hitting publish. They understand that engaging as a two-way street is what makes social networking so powerful. They think. They understand their personal brand now lives online -- forever and that they are in a position to take control. They know their digital selves might very well be the first impression someone has of them and that there is no delete button on the Internet.
This is where I strive to live.
But no matter which style category I fall into on a particular day, the one constant is that in the same manner that I pause to check the weather before I choose the shoes I wear, I take a moment to think before I post.