I've been a little cryptic about my whereabouts today, but now the cat is out of the bag. The first piece of media came out of The Vancouver Sun in an article titled, Your Online Persona Reflects Your True Image:
"'Ultimately we are moving towards a day and age when our lives are really melding in what we do in the real world and what we do online,' said the Montreal-based Joel, known also by his online persona and brand - Mitch Joel. 'They are becoming true representations of what we are and what we do... You go online and you look up people and you see what they are about. For some reason we seem to think people don't think they do it for us but they do.'
Three in 10 are hoping to use it to boost their careers and one quarter of those surveyed say they have already used the Internet to promote themselves for personal or professional gain."
I was asked by Microsoft (via their PR agency, High Road Communications) to be a third-party resource for a survey that was done by Ipsos Reid called: Canadians Using The Internet To Promote Their Careers. The summation of it all can be read in this press release: Image Is Everything: Expert Says Crucial For Canadians To Better Manage Their Online Identities.
What's the big message?
Canadians (and all people who go online) do have personal brands that are reflected in everything from the alias they use for their email, to the set of organic search results that appear when we do an ego-surf. More and more Canadians are starting to understand how powerful this is and how to best harness it to get ahead in their professional lives. In fact, the numbers look promising and will be used in my book, Six Pixels of Separation.
The most important message I took out of the survey results, and its impact on society, is the start of a paradigm shift where individuals who, traditionally, have been told to keep their names and identity private in the online space are now being public about who they are and what they are thinking in a bid to grow their personal brands. Not only is this a shift in how we traditionally looked at the Web, but it poses a new opportunity for Marketers in a world where individuals are creating their own personal brands and have the ability to connect with communities and consumers in a way we have never seen before.
After about fifteen interviews with every major mass media news outlet in Canada, I'm starting to feel confident that the message and power of what Social Media is - and how it enables and empowers the individual to connect, share and grow - is starting to gain mass appeal and, hopefully, acceptance.