Note: In order to forego any confusion with Social Identity Theory, please assume that we implicitly insert ‘media’ after ‘social’ in our discussion of social identity in #SMXChat.

I think our digital footprint, social persona and online reputation intersect at a place I’ll call our social identity. While your persona is the image you may wish to project, your identity is the collection of all things through which others perceive you; and it takes a while to emerge and mature, so to speak.

Deborah Thomas (@DTNEtiquette) echoes my thoughts pretty well in this tweet from last Saturday:

Now don’t get the message wrong, those true colors can show in either a positive or negative way. Come to think of it, our social identity is, for good or bad, a true reflection of the collection of our digital consciousness. It says more about us than we can articulate ourselves; and demonstrates our likes and dislikes, want and desires, and our many feelings and moods.

If the eyes are the window to our human soul, then perhaps our social identity is the window to our digital soul. Hmm. Think about that for a while.

We have individual identity for sure, and there is definitely collective identity in how we choose to associate and group ourselves. And I believe that businesses and brands, as collective entities, also generate a social identity. Not only that, but such identity is becoming a big part of how consumers decide the businesses and brands they patronize. So let’s discuss how we cultivate our social identity. Or how it emerges and defines us.

Q1) Do we define our social identity or does it define us?

Q2) Our social identity is emergent. How do we know when it’s complete?

Q3) How do our choices of social networks influence our social identity?

Q4) How does understanding social identity affect in marketing with social media?

Q5) What does your social identity say about you?

Q6) Brands are an example of collective identity. How might they work with that?