I’m amazed at how often I glance quickly at my Facebook feed and do a double take and what someone wrote. It will throw me off not because of the content of the update, but by who it came from. I’ll think, so and so said that? What’s wrong with her? Where did that come from? Then I realize it wasn’t a post from, say, Stephanie Jones, it was from Stephanie Taylor. Ah, of course. Then it all makes sense.
It’s at these times I realize the personal brands we’re all knowingly or unknowingly developing on Facebook. I’m not talking about the obvious “likes” or subscribes that companies are stalking for their target marketing. Or about the “Look-at-my-beautiful-family-on-our-great-vacation-didn’t-I-do-well-for-myself-after-high-school” Facebook images that people are intentionally nurturing.
I’m talking about how personalities and voices bleed through people’s posts without them even realizing it. This is not about people’s self-defining and usually limited subject matter (that’s a whole other topic), but their expressions and wording.
There are people who are comfortable posting their favorite videos and exclaiming, “Love this!” And there are people who can pull off any use of the word “Word” with the bonus misspelling as “Wurd.” There are the “Okay kids” posters, the “swear word” posters, the typo posters, the people who don’t know when to use their, they’re, or there posters, and the “Do-what-I-did-because-I’m-better-than-you-and-you-should-be-like-me” posters.
These people lay claim to their styles and phraseologies, so that the same words or expressions coming from anyone else just sound inauthentic and echo like a wrong note.
I would guess that if we stripped out everyone’s names from Facebook but kept the updates, we would still be able to attribute statuses to their authors. We would know who among our 600 friends would be the one to say “Woot, woot,” or “I don’t EVEN…,” or “This is to funny.” I would know, as I do, what’s from Stephanie Jones and what’s from Stephanie Taylor.
This is the power of words, and what our moms have always told us: It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it. With every post, with every choice in words, knowingly or unknowingly, we build our brand. Good or bad. Wurd.