Patrick Tanguay has written a great manifesto about the central role of tone of voice in the blog world: I Am A Media, Not The Media.
It’s in the tone and it’s part of a pattern (or lack thereof). When Sylvain Twitters about his company looking for a job candidate, he’s reaching out to his tribe, to his friends and colleagues. You know he’ll be happy to give a hand in turn when he can, you know he’ll give credit, mention partners and cite sources. He’s using the technology to enhance the social aspect. When Bubba links to his most recent ad-ridden post, without any comment and you see he’s got 666 friends, you have to wonder if the tone is right.
I’ve always been very skeptical about the whole “personal brand” movement – although I hope I come across well in my blog, and I do write here about things that are professionally relevant to me, this space is always about me as an individual, not me as simply a commercial entity. I think that anyone who is involved in this kind of thing professionally would do well to keep a clear distinction between their commercial activity and their personal space on the web.
That’s where the “personal brand” people often lose me. I want to have a beer with a person, not with a company, and all too often that distinction is lost on people. And when the lack of such distinctions starts to invade my “social” space – well, it’s boring and somewhat abusive of my time, trust and goodwill. It’s almost as if a kind of mild autism is at play – autism in the sense that there are people can’t gauge context very well and don’t understand that what is cool in one environment is the opposite in another.
See also Sylvain (cited above by Patrick) and the post to which he linked on the weekend, HOWTO network without becoming a disingenuous weasel by Merlin Mann. As Sylvain put it, it’s about an ethic of reciprocity.