discover online persona


At an event a while ago, I attended a workshop about social media. As a part of it, we were asked to take a simple personality test which would reveal how we act online.

The test is simple, and the results give you three out of six outcomes:

Open or Closed

Supportive or Controlling

Selective or Random

What does that mean?

Large institutions are generally closed, controlling and selective – it’s the way they’ve had to be until now: a closed institution that is selective and controlling of what goes in and out.

Within a social network though, the opposite is most beneficial: to be open and supportive of taking on new ideas, and allow things to randomly happen rather than selecting what will occur. Thomas Power argues that network thinking like this is the future, and we are currently in the process of transitioning.

What does this have to do with you and your blog or business?

Well, take me for example. It will probably come as no surprise to you that when I took the test, I came out as Open, Random and Supportive. Most of my life is documented online, in one way or another. I have many friends on social networks that I’ve met once or twice, if at all. I love to gather people and information into my networks, and to form genuine connections with them. I love it when I can introduce one online friend to another because I know they would get on, they have a lot in common, or have similar ideas about business.

Thinking of this in terms of my social media presence, I published a post yesterday about making your Facebook page work for you, and how I make mine work for me. It occurs to me that perhaps my Facebook page works for me because I am generally open, random and supportive with it. I don’t hold back on what I want to post; unless it’s really of a personal nature or affects another person, I will usually choose to post it on my page rather than my personal profile. I don’t filter anything, and share links and information from a wide range of sources on a wide range of topics.

The world is transitioning from Closed, Selective and Controlling to Open, Random and Supportive. Social media is a massive part of this. Remember 20 years ago when, if you had a problem with a company and you were really cross you would write a letter, or perhaps call in to BBC Watchdog and hope they could help? These days you don’t need to do either of those things; you can go online and complain to your heart’s content. In forums, on the company’s Facebook page, on your Facebook page and all over Twitter with some well chosen hashtags. The times, they are a-changin’ and they’re becoming more open, random and supportive in nature.

In order to be successful online, we need to communicate who we are before mentioning what we do. People want to engage with us based on who we are, what our beliefs are, what we have in common, whether we seem interesting. What we do comes much later in the conversation, when we have already wowed them with our amazing personalities.

It’s the difference between walking into a crowded pub, handing someone our business card and then bolting… and starting a conversation with someone at the bar about a genuine shared point of interest.

Vicky Charles

Vicky is a single mother, writer and card reader.


Tim · 09/06/2015 at 10:07

Interesting. I came out as Open, Selective and Supportive. For sure, the online world is fundamentally changing the way we interact, both with other people and with companies – mostly for the better, although as individuals we also need to take care to be constructive and not get abusive on social media just because we can.

Funnily enough, I wrote a piece over the weekend about how Tesco Bank had dealt very well with a complaint I raised on Twitter, and other commenters shared that they had had similarly positive experiences. It’s a good indication that some big companies are taking social media seriously and finding ways to turn negative problems into positive outcomes. (The post I refer to is this one:

    Vicky Charles · 09/06/2015 at 18:44

    Thanks Tim. I think a lot of companies have social media because they have to, but they don’t really use it well or take it seriously. Good for Tesco though if they can keep ahead of the game!

carol hedges · 10/06/2015 at 11:36

Absolutely agree!!! As a writer ( and a bit of an extrovert, forget why I was on the Myers Briggs but think it was off the scale) , people like to get to know YOU first, then maybe they will read your stuff/buy your books. We are naturally curious animals ..and, apart from a few narcissists, like to see ‘behind the scenes”. I remember when I=, after a lot of thought, I came clean about my breast cancer in a blog and on FB, I was amazed by the warm, supportive response. You don’t have to bare your entire soul …I now some do, but a little bit of who you are should pervade your online sites. It’s finding that balance that’s the real skill!!

    Vicky Charles · 14/06/2015 at 12:16

    Thanks Carol, I think you’re right – it’s about being personal but we all have our own line in the sand about how much of ourselves we’ll reveal. If you look at the Kardashians, for example, they’re really only famous because they opened up their lives to let the outside world see “how the other half lives.”

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