What's in a name, anyway?  Well according to the states of New Jersey, Texas, and Wisconsin … not the numbers 0 through 9.  Seems fairly strict rules coming from the same states that brought you the likes of Snooki and Kinky but perhaps they are on to something.

I submit that your identity is THE foundation by which credibility and trust are established, and when engaging in online social business … sharing something as simple as your real name is no longer suggested, but rather expected, to be taken seriously.

Let's take YouTube for example.  To this day, YouTube still allows members to participate under cryptic usernames.  This is by design for their community, as it yields a risk-free ecosystem for users to engage in their community, disregarding quality and etiquette in the process..  However, when was the last time you modeled your content strategy from someone named eric227012, or changed an enterprise process based on the suggestions of b4b13LuV45Exactly!

Social business isn't about just any engagement.  It's about the right engagement, with the right people, and the right expertise.  Relationships matter, attribution counts, and at the heart of it all is a person's identity to self-regulate the flow of real collaboration.


If you're interested in assessing the state of your community, here are some suggestions:

  1. Analyze community profiles and calculate percentage private vs. public
  2. Using last 6 months of data, cross-reference % of traffic contributions coming from "private" vs. "public" members
  3. Filter data even more to only include extended conversations (dialogues with multiple people), and re-compare.

Target:  Achieve a ratio of 1:3, meaning 1 named member for every 3 guised members, with an ever-present goal to drive the ratio passed 1:1.

Regardless of your findings, you'll find that launching programs to increase chances for uses to connect will have a direct impact on expediting the trend to a more open community.  What will change is the level of energy and focus needed to alter existing norms to the achieve the desired results.  For example, take a look at Thrive on Jive in the Jive Community to see how we helped users find each other based on common interest.


How does your community compare?  Have you experienced similar transitions, how did you navigate the course? Any interesting programs you'd like to share?