I’ve been tweeting as @parenthacks for almost seven years. Over the weekend, I changed my Twitter handle to @ashadornfest.
The change makes sense; it reflects how I prefer to use Twitter — as a place for conversation more than publication or promotion. Given that there will be a book titled Parent Hacks on the shelves soon enough, tweeting as @ashadornfest gives new readers, especially those unfamiliar with my blog, a better idea of what to expect if they follow me.
The handle change also goes along with my constant pull toward simplifying my life. I’m now /ashadornfest on my favorite social profiles (Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram). The orderliness of this setup makes me ridiculously happy.
But as I begin to play around with my “new” social media identity, I’m surprised by contradictory feelings: I feel both hesitant and free.
Stepping out from behind the protection of a brand
For such a small change — I suspect few have even noticed it — tweeting under my own name feels surprisingly unsettling. Tweeting and blogging as “Parent Hacks” felt less vulnerable, even though my online voice has always been in line with my personal voice. I’m accustomed to shining the spotlight on other people, and becoming “me” online feels like stepping into the spotlight myself.
Parent Hacks was never purely about my parenting, my career or my life. I launched this site in 2005 as a community resource — the community I longed for as a new mother. At the time, blogs were just beginning to hit their stride among parents, mostly as personal journals. There was no “professional” blogging, social media, SEO or mobile…just people talking, swapping ideas, and starting friendships. Using a blog as the basis for a community was relatively new (at least for me).
The most popular parenting blog at the time was Dooce, Heather Armstrong’s personal blog. She was a pioneer, blazing a trail for parents in this new medium. The fact that Heather’s blog became so popular proved what we online writers felt in our gut: that parents — we — wanted to hear from other parents, not just published authors or experts.
As Parent Hacks developed a readership, I found there was safety in identifying primarily as my blog. I was the voice of Parent Hacks, but Parent Hacks wasn’t about me. It was about the hacks, the tips, and the generosity of the people who sent them in. I got all the benefits of a thriving community without the risks. No one judged my parenting or life choices, no one flamed me in the comments, and no one questioned my motives. It’s been a two-way lovefest around here since practically Day 1.
When blogs hit the mainstream and “netiquette” became a hot topic, my “brand safety” felt protective, especially for a risk-averse, let’s-all-get-along person like me.
Claiming my voice
As readers’ needs have changed, so have mine. Today, the Internet is awash with smart tips and clever hacks. A tidal wave of information that can be helpful, but can also overwhelm. As a parent, writer, and reader myself, what I now find most compelling online is humanity. Those glimpses of lives and inner worlds that can only happen here, where everyone can tell their stories.
Personal blogging isn’t my strength. I still love a good, practical tip, and I love sharing other peoples’ brilliance. I also value a measure of privacy. But claiming my voice online — blogging, tweeting, Facebooking and Instagramming as me — allows me to explore and write about the world beyond parenting from a distinctly personal perspective. There’s freedom in that, and it’s exciting.
I’m more than the mother of two kids or the founder of a website or the author of a book. I’m me, and I’m glad to be here with you.
Do you blog or use social media as you or as a persona or brand? Has it changed over the years? I’d love to hear how you do your online thing. Leave a comment here, or talk to me on Twitter at @ashadornfest.
@parenthacks on Twitter is still alive and well. For now, it’s quiet, but I may start using it again once the Parent Hacks book comes out. You can follow my public Facebook updates at /ashadornfest, and the Parent Hacks Facebook Page continues to live at /parenthacks.
Photo credit: Karen Walrond for the ONE Campaign
Logo design: Bryan Bell
(Test post 2 without web address but with email address)
Asha Dornfest says
Thanks, Asha! I saw your announcement the other day and was actually curious why you were initiating the change. Makes perfect sense. I think you’ve done an excellent job over the years building your brand both as Asha and as the voice behind Parent Hacks, and I know both will continue to thrive. Thanks for the consistently great content.
Asha Dornfest says
What a lovely thing to say, thank you, Katie.