Call me old fashioned, but when I do business with someone, I like to know who they are. Online personas, avatars and other forms of identity cloaking are the stuff that online trolls and teenage bullies use, not professionals. And isn’t social media supposed to be all about genuine engagement and transparency?
Yet, today, in another twist in the bizarre robocall saga, RackNine, the company that provided the automated calling service to the mysterious “Pierre Poutine” acknowledged that one of their employees uses an online pseudonym when dealing with clients.
The true identity of one Rick McKnight became an issue Monday when reporters, digging around the edges of the story, became intrigued by this person, who notwithstanding a massive online footprint, didn’t seem to cast a shadow.
RackNine decided to reveal the mystery man’s true identity and end media speculation. Rick McKnight–who has (had?) some 500 Facebook friends–is actually Rafael Martinez Minuesa, a Spaniard who works in web design and marketing for the firm.
In a statement, Mr. Minuesa said “Rick McKnight is a name I came up with to work with RackNine’s clients online and offline. I use this to discuss projects with clients, and online because it’s just convenient to have a persona for all the different social media sites.”
His boss, RackNine chief executive Matt Meier, says there’s nothing wrong with practice of using an alias when dealing with clients.
“We’re happy with people choosing whatever name they like. As a matter of fact, one of my tech support staff right now is named Timo.”
Now, my name, like Mr. Minuesa’s, might not roll off the tongue as smoothly as say, Rick McKnight; and I may have to repeat and spell it from time to time, but it carries with it the baggage–bad and good–of five decades of personal and professional experiences and interactions. Professionally and socially, one’s name should be their bond.
Creating an online persona to compartmentalize and cloak personal and professional experiences and social interactions is not only bad online form, but a terrible business practice.
Call me old fashioned, but whether they’re dialing our number, reading my blog or checking out my LinkedIn account or our Facebook page I think our clients have a right to know that the “persona” they’re dealing with is the real McCoy.