Getting Your Social Media Stars Into Alignment
Making a name for yourself in business these days often entails the cultivation of a strong public persona via blogs, LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. And so just as a top salesperson brings his/her contact list along when hired, today’s social media stars come packaged with followers, friends, subscribers and an archive of postings.
These (generally) desirable hires are what Wall Street Journal columnist Alexandra Samuel calls "co-branded employees" — expected to support the corporate mission while maintaining their own brand, both for their own prosperity and that (presumably) of the company.
In a sense, companies hire not just individuals in these cases but a network of connections the star has built through LinkedIn groups and the like. While the potential benefits are many, so are the questions raised, according to Ms. Samuel. Can/should the employers insist that the two brands be cohesive and mutually supportive? Who gets to copyright the content produced? Who owns the intellectual property when the employee moves on? How much company time should be devoted to the employee’s blogging, posting and tweeting?
In many cases, it would be foolish for management to discourage activities that bring in business leads and valuable connections. In fact, many employees are expected to produce content regularly, much like professors must publish regularly to keep their tenure.
The WSJ piece recommends establishing clear guidelines for the job requirements and ownership of intellectual property, but these would no doubt vary considerably depending on the type of brands and job positions involved.
In what types of executive positions do you see social media celebrity being a requirement? Where do you see the greatest potential conflicts between personal and company brands? What issues/successes have you seen in your own business sector?