Twitter Prenuptials – Please Sign Here

Do you take this Twitter account until death…?

If you’re tweeting for business, do you use your picture, the company logo or a combination of both?

In 2000, community moderation meant being the brand behind the curtain – much like the Wizard of Oz. Communication was functional and when employees moved on, another stepped in seamlessly.

I was the 2nd Sophia in a string of many.

But communication for business has changed. When I served as Communications Director for an international mattress manufacturer, I embraced the idea of brand evangelism. As a former editor, I understood the value of being the voice of the company and knew my network could take the brand further than a robotron’s.

I arrived at the company with healthy and growing communities on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn … and was happy to share. I became the voice and face of the company, growing their networks into the thousands using a combination of my personality, brand evangelism and information that helped people sleep better. It wasn’t about selling more mattresses. It was about community building.

But leaving the company was complicated. My replacement wasn’t prepared to step into the evangelism role I’d created and tweaking the communication plan required a delicate hand. Thankfully professionalism prevailed and we all worked together to make the exit a non-issue. But employees that leave on poor terms may have a different story.

Writing a social media policy

A clearly defined social media policy that outlines terms of use eliminates awkwardness and helps the whole team – employee, successor and company during the job and when it ends. Starting with the end in mind isn’t being the voice of doom – it’s reality.

If you’re tweeting for a company, understand that you’re in a mutually beneficial (or mutually detrimental) relationship. As your brand becomes intertwined with the company’s, everything you do online is brand-building for both of you.

If you align yourself to the brand and your voice resonates with the community, the rewards will follow you wherever you go. If you cause embarrassment to the company, you’ll take that with you too. How is this different than other career choices? It’s online – and searchable.

On the flip side, your company can damage your personal brand as well. If supplier bills aren’t paid or an unhappy customer posts a complaint on your Facebook wall, you’re stuck. If you’re asked to lie for “the good of the company” and the truth comes out, it won’t be seen as loyalty.

You receive a paycheck to do a job, not lie.

If you’re a brand manager on social media (or hiring one) map out the expectations and worst case scenarios – as well as an exit strategy before you begin. Failing to look at the whole picture is a shoddy business practice. By the way, if you’re working for a company that doesn’t see the need for a pre-nup, better pucker up because there’s a lot of plain old frogs out there that will never turn into a Prince Charming. And kissing too many frogs will likely cause warts before you find your prince.

Advice from Twitter

I asked my Twitter friends what they thought of using their own profile pictures when tweeting for a brand and the responses might surprise you. We all want companies to have a personality and it’s clear that the perfect solution is different for everyone.

@commoncentsmom I think a human face adds to the customer experience. I trust an avatar with a human element before a logo.

@GibsonSV I see companies like Rogers & Samsung have logos for their main acct & pics for their personal work acct. I guess for me it’s whether or not I want to decide to be “the face of Gibson Sound & Vision”. Still pondering that point…. definitely a joint decision, especially b/c it’s a family-owned & operated company, do we want ONE person to represent it?

@Chris_Eh_Young This post explains a few ideas: 5 Tips for a Better Profile. If you’re going to network offline, use a real pic. Unless you’re going to wear a logo mask to network.

@BrandonPierce I’m not sure I want companies to be some smiling face. I’m content w/ the logo. Whose face would it be? The Community manager?

@Hippofatamus I say a picture of yourself. Helps me know who I’m communicating with- thus a more personal experience. That brings a new spin to the issue for me. Would the personal connection be lost because you are no longer with the company. Perhaps tweets from an account representing a biz should not get personal, but stay informative. It’s not my style though.

@RealRonFine If tweeting for biz, use a logo. If it’s a mixture of both biz & personal tweets, a photo/logo combo sounds ideal. When you leave the co., your photo & name should be removed from the profile. It won’t be long before we start seeing formal contracts to that effect.

@Reneeradia @HotelMktgROI My company has found many more ppl tweet to us since we have put real photo up.

@6ThousandMiles Mark strongly recommended to use the face behind twitter account here – Your company’s single biggest mistake on Twitter – but I will choose Logo!

@IML500Kitchener At the moment I’m going with the logo. I like it for one (clean and simple), when I’m on this account I’m an IML employee not me per say (I’m at @JaimesIdeas)

Got social media questions? Follow me on Twitter, friend me on Facebook or connect with me on LinkedIn – I’m always on.

9 Responses to “Twitter Prenuptials – Please Sign Here”

  1. Mark W Schaefer says:

    The idea of a company ruining a personal brand is an interesting concept. I would have hated to be EnronMark for example! Good take on the discussion. Thanks!

    • Julia Rosien says:

      I agree, Mark. It’s all sunshine and roses when everything’s going fine – but different story when things go south. Understanding what we’re giving up as well as what we’re gaining when we tweet for a biz we don’t own is important. Getting more important too as social media evovles.

      Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment!
      Julia

  2. FunkySteph says:

    Interesting post Julia… Reading the title I would have definitely said I prefer a personal photo… but reading through the post, I step back and give it some thoughts. I’d say a logo, but somewhere on the company website or blog, present who is the face behind the tweeting account… It often makes me feel better when I see the “real” person I am interacting with…

    • Julia Rosien says:

      I like the idea of a real person behind the tweets, but if we’re that real person it’s time to look at the bigger picture. All of our rights need to be protected. Thanks for the comment, Stephanie!
      Julia

  3. Jerry Cohen says:

    From my experience a face is essential to engage and build relationships. I’m not comfortable talking or listening to an “Inc.” (which is the whole purpose of SM marketing). But as you point out the relationship should be closely monitored from both sides.

    • Julia Rosien says:

      I agree, Jerry, I feel much more comfortable talking to a real person than a brand. But because our industry is so young and formal training out of date before you graduate, it’s easy to dismiss the value of a social media manager. But we have to get better at protecting both the brands we work for and our own personal brands. Both are fragile and easily destroyed by one misplaced tweet.

      Thanks for stopping by – always a joy to see your face :-)

      Julia

  4. bourbonbaker says:

    You must take into consideration how customers feel and react to your brand image. When your image or logo is what they know, I think they like seeing that image in their conversations with you; it gives a sense of security. However, a personal face and name to a corporate account is absolutely necessary in order to build relationships and interact with customers via social media. I think corporate accounts should use their own image or logo to represent themselves on an account but have the information on who is managing that account within their bio. I want to know that I am talking to Steve from Joe’s Deli… if I wanted to interact with a machine, I’ll call Bell Canada.

  5. Malcolm says:

    I think the best of both worlds is having a logo and no personal name attached to the account, but then in the bio have a phrase like “Tweets by @McCalum” linking to your personal twitter account. Like FunkySteph says, that gives those who want it an insight into the person they’re interacting with without commingling their identities.


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