Recently I blogged about why your boss should allow you to use social media in the workplace. This has a lot of advantages (read my previous blog to find out why).
But what happens when your workplace not only allows you to use social media, but requests that you use it? Take this to the extreme and consider – who then owns your social media account?
This is a very important question, which I don’t believe has been debated enough. I’m seeing a growing number of Twitter profiles and blogs where an individual’s social media profile:
• References where they work
• Might include a link to their work website address or work’s Twitter handle
• Might even include the workplace name as part of their personal Twitter handle, for example @AndyAtStarbucks. This is okay. But it is probably not sustainable without a strategy and shared understanding between worker and boss.
They say today’s employee will have many jobs in their lifetime. So what happens when you leave one employer … and take your Twitter account with you?
Take for example the case of journalist Laura Kuenssberg, who amassed quite a Twitter following while working for the BBC. She had more than 58,000 followers – and used the handle BBC in her Twitter name – before leaving the national broadcaster and joining ITV.
What should she have done? Abandoned the ‘BBC’ Twitter profile and started another? Handed the BBC profile to her successor? Or rebrand, rename and start tweeting as an ITV journalist? Who was the owner of her account? There are good arguments for and against holding onto the Twitter account. It’s simply too difficult to tell whether people followed her because she was Laura Kuenssberg, or because she was a journalist with the BBC. There may have been many who followed for both reasons; not to mention family and friends.
What can be done to avoid this situation? Well, if your employer asks you to tweet for work purposes and to weave the company name into your Twitter name, it’s probably time to write a contract! It could be extremely useful for the future, if you had a documented understanding of who owns the Twitter account.
If you can’t reach an understanding, the best option may be to tweet from a company name only and keep your personal Twitter handle entirely separate.
Of course, this also raises questions about the boundaries we have in our workplace. When we use social media many of us are losing some work/life balance. Our professional and personal spheres are colliding. (I’ll be writing about personal versus professional in an upcoming blog).
Have you been asked to tweet on behalf of your employer; post on Facebook; respond to a blog or take part in an online forum?