mixing brand & people as social media best practice


One of the most noted aspects of social media is that it highly encourages interaction and two-way communications. For organizations, this can be tricky because while they want to operate according to the community norms, they also want to be personal and add a human voice — and perhaps face — to their brand.

In today’s transient workforce, employees operating social media accounts may want to leverage that activity to not only promote their own company, but to build a personal brand. There are several examples of companies that have had an employee blog or Twitter on their behalf, and as the popularity of that account grew, so did the credibility and personal brand of that employee (think Ford’s Scott Monty). If that employee leaves that company, the employee is able to transfer his or her personal brand but the company has to start over in building that online persona.

Companies like Graco Baby Products and Ford both benefited from the growing personal brand of their social media managers (see Lindsay Lebresco interview), but recognized their overall online brand would be in danger if they lost the blogger/Tweeter.

The pros of the company brand (leaving the person behind it out of the picture) is the added credibility of the content posted, ability to transition with manpower turnover and it is easy to identify the official voice. The pros of using a personal/organization mix are that there is increased transparency and the posts can be more human.

Many people have blogged about this before, so this is nothing new but I thought I’d compile a quick best practices list to deal with mixing brands and employee persona.

  • To mix the personal and company account, make the user handle a combination of your name and your company. If you want to tweet as yourself but intend to focus most of the tweets on the company, feel free to start an account but make the username @DeltaTim or @TimatDelta instead of just @Delta.  This way you can put your own picture as the profile picture, feel free to post more personal things that would not be appropriate for a company voice and add an even more personal voice to that of the company. Great examples of this come from the Dell family of Tweeters like Lionel and Richard – both atDell 🙂
  • Use brand images as avatars for the brand account. Avoid putting your personal photo as the identifying avatar for an official account.
  • Consider putting your name in the profile bio as the voice behind the official company account for the company account. If you are tweeting for @HomeDepot, considering including the text “Tweets by Jane Doe” in the profile text so that while people understand it is the official account for the company, they can still have an idea of who you are. A great example of this is Boingo‘s Twitter account where it is evident the voice behind the tweets is Jeremy Pepper.*

What best practices tips do you have to add?

* Update: Jeremy isn’t at Boingo anymore but the example used still holds true with idenification of the tweeter 🙂

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