Got Employees? Then, you’ve got a social media problem.

Of course, I was being facetious with my blog post title. But, as someone who has written numerous blog posts educating companies on social media and given my experience at LinkedIn editing / coordinating blog posts from nearly 100 of my colleagues – a fact I’m especially proud of – this Quora question struck a chord with me.

How do you handle employees or bloggers with social presence that leave the company?

Given today’s fast job turnover rates, IMO, it is not in the best interests of either the company or the employee to tie their personal or professional brand/s with their company’s brand id in social media.

Let me give you three possible ways your employees represent their brand on social media sites along with potential pros and cons (Also, I’m gonna use Twitter as a proxy for social media in general):

1. @yourname (e.g. @robertscoble)

I think Robert Scoble was probably the first employee brand that was associated with a company brand (Microsoft) in a large manner. But I’m pretty sure he was Scobleizer even then (not Microsoft Scoble). I think since then he’s made a pretty good transition to owning his brand both at Podtech and at his current job at Rackspace. That said, Mini-Microsoft is another Microsoft related satirical blog brand that’ll forever be tied to Microsoft.

2. @companyname (e.g. @ComcastCares run by Frank Eliason when he ran Comcast’s customer service)

For those companies that like Zappos (Tony Hsieh) would like a person behind their branded twitter id – ComcastCares is a great example. Frank was the person behind the customer support Twitter id and once he moved on to Citigroup, someone else (Bill Gerth) took over the Comcastcares brand. In Customer Service, this is standard best practice.

3. @yourname/companyname (e.g. my good friend, Lionel Menchaca Jr. at Dell or his colleague Richard Binhammer)

This one’s tricky. I haven’t had a chance to chat w/ Lionel about this, but I hope he drops a line on this thread explaining why. This is when employees choose to take their company brand as part of their Twitter id (For e.g. @LionelatDell). But, if and when Richard or Lionel move onto some other brand, I’m not sure how this Twitter id can be transitioned. And, the bigger challenge is loss of accumulated followers or subscribers over time. Stay tuned for more.

[Update]: Richard from Dell, just left a comment explaining Dell’s policy on their naming convention. Thanks, Richard! Here goes:

RichardatDell and LionelatDell arose out of Dell’s policy on transparency on the social Web: You can find Dell’s official policy here.

The naming nomenclature is much easier than in the first sentence of all we do and say on the social web declaring that we work for Dell.

As for leaving Dell. I have no plans and am thrilled doing what I do.

Others have and the name either goes away or the account is transitioned with transparency.

My recommendation for Companies:

Since this question is aimed at guidelines for companies on handling employee brands that leave their organization, here’s what I’d recommend – “Be Proactive”:

  1. Define a set of social media guidelines for your organization. I’d actually urge you to bring in your employees or the more prominent folks who are already dabbling in social media to help you define these guidelines. For e.g. At LinkedIn, we had a series of brownbag sessions where we invited all employees to define these guidelines for themselves. I’ve compiled a bunch of best practices on my blog. Feel free to share –…
  2. Encourage all employees to build their brand on social media platforms. They’re gonna, whether you like it or not. It actually benefits them were you to share best practices on how to build their professional brand. Else, some of them may find themselves facing this conundrum –…
  3. Educate the rest of your employees on social media guidelines. While a very small % of your org is gonna volunteer to help define the guidelines, you wanna make sure the rest of the company gets to see what these guidelines are. Please spend time socializiating the guidelines over a few months. Leave room to edit as you receive further feedback from your employees. Key here is “Be Flexible”.

So, what’s accepted best practice (much like your owning your is to own your @name on twitter. Ideally, first name / last name since this one’s gonna be with you for a very long time.

Personally, I’ve always stuck with @mariosundar on Twitter and I own my domain – – thanks to WordPress‘ super-easy method of transitioning their URLs over.

I’d highly recommend the same if you contemplate building your professional brand in today’s social media world.

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  1. Ajay

    Good blog sundar. Nice and informative post. Can you suggest me how to redirect wordpress to our domain?

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