Social Media Branding: Are Employees Your Employees 24/7?

PamMoore
Pam Moore Owner/Partner, Marketing Nutz, LLC

Posted on January 21st 2013

Social Media Branding: Are Employees Your Employees 24/7?

photodune 1274646 businessman onoff xs Social Brands: Are Employees Your Employees 24/7? We’ve all seen the social media profiles, bios and disclaimers that read something similar to “my thoughts are my own” or “my tweets are my own.”

Is there really such a thing? Is there a magical hour or invisible line in the sand that separates an employee from the words they say, the things they do and the impact they have on a brand?

If a human being (i.e., an employee) is associated with a brand, is it possible to truly separate them from the brand just because it hits 5:00 pm and the employee “clocks out” or because they add a disclaimer to their tweets?

The truth is that there is no separation. As soon as you or your employees associate yourself or themselves with a brand, that association has been made. Just because they state their tweets or their social media posts are their own doesn’t mean people reading, hearing or seeing them won’t associate the brand to them. To believe this as such is simply ignorant.

Every employee within your company is a walking billboard of your brand. If you don’t like what they say, do, tweet, think, post, pin, video tape or sing about your brand, then you better start on the inside out and fix it.

Check out the video below from Scott Stratten who I think hits the nail on the head with this much needed discussion.  He also includes several case studies that prove the point in a bold way.

Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. Join us this Tuesday night at 9pm et on #GetRealChat for a discussion on the reality of the 24/7 employee and the impact on brands.

 

 

PamMoore

Pam Moore

Owner/Partner, Marketing Nutz, LLC

Half marketing, half geek, social media addict, CEO & Founder of Marketing Nutz @MktgNutz, entrepreneur, speaker, trainer, coach. Lover of strategy, ROI, Brand, God, Family, Friends, Beach & Life! 15+ years of experience helping small startups to Fortune 100 companies, budgets teeny tiny to big in both B2B and B2C markets build brand awareness, grow new markets, develop communities and master ROI across all mediums! Industries of expertise include high technology, non-profit & fundraising, green eco-friendly, enterprise data storage, professional services and storage management, real estate and home building, natural lighting, database analytics & modeling, online marketing, as well as web 2.0 ecommerce for online retailers. http://www.themarketingnutz.com

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Comments

It isn't so much that companies are trying to avoid association or connection through these disclaimers, but rather that we are making it clear that we don't speak on behalf of the company. While it may sound the same, there are specific differences between association and actually speaking on behalf of the comapny. One is public perception while the other can have legal ramifications. 

Noting that my tweets / posts are my own makes it clear that I am not speaking on behalf of my employer and that my words do not reflect any official position held by the company. While this also may change brand perception positively or negatively, it also allows me to be open, transparent, and authentic as an individual. No one believes that our words don't have an effect on the brand image because of a simple disclaimer, however it means we speak for ourselves and the burden of our words lies within our own personal responsibility. Yes, I am an employee 24x7, but I am also an individual 24x7. People know for whom I work, and they also know I am my own person and not wholly defined by my employement. 

I agree with you Jason. We must be our own person but we must also know our actions may reflect on the brand regardless of a disclaimer or not. 

Bingo Pam. And that's the thing I've noticed, a lot of people are talking about disclaimers as something that protects the poster. The disclaimers I use are more intended to protect the company from liability for anything I may say, rather than the other way around. I don't see the disclaimer protecting me at all in fact, but rather providing plausible deniability for my employer to protect them from specific litigation. Neither worries me, though, as I take responsibility for everything I post. Disclaimers don't give anyone immunity from shifting brand perception at all, they only reduce potential corporate liability.

We all tall about the companies we work for with our friends, families even ransoms people in the pub and what we sat influences their opinion. Social media just magnifies what we are saying and announces it to a wider audience than attended. Both employees and employers need to respect this and be realistic about what they are doing. 

I remember a case about three employee who were fired for uploading a video of them play fighting in their work uniforms. They took they employers to court and the judge overturned the decision as the video had 8 views! Lets not pretend that our opinions count that much and what we post goes instantly viral otherwise we wouldn't need sites like this. 

Amen Jonathan! Culture is going to shine thru regardless of if employees are on social or not. Social just makes is shine brighter and sing louder! 

I saw that story about the fight and had to laugh. Glad the judge threw it out. 

 

I couldn't agree with Scott's viewpoints more, but my brand made me add the disclaimer to my Twitter page. The name of the game is indemnification! 

Linda - I think that adding the disclaimer can be a good recommendation for many brands. Though it doesn't eliminate the assocation it does make it clear that the Twitter account is not specifically representing the brand. 

I agree to a certain extent. Once you are an employee for a company, anything that you put on your social media sites is going to either garner good or bad attention back to your company. However, it is a fine line when it comes to firing people because of something that they put on their personal site. I use the word personal site loosely since most "personal sites" are quite public. The bad news is that there are really not that many past cases to look up and see what employees can be fired for. What it is going to come down to is what is in the contract that the employee signed when accepting the job. Many companies will find in the near future that they are having to rewrite their age old contracts to include a clause about social media sites and how the employee is suppose to behave on their own site. 

Yes agree social media policies, communication and frameworks are key. However, they need not over complicate it. They must start somewhere. We have worked with many brands who have wished they would have implemented something (anything) before they had a problem. Sad that it often doesn't get attention or investment at levels needed until there is a problem then all eyes are on it or pointing only to employees. Brands must step up and take responsibility to manage their brand and all social aspects. 

At Miles Design we discuss this topic in depth when we cover brand strategy with our clients. It's a matter of opinion and industry. When it comes to the design industry, a firm or agency can benefit significantly from their employees' status or personal brands. 

Better to encourage this than to repremand it! 

I agree with you Rob. I would hope any agency delivering social brand services is helping their clients on a case by case basis. We obviously do the same thing. 

Yes, brands and employers both obviously benefit from the leverage one another's network, awareness etc. and it should be encouraged with proper training, risk management, framework etc. 

My key point was that there is no shut off button, once the association with the brand is made, it's made. It doesn't matter if you turn off at 5 or not. A good social business strategy should cover all of these including training at all levels. 

Thanks for your comment. 

I agree with you Jason. We must be our own person but we must also know our actions may reflect on the brand regardless of a disclaimer or not.