When your employees see their digital personal brands as having more longevity than their jobs with you, or when their personal brand online is larger and more influential than your own, do you feel threatened?
There are three categories of brand awareness that each business has online. The first falls under the brand name. So, for example, FNB as a brand is recognised on Twitter as @FNBSA. However, if they had additional accounts for some of their individual products, these would fall under the second category of brand awareness. Say for example, if FNB were to start a Twitter account for their new exclusive home loans (in case you missed it, FNB now only offers mortgages to FNB current account holders), it would probably be called something like @FNBHomeLoans.
Still utilizing this example, the third category would be the employees of FNB who have accounts on social profiles under their own individual names but they also refer to their professional involvement with the FNB company brand or products. The most obvious example is Michael Jordaan, known as @MichaelJordaan on Twitter. Although he doesn’t mention that he is the CEO in his Twitter bio, it is common knowledge, plus he has listed the FNB website under his bio, so FNB is referenced in his account. For the record, he also tweets about the organisation. This is co-branding.
It’s so named when a personality in the organisation develops a personal brand that is inextricably linked to the company brand. Think of Steve Jobs and Apple. If the one gets a bad reputation, the feeling and the negative sentiment bleeds to the other. Right now, Jordaan does great things for the FNB brand, he’s likeable, smart and interesting but if FNB were to suddenly fail horribly for whatever reason, or if it were to be revealed that they had lied to or stolen from clients, he would most likely quickly fall out of good favour. Of course the reverse is also true.
It is therefore important to know how you want to deal with the ‘social media stars’ in your organisation. You may have some sales people or even admin staff with skills your brand needs; you may have some larger than life personalities who“shine” online and could use their talents and charisma to the organizations benefit. Just remember the trade-off and examine their posts closely. Their efforts and talents also need to be appropriately awarded. It is complex and requires internal regulation but in our opinion, the rewards seem to outweigh the risks.