May 9, 2012
Talking to people means you have to have things to say. That’s a pretty basic rule of conversation, and it can lead to some interesting consequences on Social Networks.
While talking on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. you will meet all different kinds of people. They’ll want to have all different kinds of conversation on a myriad of topics. You have to be very careful not to fall into the trap of saying something inappropriate in timelines and pages that are directly affiliated with your company, lest you incur the wrath of the Powers that Be.
In my case – just as an example – my company preferred that I did not tweet personal conversations on my corporate identity, so I have two different Twitter timelines. @miketalonnyc for personal stuff, @VSI_MikeTalon for anything dealing with my day job. This lets me talk to my online friends about whatever I want, without those conversations crossing over to the timeline I use when I need to transmit corporate messaging.
There is another reason to keep different identities for work and play – ownership. When you tweet about your company, you’re directly affiliating with your company. That means – unless you have a written document saying otherwise – that the company can claim ownership over your Twitter, Facebook and other accounts. Why would they do this? Because your friends and contact lists constitute a customer list of sorts, and companies absolutely love customer lists! While this is still being challenged in the courts, at least one case may end up in favor of a company over the guy who built up the Twitter follower list. That’s bad enough, but he may have to pay the company in question for “using” their customer list if he loses the case – no small amount of cash to be sure.
By having one identity used for work, and one for your own stuff, you can clearly show the line between what posts and followers are yours and which “belong” to the company you’re working for.
In some cases, you may be lucky enough to be able to keep one account for work and play. If you are, get it in writing to protect yourself, then have at it. For the rest of us, keeping two identities is a good idea both to allow you to speak freely and to ensure you know what both you and your organization own.