When Personal Brands and Corporate Brands Collide

This case brings up some tricky issues around what happens when individuals step forward to represent the organizations they work for in social networks like Twitter and here on Google+. What happens when they leave?

There are some great folks here on Google+ who happen to work for Google and that position within the company has no doubt helped them in building their circles. People stay at Google a long time, but what should happen in cases when these people leave?

Part of their notoriety is connected with their organizational affiliation. Part of it is related to their hard work. How much of that hard work was done off hours? How much on?

Individual people are the connective tissue, or membrane, that connects organizations to their surroundings now days. Nowhere is this more obvious than in the connections that employees build in social networks. The lines between our professional and personal lives are blurring more and more, and this case demonstrates some of the trickiness that will no doubt ensue as a result.

The specifics of this case may constrain its ability to set huge legal precedent, but it's still worth keeping an eye on.

What do you think?

#socialmedia #communitymanagement #alchemyofchange #glia
Also posted at Alchemy of Change:
http://www.alchemyofchange.net/when-personal-and-corporate-brands-collide/

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Man sued over Twitter followers
A man is being sued by his former employer after he left the company and took a 17,000-strong Twitter following with him.

Google+: View post on Google+

About Gideon Rosenblatt

Gideon Rosenblatt writes about the impact of technology on people, organizations and society at Alchemy of Change. He is a technologist with a background in business and social change. For nine years, Gideon ran Groundwire, a mission-driven technology consulting group, dedicated to building a more sustainable world. Prior to that, he spent ten years at Microsoft in various marketing, product development and management positions, where he developed CarPoint, one of the world's first large-scale e-commerce websites. Gideon was raised in Utah, lived and worked in Japan and China for several years, and now lives in Seattle with his wife and two boys. More details on Gideon here.
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6 comments

  1. Noah and Technobuffalo is awesome! Greedy Corp. will be Greedy. – Wait… $2.50 (£1.60) per user, per month – a total of $370,000 – How the hell did they come up with that number?

  2. Good question, +Vinoth Ragunathan. I think it's kind of a tricky question though – not completely black and white. Sounds like you side with the individual, in this case, Noah Kravitz.

  3. Definitely, Noah does a good job with the latest gadget reviews on Youtube and so does Jon. It's sad to see someone getting sued over Twitter followers, ugh…

  4. I have relationships with people not with brands… if Noah created the interest and the loyalty those folks will follow him where ever he goes next… It's nuts the company tries to "own" human relationships…

  5. One of the root causes of such clash of interests is the belief hat relationships can be owned. Really, can they? I think no, because it takes two to tango. Relationships are co-created and if one party ceases to put energy in, the connection dissipates.

    If someone ceases to represent a company, we do not divvy up off hours and on. It does not matter, except to people who make money from litigation. From a customer’s viewpoint, both company and personal relationship continue and I want my choice to continue one, the other, both or neither.

    • Two to tango. Yep. Totally agree, Bernd. Relationships can not be owned. Many of the social change organizations I used to work with would become confused about this at times when it came to managing “their lists.” 

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