Social media is not free and it is not easy. Doing social media well takes time and commitment. Social media can be a valuable asset to your company, but at the end of the day, who owns those accounts? First, let’s establish a background of value:
Social media is valuable
You don’t have to go far to find a lot of great reasons for businesses to get involved with social media:
- 82% of buyers trust a business more when the CEO is active on social media
- 90% of Inc. Fortune 500 companies use at least one social media platform
- 62% of those Inc. Fortune 500 companies say social media is essential to growth
- 92% of small businesses say social media is an effective marketing tool
Do I need to go on? I think you get it. Social media is valuable.
But what might get confusing is who that social media belong to.
Last year there was a rather closely watched case of PhoneDog vs. Noah Kravitz in which the company, PhoneDog, sued Kravitz (and vice versa) over a Twitter account and thousands of followers that Kravitz felt belonged to him and PhoneDog felt belonged to them. Kravitz had been tweeting from an account with his name for the company. It was sending a lot of traffic to the PhoneDog website. When Kravitz left the company, lawsuits followed. The court ruled to let Kravitz keep his account and all his followers.
Despite the court’s ruling in that specific matter last year, according to a recent study, many managers today still feel that such social media accounts should belong to the company. Most young employees don’t agree.
Before you jump into social media, or before you go any further with it, consider your policy on ownership of accounts. How are you going to name the accounts that employees are using and what claim will they have on those when they leave? Make sure your ownership policies are in line with privacy laws. Put guidelines in writing before you start, and make sure any administrators or account holders understand the rules. In same cases, a policy may not be good enough and a contract may be required.
Many use social media as a way to blend personal and professional lives. Without specific guidelines in place, it can be confusing who that account actually belongs to. Avoid dispute and put a policy in writing. Allow your employees to leverage the power of social media while also protecting company assets.