An Epic Battle For Social Media Professionals

tankAre you truly committed to your brand?

If you’re a CEO you’re probably nodding your head.  If you’re just an employee, you might not be so quick.   For an employee, the success of their brand isn’t necessarily directly related to the success of their personal brand, and so the epic battle ensues.

If you have a personal brand network that overlaps with the community of the brand you work for, you will always face a dilemma of whether or not you should post content on your blog or on your brand’s blog, on your twitter account or your brands twitter account, etc… It’s your personal brand vs. your company’s brand.

You might have a GREAT idea for a blog post.  It’s one of those posts that you know, when you hit publish, the traffic and comments will just start rolling in faster than uncomfortable moments in a Ben Stiller movie.  It can go to either blog.  Where do you post it?

The answer is you give the content to your company’s brand, not your own.

It’s not an easy pill to swallow, but the brand of your company should always take priority.  Why? Because…

  • You still get credit for it.
  • You shouldn’t hold yourself above your company.
  • The better you do your job, the better you look in your boss’ eyes.
  • The better the company looks, the better you look.
  • They pay your salary.

Sometimes we get so caught up in our own personal brands, that we forget our primary responsibility is to our company’s brand.  You have a job, do it well.

30 thoughts on “An Epic Battle For Social Media Professionals

  1. Unless your personal brand is totally separate from your company’s brand… If your blog post is on the wonders of fruit flys and your company is a widget maker, posting a fruit fly post on the company’s blog doesn’t make much sense. Right?

      1. What if the purpose of the blog is to show the company culture?

        I spent some time working at a creative ad agency that used their blog to show the unique personalities within the company…in that instance do you think that an off-kilter blog post about something like fruit flies would be acceptable?

        Or do you think that’s a bad idea for a company to have a blog that isn’t exactly about their clients or the direct work that they do?

  2. Great blog post, David! I recently participated in a “Social Media Evangelism Lunch N Learn” for a client who specializes in IT. Our audience consisted of about 10 IT programmers and developers. Most of these employees are already involved in some form of social media – their own blogs, Twitter accounts, topical forums, etc.

    The client, who has fully embraced social media, wants to encourage their employees to participate in the company’s social media strategy. There hasn’t been too much balking besides some jokes about getting raises for doing it. Naturally people will try to maneuver more money when they feel their responsibilities increase. Anyways, we were asked to come in to do a presentation that really drives home even little things they can all do – we had a whole list of things they can do in 10 minutes or less a day! We also brought up many of your points. By the end of the meeting I think the crowd acknowledged the importance of participating in company social media and understood that helping the company makes them more valuable in the long run.

    1. A great company is one that creates an environment where the employees can really identify with the company, and correlate their personal success with the success of the company. Sounds like you guys are off to a great start!

      Out of curiosity, what were some of the “small things” that you brought up?

      1. Here’s a few of the easy things we suggested:

        -RT @company tweets (when applicable)
        -Become a fan of your company on FB (that is, if they have a fan page)
        -Share or ‘like’ company fan page links
        -comment on your company’s blog (if they have one)
        -comment on industry-related blogs – make sure to link back to company
        -write for your company’s blog (that takes more than 10 minutes, of course)

        Again, just some small stuff that is no-brainer stuff to us, of course!


  3. Great post as always! I agree with you, but if your personal blog deals with your passion for vintage cars and your company blog deals with something completely different, it probably won’t be as much as of an issue because the content would be significantly different. That said, you should give 100% to your company blog regardless.

  4. Your personal brand can only be separate from your company brand if you’re not a spokesperson. The thing is, I don’t blog about anything related to my organization. Can it be brought back to them? Of course, hence the disclaimer. 🙂 We don’t blog just yet because we aren’t ready, but I really believe the content is just as important for both.

    1. Interesting. So a spokesperson for a brand can’t also have a personal brand? Obviously, there will be overlaps, but I think they could still achieve some separation, no? Don’t we “community managers” also have our personal brand?

      Also, on your point that it’s equally important for good content to go to your personal blog as it is for your company blog? Mind elaborating?

      Didn’t think I’d let you off easy did you?

      1. There’s always separation – to a point. I mean, my brand is very distinct, but the joke around the office is that the Mensa SM efforts are ‘LAF with a Mensa twist.’ The professional brand, if you represent it, is a blend.

        The thing is, your personal blog represents you. You should put good content because it reflects you as a person, which reflects you both professionally and personally.

  5. Great questions. Knee jerk reaction: I don’t like dual posting because it just creates more noise. I guess it depends on the situation though. If you’re dealing with two very separate communities that would both appreciate the content, then perhaps it would be beneficial to post on both.

    It can get very complicated when you’re cross posting on both a corporate blog and a personal blog. Interested to hear others’ thoughts on this.

    1. Right. That’s the thing. When you started the company, it’s your baby…it’s you. You will give everything just to see it succeed and grow. Finding an employee that would feel the same way? Priceless.

  6. A moment to play devils advocate?

    So after you’ve given your company all of this wonderful content that makes them look great, makes them more money, etc., something goes sideways. They lose their biggest client, the industry moves and they don’t, etc.

    You get cut loose. Or worse, maybe the company gets bought (due in part to the great content you created) and you get squeezed out during the merger but the owners get a big, fat payday.

    Now what? Is it still a good idea to give all of your best content to your company? Or would you have been better served to make sure that at a minimum, your brand star was rising as fast as the company’s?


    1. So happy that you took this angle. This really is the core of the issue. Your personal brand is permanent. It will always stay with you. Your company’s brand, especially in an age where people don’t intend to stay with the same company for as long as they used to, is far from permanent. Is it foolish to abandon your personal brand and contribute everything to your company?

      It’s a really tough one. Should you then split the good stuff? Sometimes, give it to the personal blog, and other times give it to the company?

      I’m still inclined to say that you should always give it to the company. You can say what you want to create your personal brand, but in the end, it’s about your experience and execution. Being the best employee possible, is the only way to truly make your personal brand a powerful one…or at least in the ideal world in my imagination, it would be.

      Really interested in others’ take on this.

      1. Yes this is the ultimate quagmire. And if you happen to work in a knowledge industry (accounting, marketing, law) and you don’t own the place you work at, the whole thing gets compounded because each of those industries is reputation based. And while, agree being a great employee is good, reputations are largely about what you know and what projects you’ve been apart of over the years.

        And as you note: the likelihood that David Spinks is employed by the same company he is today say, 10 years from now, not so likely.

        Great post. Looking forward to seeing where this convo goes.

    2. I think that Tom’s example is a good reason for *some* cross-promotion – not necessarily double posts, but referencing your post on X blog builds your brand as well as the companies. Unless you are your own brand and your own company your identity may not be as visible as part of the company’s brand. You lose your identity to your company. Once you’re cut loose, you have to start from scratch and build your own identity (which may be easier if people knew you were the driving force behind the company’s blog).

      If working for an agency, then your blog posts should belong to the company and boost their brand (as blogging on your own can have other reprecussions!). If you are the world’s expert on widgets (yeah – stuck on them today!) and your posts have your name attached (as the world’s expert) then yes, your posts should go on the company blog and not your own.

      It’s a fine line…someone has to cross it!

      1. I see what you mean. I agree. I once brought up an idea dealing with a similar situation: guest posts. When you guest post for another blog, you may be hesitant to send them your best post as you would want to keep the real gold for yourself. I toyed with the idea of putting up a page with all of the guest posts I have written.

        I think as long as it’s not passed off as original content, and it serves more of an archive purpose, it’s not crossing the line.

  7. Interesting, but not absolute black and white. As a community manager and content creator, there are filters on ME I have to put in place. That is just business etiquette. I have been blogging on Communicators Anonymous since 2006 and I separate the content and topics I address on that site versus the sites I am paid to represent. I give 100% to both. There will always be some element of overlap because of the industry, but not intentional. My work on all sites fuels the conversation and caliber of my work no matter the location. The difference is…I am not about the glory, but betterment of the industry.

    1. I mean, if you’re able to come up with amazing content every time, then you don’t have a problem. I think most people have their big ideas and their not so big ideas. When forced to choose where those big ideas will go, you’ll find this dilemma, or “battle”. I’d argue that you should give 100% to your company’s brand, and as much as you can (probably not going to be 100%) to your personal brand.

      1. It’s possible to work in social media and not have a personal brand?!

        Or is it that you have a personal brand, but because you focus so much time and energy on the company, your personal brand isn’t built out at all?

        Another interesting conversation to be had…

  8. I couldn’t agree more with your post, especially with your bullet points. At the end of the day, the information we are sharing often involves our company in some way. If we are even remotely touching on something that relates to our company we represent, we have to contribute to the greater good of the brand.

    Even if we only represent ourselves, there are times we will share information from our companies, so there will always be that choice to make: company versus personal brands.

    The upside to making that choice, as you eloquently stated, is that it becomes reciprocal, basically helping both the company and personal brands over time.

  9. That’s the best argument yet for the need to align your values with that of your employer instead of just collecting a paycheck. If you don’t genuinely believe in what your company is doing and how it does it, you won’t be able to be genuine in the SM world.

    The issue of knowing how and when to self-edit remains, but without the correct alignment of values, it will be VERY hard for someone to speak for a company they don’t truly believe in (in the Social Media arena) without losing credibility.


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