In the previous post I talked about how corporations that are creating social media programs inherently need to rely upon the individuals involved with those initiatives. But what about the individuals? Quoting from the previous post:

On the flip side, what about an individual that becomes associated with a brand. In some cases they’re not an individual, they’re the company’s blogger. I’ve seen it happen at conferences, “Oh hey, John….you’re X’s blogger?” They’re always introduced as John, X’s Blogger, never just John. It’s like without that qualifier at the end they wouldn’t be anybody.

What happens when they want to move on but the corporate brand overshadows their own?

It’s a double-edged sword. The major brand is what has put them in a position to possibly move on to other opportunities, but that brand can also obscure them.

Sometimes you also get lost in the crowd at large corporations. Would you want to hire the PR person that ‘oversaw’ the blog or the person that actually wrote the blog? Executives taking too much credit for their staff’s work is nothing new.

What do you do if you’re the company blogger and want to establish your own identity? In smaller circles this is easy since the majority of the people you interact with via the blog will hopefully know you. It’s a natural effect of the blog and the interaction between individuals. In many cases that might be all you need. If you’re looking to move on, often it’s the folks in the small circle that are your best resources.

Recently Jeremiah talked about his career blog, or a blog that moved with him from job to job. It’s part personal, it’s part professional. Striking the balance is the challenge though.

In my case, I’m fortunate because my name and brand, Hyku, are somewhat synonymous. But then again I work for myself :-)

A number of ‘corporate blogging’ friends I know also have personal blogs. Some are open about this, as in it’s easy to find them and the connection. A few others like to keep thing separate and on the DL. It’s only their friends that know the address. However, we all know that keeping something hidden in plain sight doesn’t always work.

One little issue is the simple Google search of their name. Many times the corporate blog will be the first result. The only way to gain control of that is to get out there and start blogging/linking, etc. Taking on too much of a personal presence could cause tension at work though.

Facebook might be the solution. A number of corporate bloggers I know are my friends on Facebook, it’s a great way to network.

Getting back to the question, what should/can a corporate blogger do to establish their identity?

First off, own your name, create a basic site/blog that is your personal brand. What you do there is open for debate, but it’s important that friends know how to locate/interact with you outside the corporation you work for.

What else should one do? Comments?


5 Responses to Corporate Social Media: The Individual’s Dependance on the Corporation – Part 2

  1. Ryan Price says:

    I’ve actually been thinking about this very subject recently. I’d like to get some cash for thinking and recording my thoughts, who wouldn’t? But how do you feel as though your identity is portable?
    I think personality is very important. Provided you have the freedom to do so, you can establish yourself as an individual through the use of voice, jokes, conventions, etc. Look at Craig Kilborn and the way he took “5 Questions” with him when he left the daily show. That must have been his invention, whereas the “Moment of Zen” remains Comedy Central’s property. By making 5Q transportable, he maintains his identity despite the new surroundings.

  2. Tucano Bandeirante says:

    I am the main person writing a pretty popular blog for my current employer. On average, I post 2-3 times a day and will get 3-4 guest blogs a month. I’m content now, but I have bought the domain name for the title of my blog, which currently goes directly to the company site. But should I decide to leave, I will throw up a site and remove the link to my employer and be ready for business.

  3. Eric Marden says:

    This is an interesting query. I mean, once you get the blogger in the blog and the blog in the blogger… how do you then separate them later.
    I think the individual has the upper hand here… as not only are they honing their skills on job, but if they have any other domain knowledge, or perhaps the point of view that made them successful on the corporate blog, in that business domain of knowledge. In other words, the individual will should always be able to parlay himself into a new place to blog – but the business will have to replace a person whose style, voice, etc. their customers have grown accustomed to, maybe even fond of. Its not impossible, but its definitely more of an uphill battle.
    For things like gadget blogs, I have found the writer’s seem to almost all have the same PoV, so it’s much easier for them to switch blogs, but not harm themselves or their own careers – since most readers follow each of the top blog for the niche. In other words, there is probably much overlap in the subscriber base of engadget and gizmodo. That’s not to say that this phenomenon is not unique to gadget blogs, but it doesn’t translate anywhere. For instance, I personally probably wouldn’t follow Merlin Mann if he were to say jump ship from 43Folders (I know – it’s his brand) and start writing articles from Life Hacker or Zen Habits. 43F is as much Merlin Mann as he is 43F. (Nor would his personality ‘fit in’ on LH or ZH, given the tone of those blogs – but I digress).
    As for strategies, it seems pretty simple:
    Companies could protect themselves from losing their ‘mouth piece’ (for lack of a better word), by having more than just one person at the helm of this communication channel. In other words, the more writers there are, the less of a chance a blog will die if it looses one of its members. In systems engineering, we call them ‘Single Points of Failure’. This set up creates a SPoF for the company, even if that SPoF is a human.
    Individuals, like wise, shouldn’t put all their eggs in one basket either. If a blogger is ‘who’ they are, then I would encourage them to peruse other avenues of expression, so that they aren’t left ‘with out a home’ if they leave the corp. blog.

  4. Eric Marden says:

    @Tucano Bandeirante
    I think your plan would be considered highly illegal. At the minimum your looking at a trademark lawsuit, especially since you can’t prove prior art with the name. I’d be selling that domain to them as soon as possible. Your plan has disaster written all over it.

  5. Dave C. says:

    So far, the stickiest area for me has been Flickr. It was tough to figure out what to do with an account that had lots of overlap, and then moving my contacts over, and people who counted me as a contact, has been a challenge. Here’s a little more on how I’m going about it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>