The whole personal branding sphere is taking off in a big way, with individuals using social media to build a brand, and in many cases a following for their thoughts and their work. You could have a widely read blog or an influential Twitter account for instance.
All of which is fine, but it creates an interesting situation with regards to how these individual brands work when placed inside an organisation. Does it change how these people should be managed? What do you do if their personal brand is at odds with your corporate brand?
It’s a new enough phenomenom that it hasn’t really been dealt with yet, but the times are rapidly changing, and it’s an issue that managers will need to get to grips with sooner rather than later.
First things first though. This isn’t something you can quash or remove. People increasingly work very hard at their personal brand, and many will arrive at your organisation with a following already cultivated. It’s perfectly reasonable for them to defend this work, especially as it’s quite probable that their following will last for longer than their job with you. Besides which, if you manage things properly then you can start utilising your employees networks for your own benefits.
Nevertheless it does raise some interesting questions. I mean can you impart any kind of control over these communities? Should you compensate the employee if you ask to utilise them for work? How do you balance things between those with a following and those without?
Here are a few things you’ll need to consider when managing such employees:
- Make sure they stay focused – Building up a following online can be addictive and there is a real temptation for people to work on their own communities rather than the work they should be doing. So it’s important to make sure that you measure the output of your employees and ensure they are pulling their weight. Without sitting over their shoulder monitoring what they do all day it’ll never be possible to check whether they’re building their own profile or helping yours, but if you focus instead on their output rather than their input then you will know if they’re doing their job effectively.
- Be up front about what is expected – Before you start you should determine whether the two brands do overlap, and therefore whether any work can be done to the benefit of both parties. If there can be you should sit down and discuss the best way for this to occur that you’re both happy with. This discussion has to happen to ensure you’re not saying different things, or even hampering your marketing efforts.
- Focus pay on results – People with a large following may expect a pay rise in return for access to their large community of followers. Doing this may cause inequities between your team, so instead focus on the outputs they’re achieving, as some may do just as well without their social media followings.
- Be clear on who owns what – Lets say you provide time and resources to building that persons following on social media, there may then be issues over who actually owns the community that was cultivated. You should create a clear understanding about what is and what is not expected, and make those guidelines clear before any work is begun. That transparency and clarity will avoid any conflicts later on.
Whether you adopt an open or closed policy will be a matter for you to decide based upon your own business needs, but the important thing is to provide guidelines right from the start on how things will work. Having social media stars on the payroll can be an undoubted advantage for any business, but as with any employee, you need to ensure they’re managed in the right way.