Of Baked Potatoes and Corporate Branding

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2379761285_e942b961ae My favorite LinkedIn-related quote of the past few weeks is from Erik Dafforn at ClickZ, who asks, “When does social media matter in SEM?“:

LinkedIn has been a workhorse of social networking sites, sort of a baked potato to FaceBook’s bag of Skittles. People likely spend less time per visit on LinkedIn than they do on other networking sites. This is fine for most of its users, as LinkedIn is designed to work for you while you’re doing your job, rather than trying to avoid it.

I love that last line! (my emphasis)

Erik then goes on to offer some very sound advice for companies:

Your HR department or some other official body must get into LinkedIn to consolidate and verify certain issues. Chances are that scads of your employees already use the site and have listed your company in their profiles but have been inaccurate in describing the company. As a result, LinkedIn company profiles are only as accurate as the details individual users have added.

An employee’s profile is not “owned” by their employer, but it’s perfectly reasonable — in fact, I’d say it should be obligatory — for companies to review employee’s profiles and make sure that they are representing the corporate brand correctly and consistently.

There’s a fine line here — you don’t want all your employees sounding like robots programmed to recite the company’s mission as a mantra. You want to give employees leeway to offer their own unique personal perspective on the company. But you also want to reinforce the corporate brand.

Just handle with care. Think of it as a training opportunity.

Image: Jesse Sneed via Flickr

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6 Comments

  1. This can be very dodgy territory as your employee also has the right to privacy but I do agree that they shouldn’t be allowed to just sully the company’s name willy nilly.

  2. @ Brendan “This can be very dodgy territory as your employee also has the right to privacy”

    Yeah, I agree. I thought for a moment that I was going to firmly disagree with Scott, but then he rounded it out in a nice and balanced way. As a business owner, I’m reminded I need to check on this sort of thing more, without going overboard.

  3. In my opinion, as long as employees use the company name in ANY way (specially in social networking sites), the company’s HR department still has jurisdiction over this and my ask the employee to edit or remove inaccurate company information. I think this is perfectly justifiable. Company employee handbooks would normally have this stipulated somewhere in there anyway. If not, they should be.

    Pete
    Carlsbad Property Management

  4. I’m not with you on this one.

    Linkedin is a personal, professional social networking system.

    Don’t know what the corporate brand has to do with that.

    Its also in the employee’s best interest to describe their employer correctly as its a reflection on them as well.

    But to say a company has a right to get involved with an employee linked in profile is a bit off in my opinion.

  5. I am inclined to agree with Taylor on this one but I note that the word professional is used in the description of LinkedIn.

    And if an individual behaves in a professional manner then there will likely be no issue for the company. It is in both the individual’s and the company’s interest to portray matters in the most appropriate manner.

    However it is the disgruntled, disenchanted or dismissed employee that will be the issue – and unless there are clearly defined guide lines things can quickly go astray. Especially if the person concerned has left the employ of the company and there is now no longer any legal constraint.

    I would suggest that much of this should be covered in the original employment agreement – that would avoid many problems in the first palce.

  6. This is a little unrelated, but a friend of mine works for Michael Page(world’s largest recruitment company) and they just forced all staff to sign a document that basically meant all their LinkedIn contacts are now owned by MP.

    Is that a common thing amongst most companies as it seems a little absurd?

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