Best Practice: How to Manage Ownership of Social Media Contacts

As a financial services, legal services or other professional services business planning your social media strategy, you’ll want to think about who owns employees’ social media accounts and all their relationships.

In the services world your business is only as good as the people you employ and the skills they have. To showcase your business properly you’ll want to have all your employees on social media to display their expertise and amplify your message.

But you don’t want the connections they make to walk out the door if the employee leaves. (There have already been a few lawsuits about it.)

Here’s the answer – just as we all have a business email address and a personal email address, employees should have a business social media presence and (if they choose) a personal social media presence.

Media companies have been leading the way here. Take the BBC’s technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones for example. You can choose the formal @BBCRoryCJ, or the dog-enhanced @ruskin147.



Other media companies are taking the same approach. Here’s Channel 4’s Jon Snow.


Now the corporates are starting to follow suit in applying this best practice. Earlier this month Morgan Stanley Smith Barney launched 17,000 twitter accounts on the world– all suffixed with MSSB as a clear corporate branding.

Morgan Stanley Twitter

The Bottom Line: Business Best Practice

  1. Define a brand prefix or suffix that all your business social media accounts should have.
  2. Get accounts provisioned by internal operations staff and handed out to employees as part of the normal staff induction process
  3. Update your employee handbook (or social media policy if you have one) to make clear that company social media accounts, social media interactions and connections belong to the business not the employee.
  4. Then, if an employee leaves the company, they leave behind their company social media accounts, just like they leave behind their company email account.
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