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Last Thursday, the 21st July 2011, the BBC lost over 65,000 followers on twitter – straight to a main rival. ITV.

Laura Kuenssberg, formerly the BBC’s Chief Political Correspondent, recently left for greener pastures over at ITV, and in doing so, changed her Twitter feed from @BBCLauraK to @ITVLauraK, taking her 65,000 Twitter followers with her.
Ownership of social media channels have always been a topic for debate. In my experience, I’ve seen large organisations getting funny about a board executive taking their favorite office plant when they leave, but then wonder why they allowed an intern to leave with the corporate YouTube channel and several thousand subscribers.

It’s time for organisations to wake up and realise that as the more technologically able Generation Y dominates the workplace, public facing employees are building up their own audience. People like dealing with people, and losing a good employee with a strong social audience is akin to football teams losing a star player. When Christiano Ronaldo moved to Real Madrid, a small percentage of fans would have moved with him, because there will always be some people who are more loyal to the individual than the club, the brand, the organisation. But that’s a whole different blog post.

Stealing your Facebook friends

This story heavily emphasises the need for both organisations and brands to implement a social media policy today.

The BBC do have a pretty detailed social media policy in place, hence why when Laura Kuenssberg left, she was obliged (I’m not saying that she wouldn’t have done anyway) to disclose to all her followers that she had left, and pointed them in the direction of her successor, so those more interested in Politics rather than Laura’s new position at ITV could easily switch over.

"But follow @BBCNormanS who’s stepping into my shoes in Westminster – but I hope you keep following me here"

Social media marketing is a great way of helping organisations and employees engage directly with customers, helping drive new business and develop new routes to market. However, you wouldn’t entrust unqualified employees to speak on behalf of your whole organisation at a local conference, so why would you allow employees to speak on behalf of your brand to a global audience without proper training or direction?

Organisations need to have a social media policy in place to govern how employees use social networks in the workplace. We’ve a wealth of experience developing social media policies for organisations such as PR agencies, right through to global technology companies. If you would like to talk to Receptional about your social media marketing, and get some advice on your social media policy, give us a call, or email me (bjordan@receptional.com), and we can discuss how social media marketing can benefit your business!