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August 13, 2010

All your followers are belong to us?

In our latest hiring round, I’m seeing something new: candidates with existing social media networks. If we hire one of these candidates, we will need to figure out how social media participation as a Scriptorium employee can co-exist with established personal blogs, Twitter accounts, and the like.


Blogs seem like the easier problem to address, as we expect consultants to blog at least occasionally, and generally about work-related topics. I think we can fairly easily define a set of blog topics that need to go on the Scriptorium site; other content can stay with the personal blog. For example, the following would go on our site:

  • Trends in technical communication
  • Ideas or opinions sparked by work

10 ducklings!


Here’s where things are going to get dicey. The “cleanest” approach would be to have a new consultant create a new Twitter account and use that for professional tweeting. But the loss of existing followers makes that impractical at best.

It is reasonable for Scriptorium (or any employer) to make demands about an existing Twitter account as a condition of employment? Can we afford not to do so?

I think our policy will have to be a variation of:

“People will know you work for us, so you are representing us even in the social media channels that you established before coming to work here. Therefore, you need to be careful about what you publish.”

Next interesting question: If you are in technical communication and we hire you, I expect that you will use your existing Twitter leverage to support Scriptorium’s social media efforts. Is that reasonable?

What about a separation?

Blog posts written for on company time are clearly our intellectual property. But, what if someone leaves the company? Do we keep their posts on the site? (So far, we have.) Do we keep their name on the posts or change it to a generic “posted by Scriptorium”? (I can see the arguments for either approach—I’m especially concerned about potential confusion if a former employee’s name is prominent within our blog archives.)

What if a departing employee wants to move or copy their posts to a personal blog?

Am I just borrowing trouble here?

I can’t find a precedent.

Sometimes, being out on the bleeding edge hurts. I looked around for recommendations in this area and couldn’t find anything. There are, of course, social media policies, but they’re mostly about employees who start to blog, how employees might tweet, and keeping Facebook profiles relatively family-friendly. I couldn’t find anything how existing social media activity might be assimilated (uh-oh) with corporate social media activity.

There is an interesting article from 2009 about Jeremiah Owyang, who left Forrester (big analyst firm) to become a partner in the Altimeter Group. In summary: He used social media to build his industry visibility and thus his personal brand, which then gave him options outside the friendly confines of Forrester.

The resumé of the future

Will we see resumé headings like this?

Joe Consultant
@twitterhandle (1,200 followers)
blog: (10,000 unique visits per month)
1911 Evans Road, Cary, North Carolina 27513
phone: 919-481-2701
email: [email protected]

What are your thoughts?