When employees access Twitter during the day, do the tweets they write represent the company or themselves?
Odds are, a bit of both.
In his blog today, Jeremiah Owyang (@jowyang), a senior Forrester analyst, presented four Twitter profile types that he sees most commonly on the service, ranging from strictly company managed accounts to employees who keep a pure personal account separate from their company.
As Twitter becomes more pervasive, employees won’t be able to disassociate themselves from their company; nor the company from its employee. This will upset people who cling to this notion that our personal and professional lives can be separated. But as soon as you surrender to the reality that social technologies intertwine those two lives like never before, they’ll stop wasting their energy fighting it.
As I started gaining a list of followers on Twitter, I briefly considered starting an account for friends and family to follow me, and keep one entirely dedicated for work. But then I said: Who has the time? If I had to keep a couple Twitter accounts open during the day, and update both of them, it would get old in a hurry. Secondly, the emergence of apps like TweetDeck allow me to organize tweets by sorting them into nice tidy window panes — friends and family in this window, work people in this one, and hundreds of people I don’t know in the other.
So far as my employer is concerned, I never leak any information I shouldn’t. I will drop an occasional tweet that suggests my political leanings or my allegiance to certain New England sports teams, but certainly nothing shocking or over-the-top controversial.
This middle ground approach might not work for everyone, especially if you feel passionately about more sensitive topics (politics, religion, etc.). The real question will be how much time do you want to spend tending both those lives?
This is an issue that has been an issue for many of my readers (you’ve written to me about it). I wrote up some Twitter tips on how to safely blend the personal and professional, but it’s an issue with which people will continue to grapple (and that I’m interested in hearing more about).