I like to think that while SBS gives me an amazing profile and platform, my twitter followers follow me because of the brand that I’ve built as a business journalist throughout the years and my friends follow me, because, well I’m interesting… Sometimes #financenerd. But their also following me because of the SBS brand and what it stands for.
In the US, Mobile company PhoneDog is suing former employer Noah Kravitz for $340,000 for the continued use of a twitter account he was given access to while under the company’s employment. Noah simply changed his twitter handle and kept his 17,000 followers.
That’s the basics of the case, however there’s also claims of defamation which I’ll leave alone for now.
The problem with twitter is that most users, especially journalists, use it as both a personal and professional tool to engage with users. I don’t see anything wrong with that. Most news organizations already have an official handle that blogs and tweets straight out news, but by allowing journos to tweet with their own flair, adds to the personal experience and interaction with followers, and thus, hopefully, mean more viewers or readers.
Personally, I do believe people read or watch a particular program because they like the reporter or presenter or actor. It may not be the only reason, but it certainly is part of it.
While twitter users do have a responsibility to maintain and respect their employer’s brand, I think it would be a real shame if their ability to tweet was strictly controlled.
If that were the case, twitter for business especially news, would then turn into a purely news or business based platform, with no interaction, killing another element of the news interactive experience which needs to be embraced as viewers and readers change they way they consume products and services, especially news.
Sure my handle includes the SBS brand, that’s because I mainly tweet finance and news related tweets. I’m tweeting as part of my role on air, to engage with viewers, but viewers are also engaging with me because of my previous work with Sky News, Channel 9 and others, along with my personal contacts. The employer wins right now, because my contact base is drawing them to the news service. It’s the same as when a journo moves from one company to another, they move and their news contacts move with them.
This US twitter case will be interesting to watch because if it sets a precedent that tweets should only be work related or owned by organizations, then I think companies are in danger of losing a free advertising tool, which is basically costing them nothing to promote their service.
Many organizations are also developing guidelines as to how and what their staff should be able to tweet. It certainly is an evolving area, one that I’m watching keenly.