Social media contacts. Who owns them?

It’s been an interesting week. I’ve just finished with a project that involved creating a website that is fully integrated with all the social media touchstones – Linkedin Company Page, Facebook Business Page, Twitter etc. – and I’m about to roll out a company wide integration of individual social media accounts.

Here’s where it gets interesting. The client is asking employees to either sign over “ownership” of their existing Twitter, Linkedin and Facebook accounts along with all the contacts contained within, or create new profiles for each of the networks and not use their existing social media contacts for business purposes.

This client is a fairly large player in the Canadian recruiting industry and the position they have is that social media contacts have the same value as the Rolodex of yesteryear. So it only stands to reason that when somebody leaves the firm, they don’t get to take all the business with them.

So who really owns the contacts you make at work? Is it even possible to successfully segregate your previous contacts? Is this just an issue with the recruiting industry? Surely, the same arguments can be made for sales reps in any industry. What about media? If a journalist with a substantial social media following leaves a newspaper or television network, do they have to hand over those followers?

Let’s say you are a new employee and you have been busily working LinkedIn for a number of years prior to coming on board. Is it proper to a)require you to turn over  potential leads to your new employer without compensation and b) can you work effectively starting from scratch on LinkedIn, knowing the contacts you’re making are most likely temporary and non-transferable?

If you choose not to transfer clients from your old account, what do you do when an opportunity comes up and you think you may have a good fit – but contacting that person means you won’t ever be able to contact them again if you were to change jobs? What if it’s your brother in law?

And when you leave the company – and eventually most of us do –  those Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin company accounts don’t come with you, leaving a big hole in your digital footprint – by stripping a valuable chunk of the work connections we now take for granted.

Using LinkedIn to conduct business and find leads is changing the way companies in all industries operate. As more and more of them become aware of the power of Linkedin, this issue is sure to get a bit more play.

So you want to publish a book: publicity and marketing

This series was originally posted in 2008

Publicity and marketing is harder to speak about at this stage. We spent the better part of September looking at different firms to see what each had to offer.

As Jim has said to me many times, a lot of these places like to have release parties that do more for the author’s ego than for actual book sales – because attendees are more likely to be friends and family rather than actual media contacts. So in that respect, for an author on a small budget, it’s better to direct your funds toward activities that are most likely to land you in the press and generate some sales.

For Moose we decided to go with Meisner Publicity in Toronto. Headed by Susan Meisner, they seem to have no end of connections and come to the table with plenty of good ideas to get press.

This is the one area where I think if you absolutely have to cut expenses you can. But don’t delude yourself. You’ll need to be a shameless advocate of your book 24/7 if you want to succeed. You’ll have to buy some books on writing great news releases and be fearless and creative when it comes to targeting media. If you have any hesitation about going it alone – get a publicist.

For my own part, I built a little site that’s still in beta called A Writer’s Market. I like to think of it as a farmer’s market for authors. Have a quick look and see how it’s coming along. If you know an author, then send a link. I really need some folks to help test it.

I hope you found this little series useful. If you have any questions, send them along and I’ll be happy to answer them as best I can.