Twitter: Do People Follow People or Follow Brands?

  • Exactly who owns a media company-branded social media account is coming into question as individuals change jobs between companies and take their followers with them.
  • Lost Remote provides the Twitter account @BBCLauraK as an example. Former BBC chief political correspondent Laura Kuenssberg recently took a job at rival ITV, and changed her account name to @ITVLauraK, effectively shifting 60,000 Twitter followers from BBC to ITV.
  • The account name change raises interesting issues. “If she built the account on the backs of BBC — under its brand — does she have the legal right to shift it to ITV?” asks Lost Remote. “Conversely, if she doesn’t convert the name, the account becomes useless unless the BBC can convert it to someone else. But are people following the person — or the content the person represents?”
  • Possible solutions may include creating Twitter accounts in a person’s name, without including the brand — or creating co-branded accounts for content verticals — or even creating two separate accounts. However, co-branded accounts may be problematic if people follow people first, and brands second.
  • We should expect this to be become a bigger issue as media companies continue their interaction with social networks. ETCentric staffer David Wertheimer asks, “Who owns your followers?”

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