Jul 1, 2010

When your employee brand ambassadors leave

Shiv Singh, one of the leading social media experts of the world recently left his firm Razorfish to join PepsiCo as head of Digital Marketing.

As one of Razorfish's most visible faces people wondered how Razorfish would be affected - and whether cultivating an employee's brand in the social web is worth the trouble if he/she leaves.

Here's a great post by Razorfish's VP of Marketing on why they believe that is not the case:

To wit: should Razorfish encourage employees to create strong brands for themselves when we know they can take their brands with them if they leave the company? My answer is an emphatic “yes.” Here’s why:

Employees are not indentured servants. The days when employees sustained lifetime employment at one company ended a long time ago. Rather than fear the inevitability of losing talent at some point, employers should embrace the reality of the employee as free agent. Employers should maximize the value of an employee’s brand while the opportunity exists. With an active social voice, a strong thought leaders can generate business leads and goodwill for your company brand. If you fail to empower a thought leader, you’re just going to leave brand-building opportunities on the table.

We live in an era when employees can build their personal brands easily — with or without the help of the employer. Employers should get with the program by empowering employees with useful guidelines such as how to Tweet effectively or guidelines for blogging. I would argue that the employer has a responsibility to help the employee use social media the right way and avoid mistakes that can hurt the employee and the company brand.
Encouraging your employees to have active social voices builds goodwill and trust. It comes down to doing the right thing and exercising some common sense at the same time: employees who feel like their employer wants to collaborate with them (instead of hamper their social voices) are going to become even stronger ambassadors. And remember, today’s employee could be your client tomorrow and most certainly will talk about you to potential hires. If and when your employee seeks a career elsewhere, he or she will pay that goodwill back to you.

Rather than fret over losing social media superstars, employers are better off building a network of them. In the case of Razorfish, we are fortunate in that we have strong talent uniformly, in my opinion.
Yes, I totally agree with that point of view