Professor Alexandra Samuel has an extremely interesting piece in the Monday, October 29,2012 edition of the Wall Street Journal (page B7), “Your Employee Is an Online Celebrity. Now What Do You Do?“
It also strikes pretty close to home. Because of my efforts on The Summa and Pondering the Classroom, I’ve been named twice to the Accounting Today list of “Top 100 Most Influential People.” My name is recognized by accountants in many countries, and I have a respectable Klout score. I have a lot of followers. Does all this make me an online celebrity? Compared to most business professors and many accountants, I dare say it does.
In several blog posts, I’ve written of the need for financial and other professionals to work on their personal professional brand. A professional brand is a succinct description of who is a particular accountant, lawyer or professor. Getting a professional brand out there (on the Internet) is important because others are using the Internet to search for such professionals. If one’s professional brand isn’t out there, then potential opportunity losses can add up. Also, modern social media platforms aid in managing the brand. Having a professional brand is an important asset when looking for a new job, as employers seek new professionals who can add value.
Online professional brands are created, developed and managed through the major social media portals, such as blogging, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. The goal is to become known as an authority. Followers are attracted to those who either create or pass along the most insightful information. Being able to engage or interact with followers is essential.
This is an emerging issue that more and more companies and professional firms will need to deal with, if they don’t already have to deal with it.
So, what does Dr. Samuel say about the phenomenon? She lists pluses and minuses, which I quote verbatim. The pluses are:
- Prestige. The company that can claim the top-ranked blogger, tweeter or influencer on a subject will be the go-to shop for customers.
- Leads. The employee who engages in regular online conversations is building relationships that can be converted into new customers.
- Free Media. Employees with a significant online following will get inexpensive attention for your company from journalists looking for experts.
- Recruitment. Companies that employ social media starts will attract other high-achieving, driven professionals.
The minuses are:
- Prima Donnas. A few thousand Twitter followers or LinkedIn connections can lead to inflated egos–and inflated salary expectations.
- Distraction. Co-branded employees may devote so much time to cultivating their own global brand that they neglect their core duties.
- Leaks. Employees may deliberately or accidentally use internal or client information as social media fodder.
- Resentment. Social media celebrities may damage team cohesion or inspire complaints.
Dr. Samuel suggests the following questions need to be properly addressed:
- Can they tweet/blog/facebook on the job?
- Should the online celebrity credit co-workers?
- How much should brands align?
- What is a social media presence worth?
- Who owns that blog?
The presence of online active professors surely makes for problems in academia. In accredited business schools, getting peer-reviewed journal articles is the base and most important requirement for pay, promotion and tenure. Some schools also require teaching in addition to the publications. Some schools may reward committee work in addition to publications and teaching, but only in a minor way. Never-the-less, getting journal articles in difficult to find, rarely read journals is the primary responsibility for business professors.
At the present time, social media activity does not count for a business academic. Yet it has value. When a B-school has an online celebrity emerge, then the question of what to do with the celebrity must be addressed.
Debit and credit – - David Albrecht