Thoughts and opinions are my own, and not that of my employer.
It’s rare that I get through a day without seeing some variation of this phrase in someone’s Twitter bio. In case you haven’t noticed, several members of the KashFlow team are pretty active on Twitter. At a networking event last night, someone expressed surprise at the fact that my personal Twitter account was listed on my company business card. ‘So, do KashFlow “own” that account?’ he asked me, a bemused expression on his face. Despite being a little taken aback that someone could reach this conclusion, it isn’t the first time that someone has done so.
My personal Twitter account offers a peek into the disorganised, occasionally chaotic thoughts and musings that make up what goes on in my head on a daily basis. From time to time, I also use it to talk about KashFlow and recommend the software to people. Of the split between talking business and…well, everything else, KashFlow probably makes up less than 5% of the content I tweet about. That said, I imagine that it fuels brand awareness just as much as tweets from the ‘official’ KashFlow account. This isn’t because I’m a hugely influential tweeter (at just shy of 1,500 followers I have a little over half as many followers as @KashFlow), but because people who follow me a) probably aren’t already aware of the software when they see me talking about it and b) they value my opinion.
This isn’t to say that people don’t value the opinions of a company, because they can, but they’re more likely to trust a Twitter account associated with a face and a ‘life’ than one with a logo and a set of initials that clocks off at 6pm – it’s worth noting that the official Mashable account, which has almost 3 million followers, still features as (creepily close-up…) picture of Pete Cashmore as its display pic. How often Cashmore is actually behind the tweets is another matter.
Having used KashFlow when freelancing, I feel comfortable recommending the software to friends and followers because it’s always done the job well for me – if I didn’t believe in the product, I wouldn’t recommend it on my personal account. Simple. The fact that I now work here full-time is almost a non-issue; if I had chosen to set up a new account (@KashFlowStu maybe?) instead…well, let’s just say I doubt it would have 1,500 followers by now.
The issue becomes a little more complicated when people actively market their Twitter account as being connected to an organisation. Last year, for example, there was a lot of debate on the subject when the BBC’s Chief Political Correspondent, Laura Kuenssberg, changed her Twitter handle from @BBCLauraK to @ITVLaura. Whether or not the 60,000 followers who ‘left’ with Laura belonged to the BBC or not was hotly contested, and a definitive answer was never found. It is, however, worth noting that in the wake of the incident, a number of newsreaders, journalists etc removed the name of their publication, network etc from their handles and replaced it with ‘news’ or ‘journo’ instead.
Just this week there was another Twitter handle related incident, as the owner of @TextInstagram (a parody account that sent out tweets describing typical shots on Instagram) changed its handle and content to reflect his personal account. Within a couple of days he had dropped 12,000 of the followers acquired when the account was @TextInstagram, with many of them hitting out at him for pulling this ‘bait and switch’. While this doesn’t directly reflect that of the balance between business and personal accounts, it’s clear that people don’t appreciate it when something they have signed up for changes to something else. It’s easy to see that businesses trying to claim the personal accounts of individuals who have decided to leave the business could end up with a similar situation on their hands.
So, in answer to the question I was asked last night, KashFlow doesn’t own my Twitter account. But don’t be surprised if you see it come up as a topic on there from time to time.