Personal v. Corporate Brandstreams

I recently wrote about the conundrum of posting under your own name to serve your employer’s social media needs. We’re all familiar with our friend fronting for Ford and the man behind the @ComcastCares Twitter handle.

Many recommend using a real person in order to make the engagement more human, authentic. While other minders of (mostly) consumer-facing products lead with a commercial brand to build esteem (and followers).

In terms of the latter approach, I may enjoy their products but you won’t see me among Pepsi’s 200K+ Facebook friends and 5K+ Twitter followers or Sharpie Pens’ 13K+ FB friends. (I’m probably in the minority.)

I’m beginning to believe in a hybrid model that blends the product name with a human one. Think @Zappos (Tony Hsieh), @ComcastCares (Frank Eliason) and @Richard@Dell (Richard Binhammer). But what happens if you’ve built a personal-branded following on the back of your employer, and then leave the company for a competitor? Who owns those legions of fans – you or your employer?

One prominent corporate social media chief, who tweets under his own name, said it was no different than when a company CEO departs. And who doesn’t abscond with his “Rolodex” when moving on?

I recently noticed that our industry’s blogging pioneer (and a friend) Steve Rubel quietly added a second, personal-branded blog to his social media portfolio. It’s called The Steve Rubel Lifestream. I asked him about it:

Why did you start Lifestream?

In my role I am charged with helping Edelman and our clients innovate. As part of this I am always evaluating new platforms and services. Posterous is one of those platforms.

I started the Lifestream because I was attracted to the simplicity of Posterous as well as the ability to post and “manage” it via email. There are many days when I am accessing the Internet more from my iPhone than I am on a PC so this was the ideal technology. I also wanted to find something in between Twitter and a blog – and a site that could handle multimedia easily (which Posterous does also via email).

What are the differences between the Lifestream and Micropersuasion (content-wise)?

I am still figuring this out but I believe that Micro Persuasion will become a place solely for essays (eg longer think pieces). The Lifestream site will also post these but also include far more links, photos and videos – all with bits of insights and daily. Twitter will post links to new items but also be more or engaging in conversation than just seeding links.

How do you find time to feed/sustain both blogs (and service clients too)?

It’s not easy but basically my entire life is centered around work. I don’t have my own family. I have no plans to have one so this allows me to focus more of energies here.

What happens to these blogs should you ever decide to leave Edelman?

All of these are personal sites that I own. So they would remain with me. That said I love my role with the firm and I plan to be here a long time.

There you have it. I guess I should probably figure out what to do with the domain Any ideas?