Bill Grunau

Social Media Tips: Who Owns a Twitter Account-Name

Twitter - who owns a twitter nameWho owns a Twitter name-account? When an employee is tweeting for a company, and compensated for doing this a part of their “job”, who owns the account when the employee eventually leaves? A lawsuit between a blogger and former employer over Twitter account ownership may lay some ground work to finally answer this question. Unfortunately this is not a great test case since the employment circumstances are a bit murky as wells as the promises made over compensation.

The real problem here is that the account ownership was not clearly established from the beginning and there was no transition plan established for when the employee eventually left the company. This is the big lesson to be learned from this case.  Below I have outlined

5 Steps to Protect Ownership of Your Company Twitter

  1. Brand Your Twitter Account: For company twitter accounts-names make sure your brand name is in it. For example, Comcast, Best Buy and ATT uses Twitter names such @comcastcares, @comcastvoices, ATTTeamTatiana, @ATTcustomercare, @coral_BestBuy @Gina_BestBuy. Note that Best Buy incorporated the individual’s name in the Twitter name along with their brand name. This personalizes the account and is a good idea as long as you clearly establish up front the Twitter account is owned by the company.
  2. Company email address: On Twitter the email address assigned to the account pretty much determines who has the ultimate control of the account. If the account is assigned to a company controlled email account you   have control over the email address and should the employee leave you will be able to reset the Twitter password and retain control of the account, and even rename the account if you want to. So make sure all company related Twitter accounts are set up with company email addresses and not personal email addresses such as Gmail, Yahoo, or Hotmail.
  3. Written Agreement: Set up a written agreement clearly stating that the employees social media activities on behalf of the company are to be conducted on company owned accounts and must follow company social media policies.  See my previous blogs on 10 Practical Steps to Develop a Social Media Policy and Social Media Policy Examples and Best Practices.
  4. Separate Personal and Business Social Media: Make sure your employees use your company social media accounts for business and only for business and use their personal accounts for all personal matters.  While their personal accounts are private, make sure your social media policy prohibits use of company trademarks and discussion of company business on personal accounts.
  5. Termination: Upon termination or an assignment change of an employee using a company social media make sure you do a debriefing and transfer usernames, passwords, and all other relevant information to the person that will be assuming the role moving forward. You want to make sure this is a seamless transitions without any wrinkles or missteps along the way or afterward.