Co-branding on TwitterIt’s Twitter Tip Tuesday — every Tuesday we’ll focus on one Twitter tip and show you how to integrate it into your social media strategy. This week we talk about co-branding, what it is, and why it’s a good idea to encourage your employees to co-brand their Twitter profiles with your brand.

What is Co-branding?

To properly understand “co-branding,” we must first look at two more common, and related terms: branding and personal branding. Branding is the all-encompassing image that represents and summarizes an entity or organization.

For example, think of a soft drink. Chances are, you thought of Coca-Cola. You probably also envisioned the red, stylized font that makes up Coke’s unmistakable logo. That’s branding — and Coke is one of the strongest and well-known brands in the entire world.

Personal branding is a newer term and basically mirrors everything we mentioned above — but in the context of an individual. In the marketing world, for example, Seth Godin’s bald-headed, bespectacled image provides a great example of a personal brand that transcends any company he may have worked for — past, present, or future.

It follows that co-branding is a voluntary merging or sharing of one’s personal brand with a corporate brand, wherein both parties receive a benefit. We’ll provide some examples of co-branding, and how it relates to Twitter, in the sections below.

Co-branding From Executives

Co-branding from Executives - Tony Hseih

Social media has been a powerful catalyst for people to get to know know the people behind the brands they patronize and many CEOs have realized the value of of putting a personal face on their corporate entities.

Tony Hseih of Zappos (pictured above), Peter Aceto of online bank ING Direct, and even our own Justyn Howard, provide great examples of chief executives co-branding their Twitter profiles to represent their companies with a noticeably personal flavor.

Co-branding From Employees

Employee co-branding

Of course, co-branding is not just for CEOs. There’s a great deal of value in permitting, or more accurately, encouraging co-branding of your employees’ Twitter accounts.

In today’s world, it’s not uncommon for employees to join your organization with their own personal brands, complete with large followings on social platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and more. While it may be the case that these pre-existing social networks overlap with your corporation’s networks, more often than not, your employees’ social media circles are different than your organization’s.

By encouraging your employees to maintain their personal brands and include information and links about your company in their profiles after they come to work for you, you’re going to expose your brand to entirely different markets. With social channels now increasingly influencing Internet search results, co-branding may even help your company get found online. Like the proverbial roads that all lead to Rome, even indirect social media mentions of your company from your employees (and the networks they connect with), can lead customers back to your door.

Furthermore, more and more employees now expect to have access to social media at work. With many younger employees now stating that this is even more important to them than salary considerations, why not at least get some mutual benefit from allowing your employees to tweet on the job?

How To Encourage Co-branding at Your Organization

Encourage Your Employees to Co-brand
Make sure that everyone is on the same page when it comes
to using social media at work. Provide guidelines in the form of a social media policy that governs how and when employees can co-brand their Twitter profiles with your corporate information. To increase the likelihood of buy-in and compliance, focus on what your staff is permitted to do, as opposed to what is expressly prohibited.

Help everyone at your organization get involved with co-branding by providing social media training to those staff who need it. Alternatively, encourage and support social media savvy staff to mentor those who want to get involved but who may be intimidated or reluctant to adopt this new policy.

Finally, lead by example. If you don’t have a Twitter profile of your own, or if it’s one of those pseudonymous or stodgy corporate accounts, ditch it in favor of a profile like one from the corporate executives mentioned above. Don’t be afraid to humanize yourself and your brand. Help your employees find a voice that can be amplified — and benefit both parties — through effective co-branding.

Do any of your employees have strong personal brands? Do you encourage them to co-brand their Twitter profiles with your corporate information? Let us know in the comments.

[Image credit: U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service – Northeast Region]