Once you decide your business should be represented in social networking the question becomes: how?
There are essentially 3, non-exclusive, types of social networking accounts that you can have for your company.
The Corporate Social Networking Account
The corporate account is characterized by a company logo branded avatar.
The voice is The Official Corporate Voice: think the style, language and, yes, hyperbole that tends to characterize most company press releases. The word stuffy comes to mind.
Can be a team of people writing.
As an officious account there is little chance for interaction, for engagement; its The Machine, anonymous. A faceless account.
Pro: very easy account to maintain; official representation.
Con: limited in scope.
The Personalized Corporate Social Networking Account
When a corporate account is maintained mainly by one clearly identified person, the account becomes personalized. It gains a human voice.
The branding of the account remains corporate: this is the company.
Using a human voice this type of corporate account can step out of the officious role and easily engage and interact with people. The only limit remains that it is a corporate account, it speaks for and about the corporation, and thus certain things cannot or should not be said.
Pro: much better received than purely corporate accounts.
Con: takes more effort/time; stands or falls with affability of the person behind the account.
The Personal Social Networking Account
A person speaking about and sometimes for the company. Often employees personal accounts.
A very engaging type of account with a lot of personal voice. Theres no corporate branding; the avatar tends to be the photo of the person behind the account.
Pro: highly engaging; flexible; swift; tremendous possibility of scope.
Con: takes more effort/time; mixing of personal/professional.
Which Social Networking Account Should My Business Have?
You need a corporate account, preferably personalized, and may have personal accounts.
Just as your business should, ideally, be findable by typing yourbusinessname.com, it should be officially represented on major social networking sites under its own name. E.g., twitter.com/yourbusinessname.
When your brand needs to speak with authority for itself, that authority is best conveyed and underlined by being the brand.
As a corporate account, the personalized corporate account can do most things a traditional corporate account can and some of what a purely personal account would. This is your number one preferred account.
These days the personal account is almost always automatically there; either you or your employees already express themselves online on social networking sites. These accounts can be both tremendously effective and dramatically destructive, depending on who says what.
Because they are so effective and because they are inevitable, this is an also account " not an instead of. And because it can be such a destructive account, it is one that asks for an internal, corporate social networking policy.