Written by Internet, Politics

Taking Your Twitter Followers With You

A few weeks ago, Matt Deegan wrote an excellent piece about radio and usage of, and infatuation with Twitter.
He argued cogently on many aspects of stations’ use of Twitter. But towards the end of his piece he raised a question that I’m sure many stations think about depending on how their presenters are using the medium:
Also from a cynical business perspective, presenters are plugging their own accounts on your time, to [station owners’] audience. Their growth in followers comes directly from them being on your radio station. The numbers they amass and the relationship built can then be transferred to your competitor radio station.
When Chris Moyles finally disappears off Radio 1 to a new station, he’ll be giving 1 million Radio 1 fans reasons to switch radio stations.

Matt’s solution is to have presenters host the stations’ account while they’re on the air. They pass on to the next guy or gal and so on. This may work in some places, but I’m not sure it’s really what the audience is after. Part of the fun of following one of your favourite personalities – and that includes DJs – is hearing their thoughts on The Apprentice or learning about the mundane details (or otherwise) of their lives outside their broadcast hours.
But Matt absolutely has a point about potentially sending a presenters’ biggest fans off with him when he ups and moves across to a competitor.
We’ve already have Jonathan Ross take his @wossy fans away with him when he left the BBC. And now there’s a very interesting question (and answer) arising in television.
Today it was announced that the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg has been lured away to ITV, becoming their business editor.
On the one hand, it’s just the usual movement of people around their industry. But on the other, it raised the possibly the first major case of someone with a signficant Twitter following being poached by the direct opposition.
As The Guardian’s piece says, she’s a significant user of social media, primarily on Twitter as @BBCLauraK where she has nearly 60,000 followers, and her Twitter username has been promoted on BBC News programmes.
Did Kuenssberg set up her Twitter account herself? Or is it a BBC sanctioned account?
I’d guess the latter, since she has now tweeted:
As you’ve discovered I will become @ITVLauraK in September! Thanks for all the lovely tweets – Back in Westminster tomorrow
While it’s relatively straightforward to change your Twitter name – as long as the new one isn’t already taken – it seems as though she’s starting afresh. Currently the new account is dormant but already has 443 followers at time of writing.
In this instance, then, the BBC seems to have ownership and she’ll be rebuilding her following from scratch.
She being in the BBC News department, there are some undoubtedly strict rules about what you can and can’t do with regard to social media accounts. But what would happen if Rory Cellan-Jones upped and departed? His “official” Twitter account has 12,600 followers, but his older “personal” account has nearly 27,000 followers.
[Update] Interesting thoughts from The Guardian’s Jemima Kiss.