You heard of recruiting (or social recruiting, which is a bit of an oxymoron) about employment branding. They mostly discuss the two people recruiters need to converse: 1) the community manager, who knows everything from the company, the users, the product, the whole works; and 2) the brand ambassadors who can help promote the company’s mission and values. There’s one set of group the businesses should care about: the wild cards.
The “wild cards” are the people who have their own audience that is separate from the business they are in. At times, the person could be bigger than the company they work for and people flock to them because they admire their work. A good example of “wild cards” are the “brand journalists” that are coming up in journalism like Andrew Sullivan, Ezra Klein, Bill Simmons, and Nate Silver.
Of note: “wild cards” are full-time or part-time employees who take the benefits and perks of the company, not freelancers or contractors.
Why I like “wild cards” because they bring a different tone to the company. For most brand ambassadors, they almost sound like salespeople telling applicants why they like the company. The “wild card” does not have to worry about the company image because they have their own image they create for their followers. The “wild cards” separate the pack from other followers for their charisma and talent.
Now Tracy, what about controlling this “wild card” person? We’re worried, from the description you gave, this person can say whatever they want and is a huge risk for our company.
Of course the “wild card” is a risk, so is anyone you hired. This is where the company and the “wild card” need to talk about what you can and cannot do. Definitely, the “wild card” cannot bash the company they’re working with and air the company’s dirty laundry. However, the company needs the “wild card” to bring their audience to like their product/service. The “wild card” is not obligated to promote it, but by their association to your company, the “wild card” does not need to heavily promote it to death.
The “wild cards” are the rebels of the company. Companies hire them to bring a different (or diverse some say) audience. “Wild cards” do need guidelines, but they should be left alone. It’s fine for people to promote their company to bring people over or buy their goods, but it’s much better if you do it your way.