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The rise of the ‘Twintern’

May 28, 2013

Twitter. Oh, that’s social media. Young people are naturals; digital natives - they’ll know what to do.  And so management of the Twitter feed is instantly delegated to the most junior member of staff or even a work experience student.
 
Sensible?
 
It certainly makes sense to have someone enthusiastic running a company Twitter feed.  A junior person who already understands how Twitter works could well also immediately add useful knowledge and insights that someone new to it will take time to gain.  But on the other hand, the way they use Twitter with their friends is likely to be very different to the way you’d like them to engage with your customers.  How much will that keen Tweeter know about your target audience? About your brand? About the messages you want to get across?  
 
In all the excitement about social media, it’s easy to forget that Twitter, Facebook and the rest are just tools. They can only be effective if you know why you are using them and what you want to communicate.  Otherwise, at best, they are idle chatter.  At worst, they can lead to serious embarrassment – there’s rarely a week go by without the press gleefully reporting the latest brand or celebrity Twitter slip-up.
 
Ed Miliband’s recent tweet about Sir Alex Ferguson retiring came across more like an obituary and he was instantly mobbed with people criticising the tone of the tweet.  Had he really written it or had he said to a team member ‘we should put something nice on twitter about his retirement’.  Either way it seemed hasty and badly thought through.    
 
What goes onto Twitter goes out into the world.  It’s as much part of your brand as anything you have on your website or in print.  If you do plan to harness the enthusiasm of staff members, then the key is not to simply let them run wild, but to give them training on what’s appropriate for your brand, what you are trying to achieve, what sort of people your customers are and what sort of communication they will respond to. 
 
And once you do hand over the Twitter password, keep an eye on what’s happening.  You can ask that routine Tweets be scheduled for approval before sending, via Hootsuite, Tweetdeck or one of the other Twitter platforms. There’s also www.muffleit.com, a new tool which allow you to check what’s going out and to gauge public reaction and pull problem Tweets before too much harm is done.  
 
You don’t want to be so strict staff feel they are being censored and can’t engage naturally with followers. There’s a challenge involved in finding the right balance. But your reputation is precious.  Look after it!

Posted by Jenni Malley
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