Tuesday, April 12, 2011

How To Use Twitter - The Pitfalls


If you take one thing away from this article, please let it be:

I’m guessing most of you read about Chrysler’s little misshape on their Twitter account @ChryslerAutos.  If you didn’t you can check it out HERE and get up to speed.

Now Chrysler isn’t the only big brand to make a mistake on Twitter.  These ‘mistakes’ are happening all of the time and many are much more difficult to resolve than with a simple, “Oh, urm…our account got hacked.” 

Looking into these occurrences I began to question what strategies, if any, these companies have in place regarding their public persona across Social Networks.  I was being forced to ask myself a very important question – Whom should you trust with your Social Marketing?  Who should steer the ship? Who should be Tweeting?

Once a Tweet is sent it is out there (forever if someone takes a screen grab as evidence).  That Tweet serves as a HTML coded monument to your fleeting thought, sudden passion or, in some instances, your sudden rage.  I’ve been both shocked and amused by some of the big mess-ups from major brands on Twitter and it just goes to show that, although appearing an easy/cheap route to reach your client base, Twitter is a very very difficult discipline.

The funniest example I could find (for those not involved anyway) was by one AT&T customer service representative that appeared to ‘go rouge’ on her employers.  Although coming from her own personal Twitter account, Rachael Pracht decided to reply to a journalist regarding an article he had written regarding AT&T’s service.  She took offence responded over Twitter:

“This is bullsh*t, I am an AT&T customer care rep & if I credit every crazy person who called in I’d get fired.” 

Sadly Rachael bit off a little more than she could chew and Siegler decided to screen grab her Tweets and post a full article on the popular website techcrunch.com. Oops Rachael.

So before you give the Twitter account to the tea boy remember that people are actually listening to what ‘you’ have to say.  Once a mess is created it is there and can become a really big headache to cleanup.  Just as those loose lips could sink ships back in 1944 carless Tweeting can damage your Brand Reputation in 2011.

So what guidelines would we suggest?

1)    Do not Tweet anything you would not say directly, face to face, to the person.
2)    Ask yourself, “Am I happy for all my followers to read what I am about to say?”
3)    Double-check your tweets!  (This simple rule can avoid a multitude of sins.) 

So next time you sit down to discuss your Twitter strategy please think carefully.   Who do you trust to be the voice of your company?  In 2011 that voice is active and influential to your brand’s reputation 24/7.

In Conclusion:

Have some guidelines in place.  If the person/s in control of your Twitter account also have a personal account make it plain that neither should meet…EVER.  Or be linked…EVER.  Caution & Common Sense is the mantra.  

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