Time and time again people have posted things to their corporate Twitter feed that has really blown up in their face and surprisingly, the big corporate machines have been just as guilty of this as the rest of us. So I've rustled up a few tips to help you stop your tweets turning into 140 character time bombs that explode into twittersphere.
In all honesty, I look at Twitter in the same way that I look at other sources of written communication - books, blogs, magazines, websites, social networking - they all have a purpose and can be used effectively but each presents it's own dangers as well. This is a huge challenge for companies.
Don’t get me wrong, Twitter can definitely add value to any business that uses it well. It is a great way to reinforce your brand, share news and important information, gather feedback, advertise and most importantly, start a dialogue with your customers and prospects – and the only cost is the time of the people involved with managing your Twitter account.
But it's surprising just how many organisations don’t use them effectively and there are some who don’t even seem to think before they tweet. Surely, before you’re going to say something publicly that will reflect on your company or brand, you should take just a split second to think about what you’re posting? I know the first thing that pops into my head isn’t always something that I’d want to broadcast!
Here’s a little list I pulled together for corporate tweeters:
The Definitely Do Not Tweet List!
1. Don’t just use twitter as an advertising medium – it doesn’t work that way. Twitter is designed for relationship building. The most successful corporate accounts provide insights and value to the general listener.
2. Don’t complain about your colleagues or clients on Twitter. If they don’t read it someone else will tell them about it, trust me, it will get back to them!
3. Don’t get defensive about negative criticism of your company or it’s services, use the opportunity to show those listening that you care about what they think and try to resolve any issues they have.
4. Don’t post about any confidential company affairs or finances. This can get your company in a lot of trouble and will almost definitely leave you without a job.
5. Don’t publicise any private issues or jeopardise the company’s working relationships.
6. Don't #hashtag every topic. After a while, your topics will just be ignored and you will be un-followed.
7. Don't tweet about any issues you have with a co - worker or your employer or anyone else for that matter – try talking to them about it! This just makes both you and your company look really unprofessional (not to mention a tad passive aggressive!) not such a good look.
8. Don't tweet your eating habits. Seriously. Just don't do it.
9. Don’t think having an anonymous account or user profile makes any of the above okay.
To illustrate this last point, I leave you with this example, posted by the official Google Maps API twitter account, just after the news broke about the death of the ‘King of Pop’ Michael Jackson. It's a pretty insensitive attempt to use some completely unrelated news to attract people to their website, which they have since deleted: