In the wake of micro-blogging site, Twitter, reaching the landmark half-a-million member milestone last week it’s clear to see the continued popularity of social networking. However, after a number of very public corporate Twitter blunders I thought it would be a good idea to take a closer look at the perils of this online phenomenon.
Since being set up in 2006, Twitter has grown rapidly and now boasts an average of 11.3 accounts registered each second. Although it’s still 345 million users behind its biggest social media rival, Facebook, industry experts believe this number will continue to rise. I believe it’s success is largely down to the multi-faceted nature of the site. Whilst some people use Twitter to share comments and pictures with likeminded individuals, others use it connect with celebrities or promote their businesses. On a more serious level, the instantaneous nature of the site allows it to act as an international news platform as clearly demonstrated during the riots last year (rioters aside obviously!)
With the obvious advantages of Twitter becoming all too apparent for many companies, the last few years have seen an increased number jump on the Twitter bandwagon in an attempt to raise their profile. However, it’s worth remembering that whilst it’s great that the use of Twitter helps company’s to connects to a worldwide audience, this same audience will be watching if mistakes are make – and they certainly have been!
Last year multinational automaker Chrysler began trending on Twitter for all the wrong reasons when a member of staff manning the company’s official Twitter account posted an accidental tweet. The post ‘I find it ironic thatDetroitis known as the #motorcity and yet no one here knows how to *** drive’ was particularly damaging as the company was currently involved in a high profile campaign celebratingDetroit. The staff member was consequentially sacked but the damage was already done and witnessed by Chrysler’s 8,000 followers.
More recently American clothing designer, Kenneth Cole was forced to apologise after attempting to use the recent protests inEgyptas a springboard to promote its new range. While protestors demonstrated inCairoat the start of the Egyptian revolution, Cole posted a tweet stating that ‘Millions are in uproar in #Cairo. Rumor is they heard our new spring collection is now available online at xxx – KC.’ Unsurprisingly the tweet didn’t go down very well and Cole was criticized for not only the insensitive tweet but also hijacking the ‘Cairo hashtag which had been helping Twitter users track the latest news from Egypt.
So now we’ve gone through a few examples of what not to do I thought I’d offer a few ideas about how to ensure you manage a pro-active and successful Twitter account:
- Ensure that you are connecting with the right audience. For big brands Twitter is a fantastic tool for attracting a worldwide audience but for all those smaller companies the key is quality not necessarily quantity. Connect with the right people and your message will be stronger and more effective.
- Don’t automat it. If you connect all your social media platforms so that when you post a blog, you tweet, when you post a Facebook status you tweet etc it may seem time-effective but could result in a loss of followers. Your business’s Twitter account should talk like a person, even if it’s a collective ‘person’ representing your company. Twitter is a social networking site and therefore encourages conversation and interaction – this is the best way of engaging with your audience.
- Following on from my last point – always try and respond to your mentions. People will see your company’s twitter as a person and so in order to build relationships you should always reply where relevant. This will give your account more personality and help your followers to feel engaged directly with the brand.
- Tweet strategically. Try to ensure your tweets are informative, useful or funny and try timing your valuable tweets during the times that people are most likely to see them.
- Finally, accidents can happen so make sure you have a good crisis communication plan in place as perfectly demonstrated by The Red Cross recently. After a rogue tweet about #gettingslizzard was posted on the official account, Red Cross showed grace under pressure. They used humor to apologise to their followers and acknowledged that a human error was made.