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Corporate Twitter Accounts and Online Reputation

As with blogs that went before, the question of whether companies should use “corporate” Twitter accounts still polarises opinion. There are those who believe that “social” media should be exactly that, and others who think it is fine for companies to use any channel as a marketing channel.

This polarisation generally results in criticism rather than praise, as the former is much easier to do. The only corporate uses of Twitter that have been widely praised so far are when consumer-facing companies use it for proactive customer service (i.e. monitoring for mention of product issues and making contact in order to help solve the problem), and even those have also been criticised.

Within this context, the concern of anyone charged with promoting and protecting a company's online reputation globally should be to minimise any critcism which could damage the brand as a result of using social media in this way. The first question to ask therefore is not whether to do it, but how. If you're considering creating a corporate Twitter account to promote your company, ask yourself these questions first:

  • Should there be a dedicated Twitterer, a group of people, a rota?
  • Who decides what is appropriate/relevant?
  • How can you ensure regional/functional parity, given that Twitter is global?
  • If you already have a cohort of active Twitterers, why not just aggregate their tweets?
  • Should the corporate account follow other Twitterers or not?
  • What happens when a corporate Twitterer leaves the company - how do you protect the account?
  • How do you respond to tweets that ask questions you don't want to - or can't - answer?
  • Are other social media more appropriate for what you want to do?
  • Can you make an anonymous corporate account authentic, personal, spontaneous and natural?
  • Will anyone want to follow your corporate Twitter profile (search for your company/brand name at http://search.twitter.com to see the kinds of people who might want to tweet you)?

If you don't have good answers to all these questions within 24 hours, I'd recommend you steer clear of using a corporate Twitter account for the time being.


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Join The Conversation

  • Nov 14 Posted 8 years ago lisameltz Hi Niall.  I also think that companies need to start thinking out of the box a bit more and use Twitter as a thought leadership tool.  The tweets I personally like to follow are from people who do a bunch of research (or where their community is doing the research for them) and tweet links and tidbits about that subject matter regularly.  Or from people who are just plain funny.  For example, I feel like the WalMart mommy bloggers would be so much more effective in their tweets if they were aggregating and pushing out news links and parenting observations rather than pushing WalMart sales or tweeting about their Thanksgiving dinners.  Anyway, its all in the strategy just like you say.
  • warrenss's picture
    Nov 13 Posted 8 years ago warrenss Niall, Great questions which should offer proper guidance for companies as they consider Twitter.  I've written before about best practices and have even asked some of the same questions, Twittermaven best practices.
  • Nov 13 Posted 8 years ago AnnalieKillian I think corporate or govt use of twitter needs to observe some protocol when "following" folks.  I arrived home last night to a message that my local government council, @Mosmancouncil is now following me on Twitter.  Now, I am not a paranoid type and really quite out there, but I just found it creepy that a govt body is "following" me without a note or a message of why and no introduction and no identity of the person who is behind the twitter account, or explanation of how they plan to use Twitter.  So, what could have been a great and pleasant communication exercise was a bit weird and alienating.  It really boils down to good manners, introductions and permissions.
  • Nov 12 Posted 8 years ago AngelaConnor I just posted a blog: The Press Release will be Dead in 36 Months. This is something that Peter Shankman said just this afternoon at an event I attended in downtown Raleigh. If this is this case, then the questions you just posted are worth much more than you could possibly imagine and should be answered by many. Shankman maintains that  anyone  who cannot relay their message in 140 characters or less, needs to change that message. And in terms of who twitters, he also said that people know the difference when the CEO blogs vs. when the PR guy is doing it for him.
  • Nov 12 Posted 8 years ago fabilella These are great questions. Twitter is so seductive as a social networking tool and women in business can fall into that trap. But the rules of the road are different for business and your post lights that up for me as a female entrepreneur. Thanks.

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