There is more than one right answer to the question of how to build a great Twitter strategy.
However, everyone agrees you must carefully manage your account, known as the handle in twitter-speak, as the first step to build your Twitter program. So, how many people can tweet on behalf of your brand or organization?
You may not have an Alec Baldwin complaining about your organization at the moment, but right now, in most of your waiting rooms, you patients on their smartphones to pass the time. Those patients are tweeting about their experiences with your practice or hospital -- both good and bad.
Your first step is to determine who is listening, and then decide who is responding. Via the Wall Street Journal, here is a helpful article about how three companies have done a great job building their online strategies with different approaches. You need to figure out what works for your organization.
Southwest Airlines has 10 people that can tweet on their behalf @SouthwestAir. They have great guidelines and know how to talk to each other. There are so many travelers tweeting (just like there are so many patient families), that they have spread the work around withing their organization.
Whole Foods, on the other hand, has just one person, Mr. Michael Bepko, who manages everything. Mr. Bepko is called a Community Manager and spends most of his day on Twitter conversing and sharing with the people mentioning @WholeFoods.
Best Buy is extremely different, in that they use any interested employee as part of their army of community managers. They have lots of handles such as @BestBuy, @BestBuy_Deals, @BBYNews, @GeekSquad, and the help line @Twelpforce.
To be part of @Twelpforce and other social-media outlets, Best Buy requires employees to enroll via a website that verifies their employment status and explains terms and conditions. The company uses an internal video and its publicly available social media policy, which prohibits such things as sharing nonpublic financial data and customers' personal information, to explain what it calls its "healthy usage guidelines" to the @Twelpforce participants.
So, now I turn it over to you. How are you ensuring that your Twitter management is being properly handled? We'd love to hear your thoughts on what works for you.