In June this year I was asked to write a commentary about the use of Twitter in organizational communications for Cardiff News*, Cardiff University’s official newsletter. The article published is reproduced here.
@drkellypage the power of #personality on #twitter
With the growth of the digital technologies such as Twitter, organizations are increasingly adopting corporate and employee Twitter accounts. Seen as an alternative channel to the corporate website or customer call line Twitter is often mistakenly used to only push press releases, company news and customer service information into the ether in a wild attempt to build a twitter network. However, the social web is not about a traditional one-way mode corporate communications, it is about conversation, participation and social brand equity. It is about engaging with the communities within which your organization coexists.
Twitter accounts are managed and used by people (or persons) and it is these individuals that give a Twitter handle (e.g., @drkellypage) their personal conversational tone and personality. People follow, friend and connect to people, not press releases or automated twitter services. It is this personality and digital social skill that make for the best twitter accounts to follow. It is how an individual uses tone and their own voice to converse, that is to Tweet, Reply, Retweet (RT) and direct message (DM) that grows followers and friends and gets your Twitter handle listed. Importantly, it is also the mindset an individual managing a Twitter account and their organization have in how they approach the notion of conversation and sharing with and about others not just themselves, that helps build sustainable and sticky social networks.
Individual personality is important, so to in corporate contexts is the need to be professional and responsible with regard to what, whom and in what way we Tweet. Twitter is a public space indexed by Google, searchable and retrievable by Twitter. In this anything you Tweet can be RT by others and cited in other channel contexts. For those considering or currently managing either their own individual or a corporate Twitter account, I’ve listed a number of elements important to consider for the development of healthy, social and sustainable Twitter networks
Twitter is about listening, sharing and conversing with others, not shouting or promoting. Think – listen & share with others don’t think talk & tell to others. Listening is important. You don’t have to tweet all the time, a RT is a good way to ease yourself into the conversation and slowly build your Twitter network.
You can either adopt a mind cast, life cast or combination approach to Twitter (and the social web). Life casting is more personal about what ‘you’ are doing (e.g., getting the train, having a coffee). Mind casting is a more professional tone associated with what you are doing, thinking and believing associated with your professional activities (e.g., Launching our new brand design today). As people follow people often a combination is more often better to develop social bonds within a social network (e.g., had a great meeting with Simon about the new branding design today).
Develop your own tone and voice in synergy with the organizations values. But be your professional self. Be approachable and friendly. Consider ‘would I say or share this to one or a room full of people’ on behalf or in association with the organization.
Use direct messages (DM) for private, sensitive information such as phone numbers, email address and time/location for meet ups. Remember Twitter is Google indexed.
Remember not everyone is on Twitter or even knows what it is, let alone how to use it. So although corporate partners might use it, individuals in the wider community might not. So don’t default to Twitter as your main point of contact. Twitter, email and office number are the best contact options to be accessible to all.
Twitter is not just about external communications, it is also a useful channel to find out what else is going on in other parts of your organization. Follow other employees and departments in your organization.
Think about whom you would like to follow in terms of what conversations you want to be part of, learn about or think you should be involved with. Start by looking at your email address book and the professional association or organization partners in your industry.
Lists a useful ways to organize who you are following into meaningful categories. It makes sifting through the large volume of tweets you receive. Developing lists of key people, organizations or association in your industry of interest to you, your organization and to share with your followers.
#hashtags are a useful way to categorise a stream of tweets about a specific topic. The more often a specific #hashtag is used the more popular or ‘trendy’ the topic. #hastags are also used around events to organize tweets from the event into one search stream.
Twitter is a not about short-term gain through campaign-led communications approach. It is about ongoing development and growth through dialogue. Take your time to developing a few Twitter habits, these are important for sustained activity. For example, when, where and for how long you use it a day? Which platform you most like to use to manage your account (e.g., Tweetdeck)?
Most importantly, be real and use your best judgment in what, how and to whom you converse.
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