Friday, July 10, 2009

So You Went and Set-Up a Corporate Twitter Account

When I was 11, I decided with a friend of mine one Saturday morning that I wanted to have pierced ears. I was supposed to wait until I was 12, at which point, my mother and I were going to make a special day of the event. As a rite of passage, this was particularly important to my mother, yet in the spur-of-the-moment, often impatient "must-have-it-now" mood that has driven many of my decisions throughout life, my friend and I jumped on our bikes, rode to a strip mall beauty parlor and proceeded to bring our ears into adolescence. In keeping with my mother's hallmark graciousness and ability to flexibly accommodate my often challenging rush through adolescence, rather than insisting that the studs come out and that I wait for our special day, she let the earrings remain and I have since had a 30 + history of branding myself with a variety of statements hanging from my lobes.

In the mad rush to participate in the social media and networking universe and not be left looking like an 11-year old in a world full of teenagers, many of us are creating and implementing a corporate presence prematurely, despite advice to the contrary. As a number of my posts have suggested, the pitfalls of launching a social media profile without a strategy are numerous and the depth and breadth of the community that is immediately aware of our launch can mean that a tentative approach to participation is akin to throwing raw meat in the lion cage. In an attempt to channel the grace and ability to roll with the adolescent punches demeanor of my mother, rather than post some "I told you so's", I want to offer suggestions for making sure that your premature toe-dipping may lend itself to a more robust, sustainable engagement in the SMN conversation. So, to all of you who have jumped on the Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, blog, etc. bandwagon without waiting for our "special" moment of carefully planned profile, content and infrastructure decisions, here is your first set of earrings:

  1. We Know You're There: It is quite likely that as soon as you have created a Twitter, Facebook or other profile that includes your company name or any information about you, that some customers who have been waiting for you are going to know about it . (Your competitors will definitely know about it!) Even the most rudimentary search engines and crawls are set-up to immediately alert your communities of interest when you have joined the conversation. Just as it was difficult to hide my newly pierced ears until the "right" moment, as soon as a Twitter account is implemented, add-on modules are designed to find it.
  2. Say Something: Because our digital presence is increasingly obvious and discoverable, it is critical that as soon as you create a profile that you begin to do something with it. Whether the long term strategy for social media participation ends up being passive or not, posting a static account with a basic bio in it is counter to the dynamic of social media and networking ethos all together. Your customer and prospects may run across your profile one time and bookmark or create an alert for it, but if you don't begin even a minimum level of posting, or content refreshment, they will quickly delete you from their search and their interest. The virtual ear holes will close up unless they are rotated, changed, and noticeable.
  3. Ask/Disclose: Take a proactive approach to engaging your current client base or community of interest. You've gone ahead and established your presence, rather than waiting for people to discover you (and they will) and then responding blankly when they ask what your intentions with the profile are, take the high-ground and query your established communities for what will engage them in conversation with you in these areas. My earlier posts suggest that participation in these environments provides a rich opportunity for us to break-free of our collateral ruts and respond to new and different communities of interest and information needs. One way of "masking" a too premature leap into the conversation might be to try something completely transparent and invite our current clients and prospects to provide suggestions and (gasp) content to us! In other words, take out the diamond studs and offer to let others design your new look.
  4. Don't Be Shy: This may be repetitive, but remember, particularly in the case of Twitter, this is a CONVERSATION not a BOOK. Post questions, brief comments, ideas, "coming-soon's", etc. Get engaged in the conversation: as quickly as a negative Tweet will be passed around, honest and credible, if somewhat immaturely formulated Tweets and post will be forgiven as long as you are participating in the dialogue. What will be noted and dismissed (and discussed) is a too heavy-handed, formal marketing approach to your participation. The backlash that the thousands of sales appeals on Twitter have begun to experience should be a lesson to those thinking that a Tweet that just directs people to a lead gen page or a sales pitch is going to be enough.

The Newbie Twitter Challenge

Rather than continue to opine at the 50,000 foot level about things to do when you have set up a social media and networking presence sans a comprehensive strategy, I thought I'd issue a challenge that contemplates that four tactics outlined above. As long as you've gone and set up a profile, I challenge you to at least minimally engage your potential listeners and conversational participants by doing the following……TODAY

  • Search for and find a negative/positive Tweet (blog comment, article, etc.) and ReTweet it (post it, etc.) and ask for comment or respond.
  • Tweet the question: What would you like to see here?
  • Identify someone (anyone) in your organization who has responsibility for at minimum, monitoring the social media and networking communities in which you have chosen to participate. Not listening to the dialogue when you don't have a presence is unfortunate enough, but putting yourself out there without any mechanism for responding to the conversation is extremely dangerous!



No comments:

Post a Comment