Sunday, April 28, 2013

How Corporations Can Avoid Twitter Failures

Disaster strikes corporate Twitter accounts regularly. You’ve all heard the horror stories.  The failures range from major fails like a KitchenAid tweeter sharing an inappropriate comment about President Obama on KitchenAid’s handle instead of her own to more modest issues like a business pushing one-way self-promoting content instead of truly engaging.

The good thing is that you can do things to avoid an episode like one from the “7 Worst Tweets of 2012.” By putting a few social media guardrails in place and heeding some of the advice found in “9 Twitter mistakes to avoid,” you can keep your account on course and avoid failures.

Photo courtesy of stock.xchng
Here are a few things you can do to make your corporate Twitter account fresh AND reduce risks for your organization.

1. Ditch the Jargon – people come on Twitter to find information that’s useful to them and engage with others, not to listen to a bunch of internal corporate speak. Speak in your audience’s language, talk about what’s important to them, use fun themes and keep it simple.

2. Listen While You Work – listening on social media is a great way for you to glean consumer insights.  It’s also important to stay informed about what’s going on to decide what’s appropriate to tweet. This will help you avoid a situation like when the American Rifleman tweeted an upbeat post addressing “shooters” the day of the Aurora, Colo. shootings.  Listen and think before you tweet (and be weary of scheduling tweets too far in advance in case there is a major event that is out of synch with what you plan to tweet).

3. Know Your Limits – many Twitter horror stories come when employees inadvertently tweet something from a corporate account instead of their own personal account or they post something on their own account that reflects poorly upon the brand. It’s important for companies to set boundaries on the business Twitter account, limit the number of employees that have access to it and put a solid social media policy in place that applies to everyone at the company.

From miniscule to monstrous, corporate Twitter failures are reality.  What else has helped you avoid Twitter failure? 

Kristen Lease is a Senior Communications Specialist at GE Capital Fleet Services where she is responsible for employee communications and social media. She is also pursuing her master’s degree in Integrated Marketing Communications at Northwestern University’s Medill School. Follow her at @klease08

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