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5 questions companies should ask before using Twitter

Posted by Danny Whatmough on 5th July 2011

Any social media PR person will be familiar with the feeling when a client or CEO comes to you and says, ‘I think we need to be on Twitter’. The easy answer to this quandary is to set up an account and just start sending out the odd message every now and again. But this doesn’t take full advantage of what the channel can really offer.

Here are five questions that any social media PR, marketer or business should reply with when put in this position. It’s also a useful list for companies that are already on Twitter, but aren’t necessarily convinced by the results they are achieving.

1. What is your objective?

Twitter is such an open platform; there are no clear rules about how an account should be run and what it should be for. From customer service and customer engagement to driving sales and media outreach, Twitter can be used for a vast array of different business tasks. So it’s important to think about which one/s are important to you. And a word of warning, no matter what you think your account is for, your followers will just see your brand on Twitter, so be prepared to be flexible.

2. How will you build the community?

Having an objective and setting up the account is one thing, but if no one is following you then you’ll be just talking in a vacuum. Building the community is therefore an important first step. So, depending on what you decided your key objective was, you need to start publicising your Twitter account to this audience. This could be as simple as including references to your feed on your website, in email signatures or other marketing collateral. Or you might want to run specific campaigns or incentives to encourage people to follow you.

3. What are you going to tweet?

But of course there is no point having a massive community if they aren’t properly engaged and/or interested in what you have to say. They’ll then quickly stop following you and all the hard work will be undone. So think first about your audience and what they will find useful. This could just be speedy answers to customer service enquiries. It could be tips or best practices. Or perhaps it’s discounts and offers that will keep them engaged.

4. Who’s going to manage it?

Deciding who will run and manage your account will again depend on what you are trying to achieve and who your audience is. Does the account sit with social media PR, marketing, comms, customer service or even a mixture of different people inside the business? Many companies will feel slightly nervous about using a channel like Twitter without proper approval processes so make sure this issue is covered off, write guidelines and ensure everyone across the company agrees with the strategy.

5. How will you measure success?

As with all types of marketing and social media PR, if you can’t measure outputs and outcomes, you’ll never know whether it is working. Again, how you measure the success of your Twitter account will be dependent on what you are looking to achieve. It could be responsiveness times for customer service enquiries. You might use analytics tracking codes to see how much traffic is sent back to your website or blog. It might be the number of customer evangelists and advocates you manage to get tweeting about your brand on a regular basis. Agreeing these in advance and then measuring and reviewing them on a regular basis will help you work out whether your strategy is working and if changes need to be made.

picture credit

Danny Whatmough