Rachel Spencer, Senior PR Account Manager
Last week, Twitter turned seven. In its young life, the social media site has amassed more than 200 million users. When I turned seven, I’m pretty sure I only knew about 30 people, tops.
Twitter has had a dramatic influence on the ways we communicate with each other – both in HOW we say what we want to say (sometimes it’s HARD to stick to 140 characters!) and also with whom we are able to connect. The tool has made it possible to connect directly with politicians, celebrities, even the Pope, and feel like we have a personal relationship. We can engage in quick dialogue with someone in Japan without blinking an eye and we have, almost literally, an instantaneous feed of what’s happening in the world around us (albeit always a little bit tainted by personal opinion.)
So, in the spirit of Twitter’s 7th anniversary and its influence on the world, here are seven key communications lessons we’ve learned:
- Roll with the punches – When a Red Cross employee accidentally tweeted “Ryan found two more 4 bottle packs of Dogfish Head’s Midas Touch beer…when we drink we do it right #gettngslizzerd” from the corporate account instead of her personal account, it could have been a recipe for disaster. But, the Red Cross just rolled with the punches sending out a follow-up tweet saying “We’ve deleted the rogue tweet but rest assured the Red Cross is sober and we’ve confiscated the keys.” Simple and civilized, the way the organization chose to handle the potential PR disaster actually ended up spawning a donation drive in the form of a beer-for-blood campaign. Give a pint, get a pint.
- Think before you tweet – Just because its trending doesn’t mean you need to jump on the bandwagon. Take a cue from Entenmann’s, which learned this the hard way by “hashjacking” #notguilty which the Twittersphere was using to express displeasure over the Casey Anthony verdict. Somehow, I don’t think people were thinking about donuts and Little Bites that day, nor did they want to be. The tweet came off as out of touch and insensitive.
- Do your research – In similar fashion, before you decide to use a hashtag you think you’re creating yourself, make sure it’s not being used elsewhere first. Case in point – Lake Erie Shores & Islands used the hashtag #Sandusky to promote a popular Ohio vacation spot. If they’d done their research first, someone probably would have noticed that hashtag directing people instead to conversations about the Jerry Sandusky trial. Probably not something Ohio tourism was hoping to associate themselves with.
- Seek out others – It’s not enough to simply post a tweet, no matter how witty and interesting, and expect people to magically find it. Twitter is about interaction and conversation. Seek out others who are already discussing a topic you want to chime in on, and join the conversation. Don’t assume that your customers or industry peers are searching for you, best to be proactive.
- Speak in the moment – Log on to Twitter and scroll down. How long until you find something that was posted yesterday? Or even 3 hours ago? Twitter is all about what’s happening NOW. If it happened last week, don’t bother unless it can be applied to something happening in the moment and when you do post – write it so it lasts.
- Tread carefully with sponsored content – I’m not saying that sponsored tweets don’t have their place, but it seems to me to contradict the very nature of Twitter. It’s about conversation, relationships and engagement. Promoted tweets seem to lose some of that personal connection.
- Have a strategy – Make sure Twitter is the place you NEED to be (are your customers there or are they talking elsewhere?) and ensure you have a plan for consistently putting out relevant content that speaks to your audience. One of the quickest ways to fail is to go in without a plan and expecting results.
So tweet on, Twitterverse. Here’s to another seven years!