Tweeting is a mysterious world, and companies of all sizes are right to be cautious as they decide their strategy. Who’s the right person to tweet? What can or can’t they say? How does one deal with negative @ mentions and when should the conversation be taken offline? These are all things to be decided internally, perhaps bringing in a specialist to help demystify, and in many cases there is no right or wrong: we are all still feeling our way with this exciting and powerful new technology area.
It has been great to see broader social media adoption at drupa. YouTube has been particularly strong, with many companies engaging with film-makers to capture the sense of what they’ve tried to communicate at the show to the outside world. And Twitter has been a thoroughly jovial place these past days, enabling people to connect in a totally different way, providing a wholly new (and often very amusing) experience of the show’s incredible zeitgeist.
But there are still some mistakes being made: no names, no pack drill, but I hope that some blunt pointers will help companies make their feeds richer for the tweeters in their ecosystems – and also easier for their employees. I’ll also try and link them to some examples in the real world that would frustrate you equally.
Don’t tweet the same message from multiple accounts. I know TweetDeck and HootSuite are handy tools, great for visualising Twitter and incredibly useful when you take your first steps. But in Twitter terms it’s just amateurish. Analogy: having four sales people trying to get you to buy the same product, all talking at the same time. It’s deafening.
Don’t retweet your own messages without good reason. There are perfectly legitimate reasons to run multiple Twitter accounts – different product lines or business groups, for example – but RTing each other all the time means you lose the distinction between them. Analogy: having someone tell you the same thing over and over again when you heard it the first time.
Don’t love yourself. “OMG! I’m from company X – I just love our Y range so much, plus all its Z products! Yay! #IloveX” Nay. Analogy: when was the last time you met someone who could only talk about themselves and how great they are? I bet you made an excuse to leave as quickly as possible. Find other interesting things to say that aren’t just about you, your products and services, and your company. You would be more subtle in your other marketing activities, so don’t take the hammer approach on Twitter either.
Don’t create unnecessary hashtags. This one is a greyer area. If you are going for concept marketing then yes, there may be a value in creating a new hashtag. But look carefully at who you want to use it and what its purpose is. If you are hoping to track who within your company or customer base is tweeting around an event, that’s great, and it could help you afterwards with your metrics. But trying to force a pointless hashtag on people around you makes you look a bit desperate – plus it takes up unnecessary room in your tweet. Stick to common ground (for example, #drupa) and you will also enjoy greater visibility. Analogy: someone trying to stick a label on your suit when you’re not sold on the brand and it doesn’t fit your image.
Those are the cardinal sins, in my humble opinion. If you can eliminate them, you will appeal to a broader user base, reach more prospects outside your current customer reach, have a cleaner feed that more people will subscribe to, and earn the respect of your followers. You’ll also get more retweets and your message will carry further. And yes, you can get your corporate messaging in there too – but that, I’m afraid, you’re going to have to work out for yourself.
James Matthews-Paul is publisher of Output, http://www.outputmagazine.com/, which offers news, technical features, blogs, videos and product profiles on the graphic arts and visual communications sector. You can find him tweeting at @signanddisplay, or you can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.