Aside from my personal tweeting, I am the resident Tweeter at my place of work. (Sounds a bit DJ’ish huh? – its not.) Work tweeting and personal tweeting are polar opposites – apart from my outgoing, funny, friendly persona seeping into my work tweets (naturalement). And yes, using Tweetdeck has *almost* landed me in deep trouble a couple of times. *cringes*
I tweet for a professional service business (not a euphemism) and of course I have set myself some guidelines, or rules if you wish.
- Nothing confidential
- Nothing political or controversial
- Nothing that you wouldn’t show or tell a Senior Partner (the one with the most austere personality)
- Nothing x-rated, no swear words
- Nothing anti the business we’re in
- Nothing overly pushy or blatantly selling
Now, nothing earth shattering there? Common sense? You’d think.
We have over 900 followers on our work twitter account, and an enviable set of lists for different areas of our business, that are followed by a large number of specialists in their own fields. I also follow around 1000 twitter accounts. These accounts are my own information stream at the flick of a screen, breaking headlines, industry updates, changes in law, etc. This saves me a huge amount of time, previously I would be checking around about 15-20 different websites on and off, throughout the day.
What has twitter done for our business?
- Above all it’s raised our profile and brand name in the towns we have offices in
- We connect with a lot more local businesses and people than we have ever done before
- We have managed to change peoples perception of us as a profession
- It had gained us new and returning business – more opportunities have become open to us from it
- We have connected nationally and internationally with business peers that we are able to learn from and share ideas with
- We have saved money on sourcing new suppliers through it
I wax lyrical about business tweeting. BUT. Doing twitter ‘wrong’ as a business is worse than not doing it at all. Sometimes I am disappointed that someone/business is not on twitter, when I want to give feedback or ask them something (why is everyone not doing it!?) but also I am dismayed by businesses that ‘give it a go’ and unintentionally get it wrong. I am aware that this sounds like I know it all, but I just get frustrated when businesses seemingly miss the point, or have not taken time to learn or research its use. For larger companies it’s almost a vital customer service tool in the digital age – you see immediately what people are saying about you, you can engage and you can remedy problems.
I describe tweeting for business as a ‘spoke in the wheel’ of your marketing or networking. It’s just an additional, add-on. It’s not the answer, the be-all or a must-do. Do it as you would network in a room full of people. You are gaining connections, building relationships and giving as much (if not more) than taking.
Down to the 8 things I hate about business tweeting (and may I add that these are in no way shared by a lot of the social media guru’s, these are my own opinions and rile me and not necessarily everyone else!)
- Automated Follow Messages – yeah, I know, it’s polite and professional to thank people for their follow. But this faceless ‘Hi! Thanks for following me! Here’s a link to our business – it’s all about US!’ automated spammy response makes my finger itch over the ‘unfollow’ button. And they can be really corny to… ‘If you need advice about Twitter – give me a call!’ ‘Thanks for the follow, you can also follow me/like us on FB’ ? SOme have even been an out-and-out business plug. WRONG. I think that each automated response is awful. The equivalent of being force-fed a business card when you have just said ‘hello’ over a tepid orange juice. Now – please note, I can tell a hand crafted DM a mile off. They warm my heart, they make me respond. I start off liking this person/tweeter. A lot.
- Advert Tweets – I don’t mean sharing blogs, links and services that are interesting or informative to others (in moderation) I mean the endless stream of ‘House for sale in High Street *link*’ ‘House for sale in Broad Street *link*’ ‘We can sell your house quicker and cheaper than all the rest’ ‘Call us to come and valuate your house! Today!’ You get the jist? As others have blogged about before – share some information, give some freemium info and get people appreciate the stuff you share with them. The examples should have read ‘Wow, we have been busy this morning – must put the kettle on…’ ’10 tips to get your house sold’ ‘Morning everyone, did you see this funny cartoon?’ – lame but I think you get the idea.
- Personal Contact Free Timelines – I look at the timeline of an account before I follow, when I am met with a list as long as my arm of tweets with not one @ (i.e. no conversation with another tweeter) I’m turned off. I don’t want to just listen to someone endlessly, I want to engage and ‘overhear’ their engagement with others. Sorry, but I’m funny like that.
- Follow Floggers – ‘Learn how to gain 5 million followers’ or ‘Get a lot more followers – check out this site’- No thanks, twitter is not a numbers game. Grow your followers organically, what’s the point in 5000 people you don’t engage with or get anything from? I’m probably not right but this sounds like spam shopping to me.
- Overtly Political – maybe I’m just old-fashioned, but religion and political rants and bitching really makes me want to ignore. Keep it for the personal.
- News but no link? A couple of news agencies will tweet a headline with no article link (deliberately) – grrr. Thanks then. I got interested. You let me down. Substantiate your tweet goddamnit!
- Waiting for followers – those who bemoan ‘it’s not working’ thinking that a tweet will bring followers flocking. You have to follow the right people, jump in, engage, promote people. You don’t turn up at a networking event, talk to yourself and wait for people to listen do you?
- Mr Dull and Boring – I don’t want to read everything about your life, but some personality, humour and wit are winners for me. People like people. They also like freebies and good deals, but on the whole, when I want something, I know who I will refer – the guy that I have had a conversation with. I have re read my work tweets and I often post things that are (by my standards) a bit dull…. although it has opened conversation with others, but I am wary of being too inane!
And just so you know, I’m not the greatest business tweeter, I know that. I know I have been guilty of some of the above in the past. But I’m trying to be a better business tweeter. I am.