Corporate Twitter Accounts and Online Reputation

12 November 2008

As with blogs that went before, the question of whether companies should use “corporate” Twitter accounts still polarises opinion. There are those who believe that “social” media should be exactly that, and others who think it is fine for companies to use any channel as a marketing channel.

This polarisation generally results in criticism rather than praise, as the former is much easier to do. The only corporate uses of Twitter that have been widely praised so far are when consumer-facing companies use it for proactive customer service (i.e. monitoring for mention of product issues and making contact in order to help solve the problem), and even those have also been criticised.

Within this context, the concern of anyone charged with promoting and protecting a company’s online reputation globally should be to minimise any critcism which could damage the brand as a result of using social media in this way. The first question to ask therefore is not whether to do it, but how. If you’re considering creating a corporate Twitter account to promote your company, ask yourself these questions first:

  • Should there be a dedicated Twitterer, a group of people, a rota?
  • Who decides what is appropriate/relevant?
  • How can you ensure regional/functional parity, given that Twitter is global?
  • If you already have a cohort of active Twitterers, why not just aggregate their tweets?
  • Should the corporate account follow other Twitterers or not?
  • What happens when a corporate Twitterer leaves the company – how do you protect the account?
  • How do you respond to tweets that ask questions you don’t want to – or can’t – answer?
  • Are other social media more appropriate for what you want to do?
  • Can you make an anonymous corporate account authentic, personal, spontaneous and natural?
  • Will anyone want to follow your corporate Twitter profile (search for your company/brand name at http://search.twitter.com to see the kinds of people who might want to tweet you)?

If you don’t have good answers to all these questions within 24 hours, I’d recommend you steer clear of using a corporate Twitter account for the time being.

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4 Responses to “Corporate Twitter Accounts and Online Reputation”

  1. Scott Brinker

    Niall — these are excellent questions! Great post. This is the aspect of social media marketing that I find most fascinating: how can companies authentically participate — and scale their participation without violating that authenticity — in the social media sphere? Answering these questions is a good start.

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