A bird in the hand… the importance of approaching Twitter with caution.

Twitter Collage

A business must embrace social media if it is to maximise its engagement with customers and develop brand awareness. A company’s status will decline if its online presence can’t be seen. Without social media you’ll undoubtedly fall behind your competitors and amongst the available armoury Twitter can be used to provide real benefits. But beware; it can be a double edged sword. Here’s how to wield it carefully!

What does your brand represent?

Know exactly how the market already sees your company and use this as a basis to build upon. The content you exhibit through online media can enlighten your customers and develop their opinion of you. However, the bigger your business the slower the steps you need to take to change public opinion. If your company has a prominent public profile, then maintain an element of corporate confidentiality in your discussions. J.P Morgan found this out the hard way as they exposed their company with #AskJPM:

The negative sentiment as captured below made up over 2/3rd of the responses to #AskJPM:

Never let your guard down.

Address any incoming concerns immediately. Leaving any messages on your Twitter feed unattended will suggest your company doesn’t have a policy or perhaps just simply doesn’t care. Respond to any messages with individuality and compassion or, depending on your brand positioning and the particular situation, even humour and it will help rid any such concerns.

Many hashtags have been hi-jacked by negative comments but having a team standing by ready to respond and revitalize said hashtag with a new positive dynamic can shift opinion. Bank of America found this out the hard way, when bad comments started to trend after a customer was mistakenly chased out of a branch by police, their social media response lazily included the same irrelevant message to every person, regardless of their individual concerns. Afterwards they made a statement maintaining that their account was in fact run by a real person – but where’s the proof?

Be Reactive

Be aware of every-day conversation. Determine the significant news which everyone is talking about today and investigate if there is a marketing opportunity within it all for your brand.  There is, however, a very small time frame in which you can push reactive marketing, so you will need to be agile, innovative and concise. The most well-known reactive tweet was by Oreo during a Super Bowl game when the power was temporarily shut off. (Read more about Tactical Marketing in our blog)

But be warned - a message must be witty and humorous in order to really capitalize on an event. A pitiful attempt to join in a conversation combined with overt commercialism will fall on deaf ears (or blind tweeters). If there is a tragic or sad event, a genuine mournful post may be acceptable but perhaps it is better to say nothing at all, as consumers will not respond well to a company capitalizing on a tragedy. Epicurious found out the hard way after trying to relate their whole-grain cranberry scones to the heart-breaking Boston bombings:

Watching your words isn't just something businesses need to worry about, individuals have to as well. If you’re sat in at night and your partner’s not listening to you, turning to the internet to validate your thoughts might not be the answer unless you know that your facts, grammar and spelling are correct. You might think your tweet is going to your small group of friends and followers but who knows how loud your voice might be?

Within minutes your message could travel to more people than could fill a football stadium, as Blackpool resident Gemma Worrall found out the hard way when she confused the President of the United States with our own leader and an effervescent vitamin tablet. Her message achieved over 100,000 potential impressions and earned her a negative Daily Mail article within hours. So whatever you do, don’t find out the hard way and think-twice before you press that tweet button.