If the road to hell is paved with good intentions, then the road to Twitter hell is paved with bad practices. In virtually every “Twitter storm” against a company, the business has ignored best practice on tone, application, reaction or general decency.
But how do you avoid these pitfalls? How do you find a tone that suits? And, most importantly, how do you stop a small fire becoming a full-on blaze?
This is such basic advice that in 2017, it seems hard to believe that it has to be reiterated, but here goes: your social accounts need to be manned by a person who is capable.
You don’t hire your unqualified nephew to handle your finances or your IT infrastructure, why would you hire them to manage the day-to-day perception and customer relationship management of your business?Having the right person isn’t simply hiring well. Your business should draft a set of social media guidelines for use of the company accounts.
Who has access to your Twitter account? Do they have access on their mobile phones? Are they likely to leave the phone somewhere or tweet from the company account?
It is important from the get-go that businesses understand two things about Twitter.
Firstly, you cannot control the nature or tenor of a Twitter conversation and secondly, Twitter users are usually wary of businesses joining conversations.
To that end, it is vital that you deliver content that is regular, consistent, and relevant. Twitter users who follow your account will expect you to post – otherwise they will unfollow you. When you do post, they expect to see content that is about your product or industry and that makes following the account of value. Can you make an offer available through a Twitter link or post a how-to video for your product?
Establish the brand’s identity, but ensure that those who tweet from the account are aware that they speak as the brand. An almost complete ban on the word I should be implemented. This allows the brand’s voice be consistent regardless of who is manning the account and makes the customer connection more intimate. Revealing that there is a person behind the account is similar showing the customer that the Wizard of Oz was just a man behind a curtain.
Create a publishing calendar, schedule tweets and don’t be afraid to repost evergreen content .
If your business deals heavily with customer queries, establish a secondary Twitter account to handle customer support. Real time feedback to and from customers is a massive advantage of the platform, but if can also make your main page look cluttered.
Your main account is your brand’s home, its story. Do not confuse that message.
You want your Twitter account to push the brand message, sell the product and create consumer loyalty, but you can’t just expect that to work.
Twitter users don’t enjoy their feed being spammed with “look how great we are” messages – they expect value and they expect an account to be useful.
That can mean that following you gets them anything from alerted to deals, the chance to win a prize or simply the opportunity to gain an insight into your company.
Companies who can produce videos on how to get the most from their products will often post snippets to Twitter. This makes sense for a number of reasons – the snippet is shareable, it leads followers to the company website and makes followers happy.
Another way to keep followers from feeling short-changed is to mix up the content of your feed by retweeting posts from users of your products.
This is especially useful if an influencer in your field has tweeted something positive of you. However, don’t overdo it. A good rule is that retweets should make up no more than 15-20% of your overall content.
Twitter is a medium that rewards visuals, so take advantage of that.
Attach pictures – but only those that you have the right to use – to as many tweets as possible to stand out encourage clickthroughs and drive sharing.
But remember that pictures are just one part of the visual element of Twitter. Interesting graphics or statistics can be retweeted hundreds and thousands of times, so take some time to craft them.
Using Twitter videos can help a company essentially put across 30-50 seconds of advertising to thousands of people for free – if the video is done well.
Now for the scary part.
Twitter can be an unforgiving place for brands and businesses, especially ones who have made a mistake.
In times like this, it is vital that the Twitter account becomes the frontline in damage control because it will be the frontline of damage reputation.
Ensure that a statement or apology is posted and made the account’s pinned tweet.
From there, ensure that those handling the account know not to engage with anyone who is overly abusive or critical. However, do deal honestly and contritely with genuinely aggrieved customers. Direct them to your website or your support account or take the conversation to direct messages.
Once out of the public eye, the conversation tends to be more measured and more reasoned and situations can be diffused.
Do not fall into the trap of trying to explain or justify a mistake on Twitter – any misplaced word or misunderstood sentiment will be pounced upon and magnified.
If you need to apologise, do that and move on.
At the same time, don’t be afraid to block or mute people who are engaged in particularly abusive behaviour, especially those who do so with anonymous accounts. Allow your staff the freedom to block and report those people and it will make handling your Twitter account a much more pleasant experience.
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