So… the lessons from the IBM Marketing Matters event for local charities continue now (sorry for the delay to anyone who’s been waiting for this with bated breath).
To quote that BBC programme I’ve rather enjoyed lately – “The Honourable Woman” – who do you trust? We do entrust (some of) our staff to talk to customers on the phone so why shouldn’t we trust them to tweet with them too? It does depend on what you want to do of course. You can have a twitter account for your organisation, and use that just to market to people with news of your events, fundraisers, products, and so on. But it’s becoming clear that a twitter account that engages not just projects has more appeal. It may feel like a risk, but it does add a human element, and can make you more approachable. So, if someone asks you a question, or makes a comment about you on twitter it really is a good thing to reply with help or a comment or an opinion.
Going back to the risk element, it’s a good idea to have a set of policies or guidelines that such staff are trained in. Way back when social media was starting to become popular – and before even I was on twitter – a group of IBMers took it upon themselves to create the IBM Social Computing Guidelines and these have become de facto in our organisation. We’re all encouraged to use them, but anyone who is going to speak on behalf of IBM absolutely must stick by them, and we include that in the twitter bios for those accounts. We always say, too, if you’re not sure how to respond to something, ask someone you trust (perhaps even a legal person) for some guidance. I believe a quick reaction is always best, but far better a considered tweet which takes longer to send than a quick tweet, which will get you into a little bother in some way. These guidelines apply to all social media; I happen to have talked more about Twitter here, but they apply to LinkedIn, Facebook, and many others you may choose to use.
Every employee can be a salesperson. That is, I don’t tweet on behalf of IBM but I do choose to tweet about some of the more interesting things we do, some of our recent announcements, especially in the social business (not just social media) space. And there are thousands of IBMers who do the same. So, it can be useful to have your staff discuss your organisation in social media from a personal perspective too. As I mentioned above, it’s perhaps worth asking them to follow some guidelines too. Just in case I do say something I haven’t exactly thought through, I make it clear in my Twitter bio that my opinions are mine, not IBM’s. I should really change that, because sometimes I’m retweeting someone else’s opinion, which I may find interesting but may not share with them. <Mental note: add to to do list.>
Work Life Balance? Firstly, from an organisational perspective, I’m going to go back to saying that in some channels – certainly Twitter – it can be useful to bring the human element to your interactions. @HotChocoTrust was one of the attendees at our Marketing Matters workshop and I think the bio they crafted on the day is great.
When it comes to tweeting as an individual, rather than on behalf of an organisation, I choose to mix work and pleasure in one twitter account because I think that makes me more human, and I prefer to follow others who do the same, but it’s not absolutely necessary. In LinkedIn I’m far more likely to post about work-related things and to connect with people with whom I have some work experience. I keep Facebook for people who really are friends so those updates are usually more personal in nature. For me Twitter combines the two (but with half an eye on making sure I don’t embarrass myself*). This is not the rule by which you must stick, but I want to make it clear that is perfectly acceptable, probably even encouraged, to do this.
And there’s more. Looking back at the day,there were lots of things I didn’t tweet about, such as having a plan for which social media channels to use, a strategy for who and how to engage using them, using tools such as Tweetdeck or Hootsuite to manage your channels from one place, and monitor interactions.
As you become more mature in the use of social media there’s always the possibility of applying analytics to social media to get some actionable insight. But that’s a blog post for another day.
* Many years ago I used Twitter to complain about someone who was an hour and a half late to a meeting – his own meeting. Several in the audience had managed to travel from Scotland to London and to be there on time, but he was coming from 10 minutes along the road. I then followed the chap on Twitter. This meant I drew his attention to my account, and to what I’d been saying. We got an apology, which was nice, but it really wasn’t the cleverest thing I’d ever done.