June 07, 2009

Question from the audience: should large corporations be twittering?

Someone asked on the DigitalEve list "Should big companies be twittering?" Summary of my response below.

1. Is it a good idea - in a nutshell, yes. But there are numerous things you must take into account. More on that later

2. Are others doing it - oh yes. Mostly from B2C, but lately I've seen lots of B2Bs doing this as well.
This is happening at various levels
- corporate (from the smallest startup to large corporations, here's a find a partial list
- Divisional (e.g. HP IPG division communiques)
- product support (e.g. Comcast, the cable company)
- execs from company tweeting (e.g. Jeff Hayzlett, CMO, Kodak)

3. How about Israel? There are several Israeli companies & organizations tweeting as well, from IBM development in Israel to many B2Cs (and I think I should mention the TLV police as an example of very creative tweeting as well)

4. Are there any downsides? Risks?
Obviously. Before you propose this to the right people in the organization, be prepared to answer the following.

  • You need to understand who's tweeting, and why. Do you want to share exclusive offers on the web (e.g. JetBlue?) Do you want to increase your presence online, share PRs, gain feedback? Solve problems? Monitor what users are saying? Set an agenda? Influence? Experiment?
  • And as obvious as it sounds, for publicly traded companies, there are numerous non-disclosure regulations you/anyone who's tweeting on behalf of the company must obey. There's no reason why SEC cease to apply in social media.
  • You need resources. Sure, setting up a twitter account is free. But to do it properly, you must have a startegy. Invest time and effort to get to know your environment, set a presence, monitor it, and most of all, maintain a relevant presence in twitter. There are also the technical issues, like doing a a little bit of branding, especially around background you use, and training relevant users in your company.
  • My expertise is in competitive intelligence, so obviously I'm interested in Twitter as a source of info . From many perspectives, there's lots to be gained by your company -and your competitors - from the interactions on this medium. What you say, what you don't say, who follows - it's much more complex than it seems at first glance.

The beauty of Twitter is that we're all still experimenting ( Done sensibly, there's much companies can gain. But keep in mind that it's not a spur of the moment thing - it must be aligned to avoid the pitfalls above.

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