Communication is the Pulse of Life!

Think Before You Tweet

Think Before You Tweet – Bad News Travels Fast!

If you believe the results of a small survey conducted out of the University of Salford in the UK, more than half of the 298 people polled in the study claimed their lives have changed for the worse since they started using sites like Facebook and Twitter: They feel depressed after comparing their achievements to their friends’, they find it hard to relax and sleep, and despite the apparent negative side effects of social media — feel stressed when they can’t access it.  So what’s all the noise about?

Twittering on the Edge

Over the last ten years, technology has transformed almost every aspect of our lives before we’ve had time to stop and question it. In every home, on every desk, a smartphone in the palm of your hands – this is the world we live in and what our 21st Century existence has become.  Our grip on reality is shifting. We have access to all the information in the world, but no brain space left to absorb anything longer than a 140-character tweet.

When you think about it there isn’t a corner of public discourse left that Twitter does not touch upon these days. Anything goes, it seems. But just how dangerous can the social networking site be, both to you and your business?

There are many incidents of damage done to businesses or reputations caused by careless tweeting. Those who fail to grasp the scope and range of the network often fall foul of the unforgiving community early on. A thoughtless tweet can spread like wildfire in a matter of minutes, and before you know it you are all over the news – and sometimes not it a good way!  The rich and famous, notably celebrities are prone to harsh attacks by trolls on TwitterSphere, and their experience should serve as a warning to every business or individual whose reputation is their livelihood.   And have we not heard enough horror stories of employees posting to the wrong handle?

Twitter has exploded in popularity over the past few years, offering businesses a way to listen to and reach out to their target audiences. While Twitter was built on a platform of simplicity, it’s by no means an easy marketing tool to grasp.  A few misconceptions about how to use Twitter can land your business in a minefield of negativity and bad PR. It is important for us to be aware of the fundamental “rules” of Twitter etiquette before you take the plunge.  In other words, “Think Before You Tweet!”

Here are some tips to help you tread carefully and stay out of trouble.

Listen Carefully and Listen Good

It happens to the best of us, at some networking event or party.  That one idiot who won’t stop talking – even when you try to get a word in, he cuts you off and talks over you.  Think about how annoying, and rude that behaviour is. You don’t want to be “that guy” on Twitter or any social network for that matter. Twitter is a medium where you can push your brand into the open but pushing too hard has its limits and you’re likely to rub people the wrong away.  So rather than push, practise social media listening.  Here’s where you get to identify and assess what is being said about a company, individual, product or brand on social media. It’ll help you to subtly put the right message across to the right audience at the right time.

Engage your Audience

Twitter is a great way to interact with customers.  It tells you what your customers want to know and what you need to know from your customers. Is there a right and wrong way to engage on Twitter?  For starters, in terms of business, your main focus should be on engaging your core target group, not random people. This doesn’t mean you should be rude or ignore others.   Your time should be spent wisely on seeking interactions from those who are likely to seek your services and/or those to whom you have something to offer.

Turn Off the Shame

Most people don’t want to be talked at and that includes your customers!  They want to be treated like people; they want to be listened to; and they want to be presented with solutions that best fit their gap needs. If your Twitter timeline consists of always shouting about how unbelievably fantastic your product is, you’re doing it all wrong.    Do it once, and you may be forgiven, do it twice and you’ll never get through that virtual doorway again!

Break the Monotony

Variety is the spice of life! Sharing links to blog posts is helpful but frequently changing the type of content you tweet is key to keeping your followers invested and engaged. Spice it up with visual content. Graphics, videos and Instagram, for example, can get your tweets noticed quicker and grow your followers.

Hashtag Overload

In Twitterspeake, you have to make sure your message fits within the 140-character limit – enter Hashtags.   Although an effective tool used to filter through tweets, Hashtags have the tendency to be “overdone” – so it’s important to come up with new and exciting ways to implement them.  Use Hashtags sparingly to avoid being viewed as spam.

Give and Receive

Obviously, you’re on Twitter to better connect with your customers, so always take advantage of the opportunity to monitor feedback about your business.  Twitter is interactive and people expect a certain level of communication between themselves and the organizations they follow.  But learn to listen first before you respond. Your brand’s reputation is at risk if you keep the issue in the open for everyone to see.  One misstep can lead to an unnecessary PR disaster.  And don’t ignore the fact that competitors are also lurking around the same target group  – waiting to jump in and offer your “not so happy” customer an alternate solution.

Last word: Twitter has its nuances, but at its heart, the site is like any other social network. Put in time and effort—both with what you share and say, and with whom you connect—and you’ll find a vocal, engaged audience that can add to your online network of resources.

Posted by Irene Gomez, Chief Inspiration Officer, Corporate Media Services

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