First, a disclaimer. I freakin’ love Twitter. It has been, for me, a goddess-send of networking, a maelstrom of market research, and information value. It took a fair amount of experimentation to figure out what a Twitter best-practice scenario would be for me, and it has varied with different positions, clients, products, and strat plans. I use Tweetdeck: a third-party application to actually “use” Twitter. It lets me monitor simultaneous accounts and discussions, and links up to my Facebook and LinkedIn accounts. But there are others, and you may like them better. HootSuite. CoTweet. Seesmic. Tweetie, Echofon or OpenBeak for your handset. Twitter, for me, serves very specific business purposes, and it serves them extremely well. Lather, rinse, and repeat.
Still, I encounter a lot of resistance about Twitter. (Twesistance?)
“Why should we?”
“Twitter is just a bunch of noise about people eating lunch.”
“Our customers aren’t online.”
“We already have a website.”
Sound familiar? There are plenty of reasons to avoid Twitter, and other social media, it seems. It is true that there are a zillion time-wasting testimonials out there, and a plethora of pundits sharing little, if any, value to organizations and the causes they represent.
I worked for a non-profit think tank. Tiny, but smart. With limited human resources, we had to constantly punch above our weight and consider smarter ways of doing things. Our limited communications budget meant that we couldn’t pay a PR firm. And doing things was our goal, of course – we wanted direct action from our efforts, we wanted to measure efficacy, and we wanted people to talk about us. To each other. Twitter made sense.
The vast array of tools at our fingertips has really changed the way we make things happen, and the speed at which technology solutions keep us competitive, relevant, and always on our proverbial toes. Management and growth of our brand can’t happen without the alignment of our website to our communications strategy, and we are constantly reiterating, changing, improving, and updating so that our “hub” is a plugged-in place where constituents can connect with us and with each other. Building in a blog brings us recency and relevancy and improved our search ratings, but it also gives us an op/ed channel that is oft-tweeted and commented on. A simple share bar allows our visitors to take our content outside of the site and extend its’ life – to remash it, remix it, and use it as they see fit. Without social media, we’d be a lot less nimble, and a lot less relevant.
So here’s how I attempt to convince a curmudgeon (phrase borrowed from Charlene Li) or a hater (phrase borrowed from Mary J. Blige), should I encounter one. The great thing about curmudgeons is that they usually hold the purse strings (and tie them in a triple sailor’s knot), and many social media tactics are possible without snatching the purse. Ever heard that it’s “easier to apologize than to ask for permission”? Well, sometimes it’s better to frame your argument around “Because if we don’t….”. Set the Doomsday scenario. Couch it in 2012 terms if you have to. But avoid Nicolas Cage at all costs.
Here’s a handy script:
“Because if we don’t use Twitter, we cut ourselves off from the following benefits:
1. To listen to what our community says about the issues we purport to be experts in.
2. To promote our work within and connect to a wider audience.
3. To monitor a variety of topics that we are interested in, simultaneously.
4. To let people share our work with their networks and beyond.
5. To respond quickly to our audience’s questions.
6. To participate in discussions involving our strategic focus.”
Sometimes when we just do it, the tacit approval just comes. Because the tools at our disposal often have such great measurement capabilities built in, it is possible to set metrics with realistic expectations of getting that data. And a curmudgeon loves data, even if s/he doesn’t know what it means. Lather, rinse , repeat. And, because it’s Friday (#followfriday on Twitter), word to your #mother.