OK. I started this article with the phrase “You bet your bippy.” Anyone who can trace the origins and post a comment at the end of this article should get an all-expense paid trip to tour the Media Bullseye Worldwide HQ (just kidding, guys).
I have been on the Twitterverse for some time and have recently, after nearly six months of wrangling, convinced my day-job employer to use it. I had to do a lot of a) education, b) explaining, c) re-explaining, d) translation and finally, e) make a business case for it. Most of what I do in teaching as well as in business is to explain things that are buzzwords to many people and every day tools for others, so writing this article is a real pleasure.
Here are some tips that can get you off and Tweeting:
Getting buy-in at work
- Know what you are talking about. Before you try to sell Twitter, get your own account, follow people, interact, and know the different type of Twitter users. There are people who do indeed use it for business communications, there are “I just washed my hair” people, there are “you all are MORONS” people and recently, there has been an outbreak of spam. But the bottom line is that you really have to be fluent in what it is and how to use it.
- Know how to translate a “micro blogging platform.” That’s your elevator speech. If you can’t explain Twitter in 30 seconds (probably the equivalent of 140 characters), you are dead in the water and will get the deer-in-the-headlights look at work. You can pick your own reference, but I usually tell people that it is a cross between a little blog and a message board – and you can recruit people to follow you an read what you have to say.
- Know that the lawyers will get involved. God bless all of you in communications roles who are not subject to legal approval, but most of us are. Just point out that Dell uses it, FEMA uses it in natural disasters, or find examples of other organizations or thought leaders in your firm that do. That will take you a long way to make sure that the Legal Eagles get fed and watered.
Starting and Building Your Brand
- Resist the impulse to make it all about you. People who regurgitate fluffy press releases are seen as hacks. If you follow people and have intelligent comments to make, people will follow you.
- This is WAY old school, but in addition to the rest of the stuff that people never read in your signature line in your email (except POSSIBLY) your phone number, list your Twitter account name. That is something that always gets may attention and shows some “street creds” in the social media space. I have yet to see a printed business card with a Twitter address on it, but I am sure they are out there.
- When you are looking to build an audience, ask questions. People love to give opinions and if you have a helpful user base, you can develop dialogue with people and get answers. For example, yesterday I was looking for a really good example of an interactive press release and asked my “Tweeps.” Got some good answers back.
- I mentioned this earlier, but if you use a Twitter account for business, do not mix personal stuff in. You can’t follow up a “Our CEO is going to give a Webcast in ten minutes: #123456” with, a few hours later “Getting wasted at the Rhino Bar.” Keep the personal and professional separate.
- Finally, understand, that like radio advertising, like TV advertising, like earned and paid media, it takes a lot of time and effort to build your brand. More importantly, make sure that the people from whom you got buy-in earlier understand this. There are not overnight successes (READ: Cuil). It takes planning, time and patience.
For those of you who are Tweeters, you might notice that I have not mentioned outages or that stupid whale that shows up. I am convinced that with its devoted following and a bunch of cash in the bank, Twitter will find a way to make it more stable a reliable.
So you bet your bippy that you can sell and make Twitter part of your communications enterprise.
Mark Story works for the federal government during the day, teaches at Georgetown University at night, writes “the Intersection of Online and Offline blog,” contributes to Media Bullseye, coaches little league and sleeps infrequently. You can contact him via email or better yet, on Twitter – @mstory123. He’ll be awake.