Last week, JP Morgan Chase & Co. asked college students in advance of an upcoming forum with a senior company executive to send questions over Twitter with the hashtag “#AskJPM.” Less than six hours after the hashtag was introduced, the company tweeted this, “#Badidea! Back to the drawing board,” and cancelled the forum. This move was preceded by more than 6,000 tweets with users employing the hashtag often to paint the bank in a bad light.
For professional services firms, this brouhaha is instructive. There is a constant push-pull when discussing social media. One side tends to advocate using Twitter as a near total one-way broadcast medium, pushing information (such as press releases, articles and speaking engagements) out. The other side advocates for more interaction and personality. They want users to field questions and create personal accounts that identify the company and contain both personal and business-related information.
The major objections tend to boil down to this:
“Why are we creating a Twitter account where we aren’t interacting with anyone? Isn’t that the whole purpose of social media?” – Tech-savvy marketer to leadership.
“Who cares if I watched the finale of Breaking Bad? I have enough to do without creating all this minutia! It cheapens my professional image.” – Leadership member to tech-savvy marketer.
What happens more times than not, is that the two schools of thought tend to cancel each other out, leaving many professional services companies on the sidelines.
Finding Middle Ground
The top-down encouragement, creation and curation of hybrid personal/professional Twitter accounts is a time-intensive activity. For most concerns, identifying who has organically signed up and alerting them to potential issues with their content is sufficient.
However, from a global, corporate level the creation of a company account is a solid move that allows for repurposing of content and provides access to large, aggregated audiences engaged on mobile and tablet devices.
Companies can also interact by tagging publications they are mentioned in and conferences they are attending, retweeting pertinent content and following (when appropriate) clients and key strategic business partners. This balance should help keep both the senior leadership member and the tech-savvy marketer happy.
Metrics for Success
And now, for a brief FAQ:
Q: No one follows us. Should this be a concern?
A: Nope. Follows will build over time. Your company isn’t Justin Bieber.
Q: A random person has started following us? Should I follow them?
A: Totally up to you. There is no predefined etiquette that dictates whether you should or should not.
Q: Can you tell me how we can generate business on Twitter?
A: Nope. However, I can tell you that visibility matters and that being on someone’s feed when they are scrolling through at night is a good thing. Twitter also helps your search engine optimization efforts.
Twitter is an important medium and a key communications tool. By being strategic, companies can strengthen their brands and grow their audiences. It’s just smart business.
It’s time to go and grab those handles and get tweeting!