Amybeth Hale – Research Goddess


Fast Company: Does Your Company Need A Dedicated Tweeter?
November 23, 2009, 7:00 am
Filed under: Article Reviews, Networking/Social Media, Technology, Thoughts, Twitter

Last Tuesday, Chris Dannen wrote an article on Fast Company giving a brief analysis of Weber Shandwick’s study which found that big companies just don’t get Twitter. At least, that’s what they say. Dannen followed up with an assessment that perhaps companies need a dedicated tweeter who won’t stick just to tweeting about ‘brand awareness’ but also bring more personal flavor to it:

“To succeed on Twitter, I’d bet that companies need do no more than ask those questions–and then hire that person to tweet about anything but brand awareness and product news. Twitter is so popular because it’s so personal and so direct; give one person the keys to your brand’s castle, and they’ll go out and connect. But don’t try to drag the whole board-room table.”

I disagree with this, and I wanted to respond to this post here on my blog in hopes of bringing more attention to the post and soliciting more feedback on this issue.

I have to wonder if individual user accounts who tweet on behalf of these companies were taken into consideration in Weber Shandwick’s study, or if the only Twitter accounts that were considered were officially endorsed accounts, created by the companies themselves. I for one know that many companies have employees who represent them, on a rather official basis, but they aren’t ‘branded’ as a company account because the companies realize the need for personalization of their Twitter presence.

Furthermore, each company is going to have a different purpose for using Twitter. Some perhaps don’t need/want to engage there. Anyone who understands marketing and social media strategy knows that the shoe doesn’t fit everyone in the same way. I saw that the Weber Shandwick study discusses that briefly.

As to the original question of this post, I don’t think a dedicated “tweeter” could/should be a full-time job at this point. It should be part of many people’s jobs, not just one person. The idea of having one dedicate person reeks of the antiquated “spokesperson” concept, and if you take a look at the way business is done today, there is never just “one voice” of a company any more, especially not within the walls of social media.

I think it’s better to ask several people, who understand your company (i.e. NOT a brand-new intern), to participate in some degree. This doesn’t have to (and shouldn’t, in my opinion) rest solely with one internal team or individual. It should be a collaborative effort – after all, if the purpose of a company being on Twitter is to engage, shouldn’t the entire company be represented, not just one person or group of individuals which has decided that they ‘own’ the company’s social media presence? (a whole other issue itself…)

How about you – what do you think about this? Should companies hire a dedicated tweeter or team of people whose sole function is to tweet (and I’m sure engage on other social media)? Leave your thoughts in a comment below.

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3 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Great post, Amybeth and thanks for bringing the study to my attention.

It would be a good question to have answered-did the study include employees that are not official “brand reps”, but Tweet regularly including updates on their respective companies? I wonder if there is a study out there on this topic??

And, agreed that “One Official Tweeter” is a bit ridiculous, IMHO. Companies are comprised of many voices that are more often than not heard these Web 2.0 days, so you should not limit the
corporate voice to one person.

Think, as an example- if that person leaves/changes roles etc, the existing followers might not follow the Twitter account anymore should they not like the new “Twitter rep”. That’s just one scenario.I am referring to large corporations, per the study examples.

Even small companies should have a few, diverse voices out there. This practice promotes transparency, credibility, a sense of the human touch, which will in turn translate into potential clients and hires, all whom have a sense of what your company is really all about.

Baby steps….

Comment by SuzyT

You are spot on! There should be an ecosystem of people throughout the organization dedicated to the effort of making the business social both internally and externally. I think the most relevant example is @twelpforce for Best Buy, it has over 2,200 people representing best buy and themselves, and a great by-product (if they are good in this space) is the good reflection of the type of people Best Buy has hired.

The new organization that helps organizations succeed in the B2C, B2B, C2C (colleague 2 colleague) is an eclectic group of individuals working for the C-Level and each organizational units in the ecosystem respectively. They are held responsible for strategizing, executing, thinking, refining, collaborating, rolling up sleeves and having fun with these new ways of doing work for the whole company. This group is responsible for keeping each other informed (which is not too hard for the folks in this group) as well as the rest of the company and their customers!

I would agree one dedicated person would be too small of a perspective for small, medium, and large organizations. When creating, managing, retooling, hiring, reviewing, and leading this organization some “3rd Box Over” type of thinking is necessary!

Example: Hiring process….have a tweetup with people that want to do this for your company internally or externally, engage them in conversation, observe and listen to the people that show up, you will see it and feel it, then ask them do you want to work in this group starting Monday? If yes then show up to this location on Monday, we will figure out with your current boss what needs to happen for backfilling (think about it I bet there is someone else in the company that wants their old job). So there now 2 people completely passionate about the work they are doing! Bet Productivity, innovation, satisifaction increases! Test it out see what happens…..

Comment by Keith Privette

Amybeth:

Thanks for posting about our paper!

The Weber Shandwick study looked at official company accounts, as well as accounts by employees who:

– have the company name in their Twitter handle
– clearly identified the company in their Twitter profile
– regularly discuss company information

Hope this helps!

Comment by Daniel Honigman




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