In the last few weeks I’ve seen a lot of no-no’s when it comes to Twitter. I’ve seen a CEO make idle threats at former employees, I’ve seen a tweet about ones visit to the restroom, and I’ve even seen what I am sure to be confidential corporate information tweeted by a CMO. I’ve even seen an account removed entirely—it’s been a bad month. Now, of course there’s no reason to disregard Twitter as an amazing marketing and social media tool, if fact all of this really just highlights a couple key To Tweets and Not To Tweets that every corporate marketer, company Twitter and executive Twitter user should follow. But first, a couple guidelines for a company that uses Twitter AND for those whose executives use Twitter.
It sounds funny because it is, but whether you’re managing a corporate Twitter account or you’re executives and C-suite are using tweeting from or about work, you need to have a basic Twitter-Greement. Set out the basics like what constitutes confidential corporate information, and what constitutes defamation. Set out guidelines such as if tweeting during work hours is permitted and if the company name should be used. You can also specify who can speak for the company—for example; you can specify that only C-Suite execs can tweet about corporate opinions, company policy, actions and reactions.
Lay out all guidelines, as well as preferences, with the understanding that you can’t infringe on the first amendment rights of employees but you can curtail what is said regarding confidential information and you can prevent information from being presented as corporate opinion or statement rather than personal. These days, some companies are going so far as to incorporate social media rules and guidelines into the employment contract—an idea if you’re heavily invested in social media.
Corporate Twitter, CEO/CMO and C-Suite Tweeps
- First, show some personality and be yourself. You don’t have to present yourself as the “corporate spokesperson.” Talk about your life, your family, discuss current events—even what you had for dinner. If you’re managing a company Twitter you still need to maintain a personal approach so use your profile to say who you are (not just the company name) and talk about yourself and your experiences as well as company happenings. Otherwise, you’ll lose interest from followers fast.
- You’re a public name when it comes to your company so tweet that way. Talk about news, new projects, ask questions, test ideas and generally look for feedback.
- Don’t bore followers with nothing but links to the corporate blog, press releases, news stories and white papers—this isn’t the Press section on your website.
Not to Tweet:
- Keep in mind that some things (politics, competitors, religion, etc.) are things to steer clear of if you discuss company issues, events or include your company name in your profile. Your statements and opinions can get confused with that of the company and that can alienate customers and contacts. (Remember, I’m not saying you can’t discuss these things legally, just that you shouldn’t for the sake of the corporate reputation.)
- It almost goes without saying, but don’t tweet insults about co-workers, confidential or non-public company information or anything you wouldn’t want a co-worker or competitor to read. Twitter comes with privacy, defamation, trade secret and whole host of employment issues and the law in this area is still developing so do your best to avoid getting caught up in the Twitter legal proving grounds.
I’ve seen a lot with Twitter this past month, so rest assured that people are learning from their mistakes—no one has this all figured out just yet. Don’t be afraid to take advantage of social media, just do it with the understanding that everything requires a professional perspective and planning. Companies are building networks, running promotions and making business contacts all using Twitter so there are proven track records for social media marketing success with Twitter.