Advice on Twitter use – based on what top US companies are NOT doing

It’s often the way with things like Twitter that you tend mostly to hear stories about how well people are using them. Which can leave you with something of an inferiority complex about the fact that you haven’t actually had time to begin testing them properly – because you’ve been too busy raising money.

With this in mind, it’s worth taking a quick look at a free report just released by PR Agency Webber Shandwick entitled ‘Do Fortune 100 Companies Need a twittervention?’ – because their research revealed that as much can be learned from what big US companies are doing wrong as from what they are doing right when it comes to Twitter use.

Apparently 73 of the Fortune 100 companies are on Twitter, with 540 Twitter accounts between them. However, half of these accounts have fewer than 500 followers, three-quarters rarely ever tweet, and 81 are inactive – either abandoned after a specific event or simply placeholder accounts protecting against brand-jacking.

The report goes on to consider whether the accounts convey any form of personality or particular tone of voice – with over half registering a FAIL on this. It also examines how the accounts are being used, and then offers a summary of best practice – comprising advice which is as relevant for non-profits considering adding Twitter to their online communications programme as it is for big corporates.

Overall, the report concludes that for the majority of Fortune 100 companies Twitter remains a missed opportunity – which will hopefully make any fundraisers with a Twitter inferiority complex feel just a bit better that they’re not so far behind as they might have thought.

There is no doubt that Twitter can form an effective part of your online programme. But its use has matured extremely quickly and with this have come certain specific expectations on the behalf of Twitter users – which can only be met if you understand and follow best practice when you’re using it.

It’s no longer sufficient just to get your organisation a Twitter account and then play about and see what happens. At best that’s likely just to be a waste of your time and at worst could have a negative impact on your brand in the eyes of those online consumers you’re looking to engage with. Over the last couple of years there have been masses of different reports written on what to do and what not to do – so start by learning from other people’s successes, and failures, and then you’ll be in a far better position to capitalise on whatever Twitter-based opportunities might be out there for you.

For more specific guidance on using Twitter for non-profits, here are a couple of guides to start you off:

If anyone has other non-profit specific Twitter guides that they would recommend, then do share details of them by leaving a comment below.



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