This is the small business version of a short list intended to inspire thought and ignite action. While items on this list may convert to personal, social use of Twitter they may be even more critical to protect brand reputation. Small business owners have so many thin lines between personal and business the blurriness occasionally results in missed communications which damage brand trust. When engaging on Twitter as a brand it is crucial to keep these five things, among others not mentioned herein, at the front of the mind to avoid embarrassing and harmful actions.
Tweeting is simple, too simple perhaps, and therein lies the rapidity at which reputation and trust can decline through use of that channel for business. Every small business representative who uses Twitter to share information or engage with their customer base must remember at all times the number of users following the brand account is only a small representation of those who can view the Tweets. Since Twitter is truly public, except for private accounts which are useless for social media marketing, every syllable has the opportunity to build or destroy trust. With that in mind here are “5 Things Small Businesses Should Never Do On Twitter”:
ONE – Never attack the competition. This activity could result in the loss of more than only trust or confidence from existing and prospective customers. Depending on the words chosen it could also bring the chance for the poster to face charges of libel for damaging the reputation of the competitor. When a prospect sees a provider attacking a competitor, or another customer, it brings into question how the provider may respond to the new customer in public.
DO – defend the industry and encourage readers to research their needs and choose the company best suited to provide services to them. In the end it makes the defender look more confident and in control and not fearful of losing an opportunity to serve which may be taken up by the competitor.
TWO – Never ignore negative comments directed to the business. As use of Twitter grows and brands begin to fully grasp the power of using the channel for dissemination of information it is also crucial to recognize Twitter, by design, is a two-way communication channel entirely in the global, public space. Prospective clients who find a Twitter account which seems only to push information out and never respond may be discouraged from engaging that company for business.
DO – respond in a timely manner even if it is to invite the poster to move the discussion offline. The definition of “timely manner” may vary and the business operator should have an understanding of whether that means one minute, one hour or one day. Suffice it to say more than 24 hours may lead to a souring of the topic.
THREE – Never take on more than the business is prepared to handle. Finding a Twitter account with only one post and that over six months old announcing the presence of the business on Twitter, and an account following 3 people and being followed by 102, all spam accounts, is generally not going to invoke a high level of trust in that company. If the business is not ready to be active on Twitter is recommended to save Twitter for a later date once resources exist to leverage the channel properly.
DO – hire a professional when resources allow and need requires. Aside from that there is a vast wealth of opportunity available through Twitter and removing some other less rewarding channel may be a move worthy of in-depth consideration.
FOUR – Never be the broken record that refuses to shut up. Perhaps nothing is more annoying on Twitter than an account which auto-posts the same Tweet every day at the same time. For prospective customers who find the Twitter account and see “View our website for our full catalog” posted every day at noon the likelihood of that visit to that website occurring are minimized.
DO – share valuable and timely information. If there is nothing to share then nothing should be shared. It may be better to have only one Tweet per week with valuable information than to have thirty days of worthless drivel which means nothing to prospective customers and the community at large.
FIVE – Never mix party time with work time. Showing prospective customers drunk dancing photos or commenting on politics, religion, sports, or anything not directly business related may result in not only damaged trust but open attacks from detractors who otherwise would have remained quiet. Anything not directly related to the business is usually best left for the personal account. For this reason it may be valuable not to link personal and business accounts with links, Tweet sharing, re-tweeting and other methods.
DO – tweet about events and activities relevant to the business or industry. Sharing information about a trade show or open house is valuable information to readers which will help build trust and confidence in the business hopefully resulting in future transactions.
BONUS – in the end it is up tot he business operator to determine exactly how to engage on Twitter. A hardcore rock band is likely going to benefit from a different methodology than a needlework supply store. Tweeting about religion, politics and sports may be dangerous to a local real estate agent while it may play well to a local radio station. Keep in mind whatever is published in the public domain such as Twitter may result in small ripples or big splashes and ultimately the business operator is responsible for the results, or fallout, and any damage or improvements which result from them.
To sum it all one could say be aware of how the public is responding and attempt to lead the conversation in a positive way. When negatives come along address them quickly and always lead with positives even when harsh negatives are the first thought.