Twitter, Social Media and Professionalism
This post is a riff on Be careful who you hire to manage your business’ Twitter account, which is a post on Social Media Today.
In the original article, the author talks about, essentially, how to tell whether a Twitter feed is being handled professionally, or not. Here are their “5 Points to consider before hiring a service to manage your Twitter account.”
1. Before you even look at the different tools for measuring a Tweeter’s level of influence (which can be misleading and in some cases manipulated) you firstly need to check the individual’s own Twitter stream.
- What type of language are they using? – agreed. Branding involves, among other things, speeaking the language of your customers. Are you a hip hop record label? A travel agency catering to retirees? A diamond jeweler? All of these businesses are going to have different customer demographics. There is no “one size fits all” here. I am not saying that people cannot adapt to communicate properly with everyone they do business with (after all, you need not hire a child to market to children), but the Social Media Specialist needs to get the message across so that the target readership is receptive.
- Are they SPAMMING their own followers by sending lazy Tweets for example? #FF @Tweeter1 @Tweeter2 etc. – I’m not so sure I call this spamming. I think, at times, it’s useful to do this. But overdoing it (and you’ll know it’s overkill if tweets like this – or quickie retweets – dominate the stream) is definitely not a good way to do business.
- How are they using their own account, is it professional or sloppy? Are they Tweeting late into the night and have no professional boundaries. They are over mixing professional with personal Tweets. – agreed. And with useful tools such as Social Oomph, tweets can be scheduled. There’s no excuse for late night tweeting, and no need for it. If the stream is meant to engage internationally, it might be a good idea to split it up into more than one account, so that one stream is for North America and another for Asia.
- Are their own Tweets all over the place so you are not able to pick up a clear message. – this is a good point, and not just when it comes to Twitter. A clear message is key – for the Robotics company where I work, the message is about sales, it’s about education and it’s about robots. NASA, for example, is only mentioned in the context of robotics, not in the context of space launches. There’s a lot of information out there. Consider it to be a bit like a garden – usually it needs weeding and thinning, as opposed to fertilizing.
- Are they acknowledging where they are taking their material from or just duplicating what they see their competitors doing? – ah, this is big. It’s why the original source for this article is listed. And it is a big part of how the ‘net works, or at least is supposed to. You post a blog entry. A competitor sees it. If they riff on it and post it and give you a linkback. that’s good for you. And you thank them and do the same in reverse and yeah, they’re still a competitor, but you’ve got common ground and there are areas where you can cooperate. Or they don’t acknowledge you, and everybody digs their heels in and the world becomes a slightly more miserable place. Hey, you make the call, but I prefer cooperation pretty much every time, myself.
- Do their Tweets make any sense to you or are they just full of self promotion they hold no real value other than grooming their own ego. – true, but I think sometimes this can come from Social Media marketing folk not being properly trained. If the marketing manager is unsure of how much promotion should be mixed in with information, the marketer might be similarly confused.
- How much negativity comes across in their stream – not everything is or should be positive, but I do get this. The idea is, well, are you promoting to people who want to buy your company’s organic brownie mix, or are you just going to sound petulant and whiny? There is, though, I feel, a way to be too perky. But I think if there are errors in this area, they should probably fall on the side of more, rather than less, perk.
2. Ask to be given the name of one of the business accounts they are managing, go through this with a fine tooth comb. Keep an active eye on the account and monitor how they are managing the business’ online profile.
- How many Tweets are there and what type are they sending? – it’s a quantity and a quality game on Twitter. You need to get across some seven views before people start to consider buying. And consider Twitter’s international, 24/7 appeal – people may be checking at 4 AM. This, by the way, goes against an earlier statement about the marketer not tweeting into the wee hours. No, they shouldn’t – but unfortunately, sometimes, that’s when the readers are online. After all, if you’re tweeting for people playing World of Warcraft, they’ll be on at 4 AM. As for quality, that goes along with the above statements as well – are the tweets worthwhile, or are they dull self-promotion?
- How are they engaging with the client’s audience? – some of this is in the form of retweeting. I think that retweeting and replying have a place, as it is a give and take type of engagement, so long as the retweeting and replying don’t crowd out the original content.
- How is the call-to-action placed and worded? – this is fairly self-explanatory. There is a difference between what looks like a hard sell, and what has more of a friendly “Hey, check this out” vibe. Does the marketer know the difference?
- Are the articles relevant to the client’s industry and audience? – this harkens back to my NASA example above. Content is necessary, of course, but irrelevant content is worse than no content at all. Better that the marketer pump out less content if it’s not relevant, yes?
- Are they adding any value? – the $64,000 question! Can you tell without having access to measurement tools?
3. Ask for a number of references and call them.
- How has the business level of influence grown? For sure if they cannot achieve this for themselves, they are not going to be able to do it for the client. – try objective measurements if you can get them, like Google page rank, bounce rate, etc.
- What have been the benefits? – only your industry will have the specifics for this. Increased sales may or may not be the actual benefit. After all, sometimes social media is used for damage control. If that can be performed more efficiently and inexpensively – that might be the benefit.
- What difference has it made to your online brand? – again, this is a specific question.
- How good is the level of communication? – hard to say what this means without context. After all, the car dealer and the online cancer support group are going to have different needs in this area.
- What results has the business seen? – again, objective measurements are best, whatever you can get.
4. Ask what Twitter measuring tools are they using to provide their clients with monthly reports.
- While there are some good free tools around they do not come close to paid analytical tools for managing Twitter accounts. – agreed, but sometimes that’s how things go, particularly if the Tweeter has been working for startups or nonprofits.
- Ask what recommendations they have made to the client that have enabled the business to grow based on the findings. – these should be in whatever reports the Tweeter provides.
5. Ask how much time they intend to spend on your account over the week.
- How will this time be managed with all their other projects? – this is a good question for any sort of a freelance or offsite working relationship.
- What elements of account management does this breakdown in to? – again, this is not confined to social media; it’s a good question for any potential employee who’ll be working remotely, or not exclusively with you.
- How will they keep you informed and up to date with relevant Tweets and conversations? – reports? Emails? What is manageable and relevant?
And now a few of my own.
- What do the tweets look like? Are they interesting? Relevant? Grammatically correct within the character limit? Or are they just slight variations on a theme?
- Do any provided links work, or do they go to dead ends? Do the links have any sort of measurement behind them, even if it’s just simple click metrics? Do they lead to generic pages, or to any custom pages for Twitter users?
- What’s the follow/follower ratio? Does the person follow everyone, or are they, at least seemingly, a bit choosy in this area? We all know that there are junk follower accounts – does the Tweeter even follow those or seem to use auto-follow?
- How often does the person tweet? Daily? Monthly? A monthly Twitter stream is barely this side of useful. Tweets need not come every five seconds, but it is a fluid, evolving medium and needs more attention than that.
- And finally, and this is a question for the person (and you may not get an accurate answer, by the way), does the Tweeter actually like what he or she is doing? Do they have a passion for it? Or is it, like, Time to make the doughnuts? I’m not saying that we can (or should) always love what we do. But plenty of people love doing this. Why not hire someone who does?
You can get a professional, passionate Social Media person, to handle your Twitter stream, do your blogging, manage your online community, promote your Facebook page and more. We really are out there.