Some businesses seem a little confused about how best to use social media to promote their brand, particularly Twitter. The corporate world versus mere humans should be a mis-match, but so confused do some people get that at times it seems like grandpa versus the cool kids. Aside from its brevity, we try not to treat Twitter any differently from other PR tactics. These tactics should basically reflect the marketing objectives, which in turn reflect the overall aims and objectives of the business and be informed by a clear and measurable strategy.

Most corporate Twitter users adopt a fairly ad hoc approach to disseminating information. Some use it to enter into a dialogue, which usually helps grow the sphere of influence through re-tweets and larger number of followers.

From a PR standpoint, we prefer to have overall messages agreed, by which we mean the tone and purpose rather than, necessarily, the exact wording, which are clear and concise and readily understood.

Determining what these messages should be is usually a three stage process (hat tip / apologies here to PR guru Anne Gregory):
– Review: Look at existing perceptions. Are they correct? What needs to be changed?
– Consider: Can perceptions be shifted? What facts can we use to back up our view?
– Persuade: Identify the elements of persuasion, using those facts to demonstrate our point

You may find considering what brand advertising would look like helpful as this helps you to boil down your message to its essence.
It may also help to think about topics from the point of view of the other PR and marketing tactics available (research, conferences, news releases, sponsorship, direct mail etc.) i.e. what messages would we deliver via these tactics and how? Or it may help to consider common subject matter. Most organisations’ news falls into four very broad categories

– People – appointments, personal achievements, promotions, profiles etc
– Plans – announcements, targets, acquisitions, growth etc
– Performance – achievements, awards, case studies (e.g. the monkey wins)
– Products – services, innovations, what most people equate to ‘good pr’

Get a list of topics together under those headings and you’ll not go far wrong. There are also lots of good examples of corporate social media guidelines on the web which may also help. Some are fairly simple (i.e. Use your common sense. Beware of privacy issues. Play nice, and be honest.) others are more stringent. Adidas also helpfully point out at the end of their guidelines: “And finally. With all the blogging and interacting, don’t forget your daily job…”