Engagement Does Matter: Twitter

This post was originally published on March 24, 2011. 

Last night, I participated in #pr20chat and one of the questions asked was how much brands should schedule tweets? The questions sparked some great discussion, but it also got me thinking about how companies should approach Twitter, and the need for engagement and two-way dialogue.

So, what’s the perfect mix? @Andrew_ShipPR and I shared it should be a balance of 25% scheduled and 75% organic or engagement types of tweets. The 75% could include retweets, @replies and relationship-building tweets. Sometimes there might be some flux, but it shouldn’t surpass 30% of scheduled content. This enables us to build relationships, while sharing some promotional content. Rationale? There are three key things we need to remember:

There is such a thing as too much. Moderation is key. Automated tweets make you sound like a machine, and no one wants to talk to a machine. Well, maybe if you were Rosie from the Jetsons. (I loved her.) If we use scheduled tweets as a crutch, we won’t actually be on Twitter. Or worse, since we rely on scheduled tweets we also miss out on conversations that may be happening in the community or beyond. For example, you might have had a light and humorous post about your weekend plans, during the Japan earthquake. Mistakes happen, but being online and active minimizes the likelihood of an oops.

Engagement is essential. I recently read that engagement doesn’t matter in health care social media, but I have to admit that I disagree. Yes, engagement for brands is being available when customers need them, but it also means that in order to be available – people have to know what value brands bring. Engagement from a brand means sharing valuable content – content your audience will find useful or actually use. That means you have to know your audience before you can just start blasting messages. It also means you have to be listening to your community to find engagement opportunities to share resources and information (aka valuable content).

You can’t automate customer service. As more and more brands leverage Twitter as a customer service outlet and opportunity, it’s important to watch, listen and respond to members of your community. There’s no automation to this. You can’t walk away and say, “Okay, they’ll just call my 1-800 number.” Proactive customer service takes time, energy and yes, money. However, Ernan Roman, author of Voice of the Customer Marketing, reminds us that it’s 7 to 10 times more expensive to acquire a new customer than to sell an existing customer. So, it’s worth the investment.

Seeing a theme here? Listen. Listening is crucial to any sort of engagement. And listening happens throughout the process. But it’s also to remember that there is a distinct different between listening and understanding (as Beth Harte shared today – check out her post here).  So, don’t just watch what’s happening, pay attention and understand the context of the conversation.

What are your thoughts on the mix of scheduled tweets versus organic ones?

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Posted on January 27, 2012, in Marketing, Public Relations, social media and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Reblogged this on jmarcellw and commented:
    Thank you Laura for sharing this information! Public relations is a management function that creates and maintains positive relationships between business and customer through two-way communication. Twitter is an essential social media outlet for companies to effectively and efficiently LISTEN to their customers dialogue about the the company. The best PR pro’s recognize a strategic advantage in social media, allowing them to get the message out there quickly.

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