Using Twitter for Business: Advantages and Disadvantages

hashtag cloud

Social media has made reaching out to your fans and building your brand a far easier and more direct process.Twitter can be a powerful tool that greatly benefits your brand. It can also be the source of an enormous PR wildfire, however.

Before you dive into a Twitter strategy for your business, consider some of the potential impacts to your online reputation.

Advantages

ImmediacyUsing Twitter for marketing means you’re able to contact your brand’s biggest advocates directly, and they’re able to contact you. This kind of communication can help bolster your company and spread the word about new products, new initiatives, and new ideas. It’s also a good way to handle emerging issues before they grow out of hand.

Lenth– Twitter is direct, compact, and simple to use: the hard 140-character limit means you have to be concise, and everyone knows that. People don’t expect your tweets to be comprehensive. That means you can do a lot of effective outreach on Twitter without spending your whole day writing.

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Virality– Tweets are designed to spread quickly and easily, which is great when the tweet being shared is flattering to your business. Having a few positive viral tweets about your company can make a big difference to your online reputation.

Disadvantages

Misinterpretation– If your tweets are misunderstood and then spread virally, this can create long-lasting negative effects on your business reputation. This is especially true if people start writing about the tweets in other media. News reporters, for instance, often embed tweets into their articles, creating a permanent record of a message that otherwise would have disappeared under a mountain of newer tweets.

Hacks– Your Twitter feed can be hacked and used to spread misinformation or otherwise damage your brand. Twitter is seeking to fight this, using methods such as two-factor identification, but you still need to be vigilant in case of a breach.

Appropriation– Hashtag campaigns can easily be hijacked by anybody, from a competitor to an activist to someone just playing a prank. Once users decide to have fun at your expense, it can quickly get out of hand. A good example of this is McDonald’s, who sponsored a hashtag only to see everyone from disgruntled employees to animal rights activists use it to embarrass the company.

Rogue or incompetent employees– If the wrong employee is put in charge of the Twitter feed, it can lead to a PR mess, whether it’s a problem with an angry customer that gets out of hand or a very public expression of personal opinion. And as the Red Cross found out, there’s the potential for very human mistakes. You’ll need to weigh this risk in your Twitter marketing plan.

Requires quick responses– Twitter users expect you to be responsive and address their concerns immediately. If you don’t have the capacity to react quickly on Twitter, you may find yourself at the receiving end of a storm of complaints. There’s also nothing worse than being accused publicly on twitter and not noticing until days later when the issue has gone viral.

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Best Practices

There’s no perfect formula for success in every situation, but if you follow a few key principles, you can leverage the power of Twitter to grow your brand, protect your online reputation, and improve marketing impact:

  1. Don’t tweet anything you wouldn’t publish on your website.
  2. Check your account multiple times a day for any customer comments.
  3. Never lose your temper: always respond politely and calmly to any complaints, addressing the facts, not opinions.
  4. Don’t just write your own posts; retweet interesting items that your customers will appreciate as well.
  5. Don’t make every tweet promotional; customers will quickly lose interest if your feed is not entertaining.
  6. Use multi-factor authentication for your Twitter account and use a strong password, to prevent hacking.
  7. Use a social media dashboard to manage multiple accounts across multiple services effectively.
  8. Set specific goals for what you want to achieve on social media. Look at your competitors to get an idea of how high the bar is for the frequency and type of posts.
  9. If you don’t have dedicated social media staff, set a schedule for Twitter tasks and stick to it. If it’s not part of your routine, it’ll never get done because there’s always something more pressing.

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