Jenny Sussin

A member of the Gartner Blog Network

Jenny Sussin
Principal Research Analyst
2 years with Gartner
4 years IT industry

Jenny Sussin is a princial research analyst in the ITL Enterprise Software group of Gartner Research, with primary focus on social for CRM. Read Full Bio

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Social Networking for Business: Twitter Etiquette

by Jenny Sussin  |  March 5, 2012  |  13 Comments

“Social Network for Business: Etiquette” series disclaimer: too many people in business (marketers, you are the #1 culprit) very obviously to users on the social networks, do not understand the medium they are working with. No one is asking you to create new content. We (we the people, the cool cats on these networks) just want you to put a little effort into making sure the way the content is presented is appropriate for where you’ve placed it.

Today we tackle the all-mighty Twitter with it’s PR-filled postings and the outright lies about being passionate about *insert B2B-sold tech object here.*

I know that there are likely thousands of “what to do on Twitter if you’re a business” blog posts out there – most were from two years ago a la the blog posts on Pinterest (am I a hypocrite?) swirling around right now – but I believe the time has come to assess some of the silly little things we’re still seeing out of business Twitter handles and lay down our collective pleas for the universal “you” to stop it. (I think I really missed an opportunity here to headline these blogs “Hey you! Stop it.”)

As a little precursor I want to say, this list used to be so much longer. Companies are doing a great job learning from their mistakes in the past – so don’t be discouraged when reading these, just keep them in mind.

Let’s throw out a couple of gripes we’ve all had with “you”…

1. Sounding the alarm then putting in the earplugs and taking a nice long nap: stop it! I’m actually cool with companies marketing to me assuming I’ve opted to follow them (that is a dig at promoted tweets) but then when I want to ask you something, you listen. You not only listen, you respond.

2. Acting like a robot: stop it! Continuing from the gripe above, you not only respond, you respond like a human – not a robot. I didn’t go to your self-service site because  I didn’t want a canned answer. I know we’re all busy and it’s easier to provide our employees with canned answers rather than training them on etiquette from medium-to-medium, but by being on Twitter, this is what you signed up for. Are these standards too high? I don’t think so. Personal example: I had a jolly old exchange with UPS over them sending my package to the wrong address. I was pissed that my package was across town, but I actually forgave a pretty substantial error because the person tweeting from @UPShelp was so real with me. Now I’m not the “every man,” but I immediately thought much more highly of UPS. (Plus my new UPS guy at home keeps bringing my packages into the foyer instead of leaving them on the porch, but I digress…)

A gratuitous why-I’m-such-a-pain-in-the-neck:

3. Businesses that ask employees to do their bidding from the employees’ personal IDs: stop it! Why? For one, everyone knows it wasn’t your employees idea to tell their friends about your product – unless they are a regular product evangelist, they won’t have followers who care and your sweet “impressions” number means nothing. For another, what if someone then comes back to that employee to answer a question and your employee either doesn’t know the answer or is not usually on Twitter so they see it 5 days later. It reflects poorly on the company for the employee to say “hey I don’t really know what I was just talking about, go on this wild goose chase to find out” or to not respond at all. Plus we all pity the employee and think a little less of him/her for being such a slave to the groove.

4. Hijacking a tag for competitive communications purposes: STOP, please stop. Some of you may be familiar with hijacked tags advertising adult themed products or services, but there has been talk in the past of hijacking tags for a competitive purpose. An example of this would be if during one of Coca-cola’s events that had a hypothetical hashtag of #cola2012 where attendees were discussing things happening at the event, Pepsi came in and said something like “Pepsi is better than Coca-cola as proven in taste tests #cola2012.” All you’re doing is spamming a community. “But it’s relevant and clever.” No it isn’t. If people wanted to talk to you about your product/service/topic they would have used a tag that called you to attention. Back off. You’re ruining Twitter.

5. Overcomplicated hashtags: (credit to Charles Tuite) No one can figure out what you mean. Putting your name in front of a practice or universal item doesn’t make the conversation yours, it makes it a private conversation, where you’re talking to yourself. If you want to join the conversation, use a broad hashtag so that people outside of your usual reach can find you and speak to you. “But I can’t track how many people tweeted with my tag then!” It’s going to be okay. Impressions is a bologna number anyway. If you really need, you can run a search or create an archive for tweets with two hashtags in them, one being your company name and one being the broad topic – that way you’re hitting multiple audiences.

 

What else bugs you about businesses’ approaches to Twitter? Anything you see that you actually really like?

13 Comments »

Category: customer service marketing social crm social media     Tags: , , , ,

13 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Social Networking for Business: Twitter Etiquette | My Wordpress Blog   March 5, 2012 at 11:23 pm

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  • 2 Social Networking for Business: Twitter Etiquette | Anything You Want   March 6, 2012 at 2:04 am

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  • 4 Charles Tuite   March 6, 2012 at 5:21 am

    Aside from the spammers who do a mention with a link to a bogus drawing for an iPad whenever I Tweet – hard to really call them businesses – I hate it when companies put in links that are broken. If they can’t figure out a link, what chance is it that they figured out the software they want me to buy? I also hate it when they create hashtags that are impossible to understand or know unless you are an ‘insider’.

    One thing I’d like to see that I haven’t really seen yet is more social media support that isn’t cookie-cutter marketing. I don’t mean helping people figure out why they can’t use more than 140 characters, I mean a dedicated segment of strategy, where they periodically post a link to a website that has their streams, different Tweeters they may want to follow, lists of their hashtags and kind of a centralized area that doesn’t directly market their wares, but rather markets their experience and interaction in a social way. It wouldn’t be a replacement for Twitter, but would help n00bs and not so n00bs know more about what they are doing, and how they are doing it.

    To me, social media is seen as a bolt-on for the structure that already exists – a small box added separately to the functional chart for each segment of a company, oftentimes not connected directly to any other small boxes, nor to anyone who really ‘cares’ about what happens. That’s okay, it’s an attempt, but it causes a dispersal of useful information and provides a lot of people a lot of stuff to monitor, use and connect the pieces from. What would be effective would be a new structure for it so it is understood.as being an integral part of how a company wants to commune with their customers. Social media isn’t a Facebook link, it’s more a private message asking how they can help when someone posts #[insert software name, company, or product name]fail.

  • 5 Social Networking for Business: Twitter Etiquette « Social Media Blog   March 6, 2012 at 5:59 am

    [...] 4 Comments » [...]

  • 6 Social Networking for Business: Twitter Etiquette | Technology News   March 6, 2012 at 12:06 pm

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  • 7 Jenny Sussin   March 6, 2012 at 1:02 pm

    Charles you are spot on. I think a #5 is needed here. As per your recommendation:

    5. Overcomplicated hashtags:
    No one can figure out what you mean. Putting your name in front of a practice or universal item doesn’t make the conversation yours, it makes it a private conversation, where you’re talking to yourself. If you want to join the conversation, use a broad hashtag so that people outside of your usual reach can find you and speak to you. “But I can’t track how many people tweeted with my tag then!” It’s going to be okay. Impressions is a bologna number anyway. If you really need, you can run a search or create an archive for tweets with two hashtags in them, one being your company name and one being the broad topic – that way you’re hitting multiple audiences.

  • 8 David Chiles   March 7, 2012 at 8:50 am

    I agree that companies that have followers on Twitter and friends on Social Networks have a responsibility to their customers who are their friends and followers before others. It’s good netiquette to take care of your friends. Thanks for sharing an insightful post, your awesome!

  • 9 Jenny Sussin   March 7, 2012 at 1:37 pm

    Thanks David – really appreciate the positive feedback!

  • 10 Social Networking for Business: Twitter Etiquette | Watch Entourage Streaming   March 7, 2012 at 7:44 pm

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  • 11 Social Networking for Business: Twitter Etiquette | Science Timeline 21st Century   March 7, 2012 at 10:38 pm

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  • 12 Marie   March 30, 2012 at 12:22 pm

    Auto DM when you follow someone is a no-no in my book.

  • 13 Jenny Sussin   March 30, 2012 at 1:12 pm

    Amen Marie!