As business take-up of Twitter continues to grow, examples of badly mishandled micro-blogging campaigns have started to emerge. One recent example has been furniture retailer Habitat, which was forced to issue a public apology on Wednesday after using hashtags mentioning the unrest in Iran to drive Twitter users to its site. The incident has since been blamed on an intern.
However, a number of organisations including the government and the company behind the revamped Woolworths web site have also been promoting Twitter as a business tool this week, and have announced best practice guidelines to using the site to improve customer service and transparency. V3.co.uk talked to both organisations about what they were gaining from their micro-blogging strategies and how best to Tweet.
Ian Green, the digital communications managing editor for 10 Downing Street, said the government was employing Twitter to keep the public informed on the prime minister’s activities and on policy announcements.
Twitter is a good way to give the public “a more personal insight into how Number 10 works”, Green said. “Our overall strategy is to engage with people where they are, not only by expecting them to come to us at the Number 10 web site,” he added.
Because the Prime Minister’s Office is not a commercial organisation, there is no specific “bottom-line” to measure the success of its micro-blogging strategy, but Green said he did use a number of indicators to gauge the effectiveness of Tweeting.
“The number of followers we have is a crude but reasonable general measure,” said Green. “Beyond that we look at click-through from Tweets to sign-posted information and levels of engagement in interactive events such as web chats.”
Green advised organisations deploying a Twitter strategy to inject accounts with personality, but at the same time to assert a certain amount of control over Tweets and to set clear parameters on business objectives for Twitter.
“Keep your voice, identity and judgment consistent,” he advised.
Regarding how much Green had to think about the content of each Tweet, he said, “Tweets are considered carefully, of course, as there are clear risks when communicating on behalf of 10 Downing Street, especially in such an informal medium. Having said that, I don't think the personality of the administration is compromised at all.
“I work closely with other communications colleagues in order to remain informed on key issues but I am trusted to apply the appropriate judgment when interacting with our followers. To date this has served us well."
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