But having said that, I recognize there is enormous pressure to do just that. It’s a reality of busy life isn’t it? We just want somebody to “do it for us.”
Let’s look at the risk of this strategy that I recounted in The Tao of Twitter: I have a friend who had been building a Twitter relationship with a business executive she admired. They had tweeted back and forth a few times and he had provided some helpful career advice to her. When they had a chance to finally meet at a networking event, she introduced herself and was met with a puzzled stare. He had never heard of her before, and sheepishly explained that his PR agency was tweeting for him. Obviously his reputation was ruined for this young woman … and also to all those she talked to about the incident!
In a well-publicized snafu, a PR agency rep tweeting on behalf of Chrysler Corporation sent out this tweet: “I find it ironic that Detroit is known as the #motorcity when no one here knows how to f**cking drive.”
He thought he was tweeting from his personal account but in fact, it came from Chrysler’s Twitter account by mistake. He lost his job and the agency lost the account.
Faking it on Twitter is dangerous business.
But you may be in a situation where you have no other practical choice than to “team-tweet” behind a brand name, then you could outsource or share the tweeting between a few trusted individuals. If you do outsource:
- Be clear and realistic on your objectives.
- Have clear lines of who owns what.
- Have a clear plan for content, tone and frequency.
- Be prepared to take advice and listen to it. Most experts know what they are doing and it’s in their best interests to make it work for you.
Make sure that you have a disaster recovery plan in case of a PR upset. If you’re using an agency, ask them to show you how they are managing your account distinctly from personal/other client accounts, so that tweets aren’t mistakenly sent via the wrong account – easy to do when you’re using a sharing platform. Ask to meet everyone that will be tweeting via your account and create some rules or guidelines for tweeting. Outsourcing doesn’t mean abdicating responsibility – make sure you are involved and holding everyone to account.
Before you outsource, carefully weigh the risks and benefits. One of the biggest opportunities of social media is “humanizing” the brand and even the biggest brands are finding ways to do that successfully. In the long-term, businesses should aim at involving their own employees to be “brand beacons” on Twitter instead of relying on an outside agency.
Illustration: I doctored up an original illustration from BigStock.com