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May 12, 2008

Twitter Policy - Do You Have One In Place?

By Li Evans

Usando mi camisa twitter - Picture by Flickr User: LuisdrkTwitter is growing at a phenomenal pace.  There's no doubt that as more and more companies adopt new communication platforms like Twitter into their marketing strategies, as well as allowing their employees to use them, some rules should be set up along the way.

Back in December I wrote a piece about "Is Twitter Really Dangerous?", which was prompted by Michael Krigsman's "Twitter Is Dangerous" article.  I was reminded of this again, when I happened upon TwitterLocal.net  (shout out to Drew Olanoff for the tip), and I stumbled across a local user in my area, who actually had his own Twitter policy.  He's just an individual blogger, but he has a link right in his profile on twitter to his policy about who he will and won't follow, and what his guidelines are.

I don't want to put a finger on this person, as I believe he does have a right to privacy, but I just found it fascinating that this person actually took the time to write up his own Twitter policy.  Here's just two of his disclaimers:

  • If you’re twittering more than 10 tweets a day, I may have to stop following just so I can keep up with other folks.
  • If you add my feed, I will certainly check to see who you are, but if there’s zero identifying information on your profile, why would I add you back?

And he's got a few guidelines he himself tried to follow:

  • I’ll post links to things only now and then, since I know Twitter is very often used in (and was intended for) mobile contexts; and when I do, I’ll give some context, rather than just “this is cool …”
  • In spite of my best intentions, I’ll probably break these guidelines now and then, but hopefully not too much, whatever “too much” is.

Now why do I find this so fascinating?  Mostly because major brands are out here on twitter and haven't even taken the time to define a Twitter policy. There's a lot of things to consider when you start an account on a place like Twitter or even Facebook or MySpace.  Thinking about the following items might help you come up with a decent Twitter policy that can define it very easily to your audience how you intend to communicate with them.

  • Who will you follow?
  • How do you hold conversations?
  • What will you talk about?
  • Who is the account with? (Who Owns The Account?)
    • Is it a company representative?  If so who's the rep?
    • Is it a number of company representatives?
    • Is it an authorized twitter account from the company?
  • What's the twitter account's purpose?
    • To hold conversations with an audience?
    • Get feedback on products / services?
    • Promote special sales or events?
  • Why do you "unfollow"?
  • How many tweets do you tweet a day?
  • How do you respond to direct messages or replies? (@'s)
  • Do you promote others on twitter?
  • Is your blog part of your twitter account?

As you can see these are just a few things that companies should think about.  Heck, even popular individuals probably should think about having a twitter policy.  This can help to head off a lot of hassles, headaches and misunderstandings a head of time.  It can also lead to a much better conversation with your community if they understand where you are coming from in the first place.

Twitter Art by Flickr User: jmtucuWhen big companies start a Twitter account these days, sometimes its because they see it as the "latest" thing they should be involved in.  Without even thinking about some consequences, before they know it things can spiral out of control. 

Quite the opposite can happen, like in the case of Delta Airlines.  Delta Airlines has a twitter account but it's not the official account from the company.  Its actually kind of sad, because it is such a great tool and it's just an employee, not an "official" channel Delta customer could speak with.  If you are a big brand, or a popular brand, you should at least snag up that twitter account name so well-intentioned employees don't do it for you.

Twitter is a great way to hold a conversation with your community.  A great way to make sure the conversation stays on track and doesn't get derailed or ended, it to put a Twitter Policy in place.

*Twitter Shirt Picture Credit: Luisdrk, Twitter Art Picture Credit:  jmtucu


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What I like about this post is that it encourages people to think about the tool from a strategic point. What am I trying to achieve, how? Very good, Li.

Great post - I'm developing a Twitter and social networking tool policy for Intel. We struggle w/ the gray area between personal and professional communications. As you know, Twitter can be most useful and beneficial when you mix the two and individual employees are participating personally on behalf of the brand.

Question... Who is doing this well?

well i totally agree with you bryan twitter can be most useful and beneficial when you mix the two and individual employees are participating personally on behalf of the brand.

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