How Communications Professionals Should Approach Twitter

Back in December, I was asked to record a short piece on Twitter for an internal training course. Considering just how many people from Fleishman-Hillard and iStudio are on Twitter, I was pretty surprised – and flattered – especially when you consider how bearish I am on the platform.

Just to remind you, I am “short” on Twitter.

If you would like to see an Englishman who talks far too fast and far too quietly mumble away about the latest shiny object in the world of social media, please hit play on the YouTube video below. The transcript (what I was reading from directly) is pasted below in a futile attempt to boost my search traffic.

PS – I have no idea what was going on with my hair that day…hope you like the robot.

Ed Lee on Twitter

There’s been a lot of buzz about a new breed of Web services called “micro blogs” – publishing platforms that allow messages of up to 140 characters. These microblogs have been lauded by some as the next big thing in online communications but derided by others as a huge waste of time. As with the advent of the blogging platform, many individuals are using this new technology to create powerful personal brands for themselves, but how should a business approach using a Twitter, Pownce or Jaiku?

Some businesses, like the Internet service provider ComCast and the online shoe store Zappos are using Twitter to connect with their customers and offer additional channels for customer service.

The computer manufacturer, Dell, is using Twitter to spread special offers on its restored hardware – and has generated more than a million dollars in revenue to date.

But what should your clients be considering? After all, microblogging is still a nascent medium and one that is yet to hit critical mass outside of the “early adopter” niche.

At iStudio, we approach every new technology the same:

Look for conversations about our clients, their competitors and their industry

Listen to these conversations and the key influencers

Learn about the community’s wants and needs

Lead the conversation with relevant content: either by reaching out to influencers or by joining and getting involved directly.

If you’re asked whether your client should be using Twitter, we advise you to use Forrester Research’s POST approach. POST stands for:

People – who is your client trying to reach

Objectives – what will your client say when it has reached its audience

Strategy – how will your client develop its relationship with these people, once it has reached them

Technology – what technology or channel will you use

As you can see, technology is the final part of the jigsaw. So if a client asks you about microblogging, ask them what want to achieve.


7 Responses to How Communications Professionals Should Approach Twitter

  1. Brendan says:

    Absolutely right about the technology being the last part! Objectives, strategy and audience are what drive this, as should be the case with all comms. Twitter is just a tactic.

  2. Parker says:

    “If a client asks you about (insert fancy tool here), ask them what they want to achieve” = great statement, Ed.

    I think that a bigger problem than the hair is the fact that you were doing a bit of nose-mining in the final few seconds of the video.

  3. […] This is often followed by the skeptical “What’s it for?” Essentially this is the same as asking “What is a website for?”, which in turn is like asking what is a phone for? Well, it’s for communicating. What, specifically? Well, anything, generally! Ed Lee gives some timely advice on how to decide when to use Twitter. […]

  4. Ed Lee says:

    Parker – thanks for the tip off. I have edited the nose mining out but will be leaving your comment intact to preserve the memory of my lapse in concentration!

  5. Laura says:

    Hi Ed,

    I’m currently a post-graduate PR student and many of our conversations are increasingly focusing on social media. I have read quite a few of your posts and I find your discussions of social media very helpful! In class we often discuss social media, but we rarely get into detail about how to use it as a tactic.

    Your explanation of how you approach technology – Look, Listen, Learn and Lead- really clarified and summarized how social media can be a very useful PR tactic. Your explanation of the POST approach also helped clarify where technology and social media fit into the overall communications strategy.

    You provided some great insight to a PR student who’s foundering a bit with social media and its place in PR! Thank you!

  6. […] How Communications Professionals Should Approach Twitter « Blogging Me Blogging You Excellent – and timely – piece on when to use Twitter. (tags: forblog strategy twitter microblogging edlee bloggingmebloggingyou) […]

  7. Molly says:

    Thanks for this… I’m in my mid-twenties (prime ‘tweeting’ age), most of my friends are on Twitter, and I still refuse. But at least I now understand the rationale for the site.
    PS- I like the robot.

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