It may sound like a bit of an odd question. Surely it is up to the individual as to whether they decide to join Twitter and start to tweet, or whether they have established a Facebook page and start to post. But for corporate bodies and public figures they rely on the advice and guidance from their public relations advisers and other supporting people about whether to establish a presence on social networks. They also rely on those people to do the tweeting and posting.
The corporate bodies and celebrities have also relied on an army of individuals to tweet or post items on their behalf. Why? Well surely they don’t have the time to actually speak to their fans or supporters – do they? Many don’t try to hide the fact that when ‘they’ are posting items it is clearly not from them or the name on the feed. This might start to change following a decision by Barack Obama this week that he will ‘periodically tweet his own campaign messages’. When he is not tweeting his campaign team will provide updates on the progress of the campaign and the activities they are involved in.
Social media relies on personalities coming through the words and pictures, which helps to start developing conversations and building relationships. This means that corporate bodies and organisations need to find a voice and an identity and that in turn requires those managing the social networks to have a clear approach and strategy.
For those who use social networks as representatives of organisations – like journalists, public sector workers, and police officers – they need to find a way to make their identify and personality shine through. This can be really problematic as many businesses and organisations want to make sure that social media is used in a strictly corporate way. However, those that make social media work do so because they inject some personality into what they are doing, truly developing a conversation.
I have written before about the importance of allowing some freedom to staff that may be allowed to use social media to develop engagement. And also how this requires bosses and public relations professionals to provide support but to also hand over some of the control that they have until recently held centrally. If PC Smith is going to tweet to people in the area they patrol then it should be clear from what is posted that it is from the individual as they are going about their daily businesses. There must never be an attempt to hoodwink people by it being provided by someone else or from the corporate centre.
In all social networking honesty is essential, and nowhere more so than in who is doing the tweeting or posting. So, it is a positive step forward to hear that Barack Obama is taking a new approach to his use of Twitter, and we can only hope that we can see it happening in other places. Surely, the celebrities and high-profile individuals could have more impact if they really were behind what they said on social networks. Some already do a great job of using social media including Formula 1 driver Heikki Kovalainen and comedian Ross Noble. Let us hope that more will look at those that do it well and take a fresh approach to social media.
For all of us that are working with individuals in a corporate environment, we can give them the support and training to allow them to flourish on social media. Yes, their activity needs to be corporate and it needs to fit within the procedures and processes in place, but doing it with individuality and personality is essential. So when we ask who should tweet the answer is clear – it should be you.