6 Reasons Your Organization Should Get a Twitter Account

Nancy asks:

I’m trying to convince my boss we need to start a twitter account and she’s not convinced. My main argument has been that it would increase our exposure on the web through our links on twitter. Can you help me make a better case?

I saw your slide presentation on slide share on Making the Case for Social Media but it didn’t get to exactly what I need (or I missed it).

And on the slight chance that we do get to start twitter, what can I do to build a following?

Here are my top six reasons why organizations should have a branded Twitter account:

Brand Protection. If you claim your organization’s name on Twitter, others can’t. One headache you don’t want is having someone impersonating your organization on Twitter. Claiming your Twitter handle is a good step, even from a purely defensive perspective.

Scalability. You can have a Twitter account without putting a lot of human resources into it. It’s reasonable at first to use a service that converts the RSS feed of your news releases into tweets, without any additional human involvement. You do have RSS feeds, right? If not, see the Social Media 102 course, and also my third reason.

Serving stakeholders. A non-human Twitter account connected to an RSS feed isn’t ideal, but like RSS it does at least provide a way for people interested in your news to get it in a way that’s convenient for them. And as you become more familiar with Twitter, it can lead to a much better use, Listening and Engagement, which I list as my last reason.

Increased News Coverage. Journalists are increasingly involved in Twitter, and looking to it as a quick way to identify sources and story ideas. Here’s a portion of an email one of my colleagues got in late October from @KimPainter, a columnist with USA Today (click to enlarge):

KimonTwittersource

Kim had seen one of our @MayoClinic tweets connected to our #mayoradio program called Mayo Clinic Medical Edge Weekend. We got her in touch with Dr. Richard Hurt, who was the guest on that program, and here is Kim’s column in USA Today in which he was featured.

It’s Free. Nothing I have mentioned above involves any cash. Your Twitter account is free. Twitterfeed to convert your RSS feed to tweets also is free. But even if you have to manually send tweets about your news, and including a link to your news releases, the time investment can be minimal. It doesn’t involve incremental cash outlays. If you’re like most organizations, you probably pay EurekAlert or PR Newswire or BusinessWire to distribute your news releases. If you are paying for those services, why wouldn’t you take advantage of a free tool like Twitter?

Listening and Engagement. The preceding reasons provide more than enough justification for getting a corporate Twitter account, but engaging stakeholders and listening to them is the best use for Twitter. For that reason, whether your boss approves a corporately branded Twitter account or not, I strongly suggest that you get your own personal Twitter account. Just dive in and start making connections. As you are using Twitter personally, you will see applications that are relevant to your work.

If you have questions about how to get started with Twitter, we have a whole Twitter curriculum here on SMUG to take you through the process. To answer your last question about building a following, see Twitter 103: Following and Being Followed, and Twitter 104: Four Steps to Building Your Personal Twitter Network.

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5 thoughts on “6 Reasons Your Organization Should Get a Twitter Account”

  1. This is a field of dreams web 1.0 mentality!

    I get protecting brand real estate to a certain extent… however that is not even a requirement! Look at all of the NHL teams that had to modify user names. If you don’t offer actual value good luck, because there is no point. You can’t just go its free its easy were awesome.. because that doesn’t work. Too many brands are “using twitter” and sucking at it.

    Some brands shouldn’t go social at all because they don’t want to make the investment. It takes man hours, a strategy and a social philosophy with guidelines. None of this is just build it they will come… Start with a purpose and get a twitter account…not get a twitter account then a purpose. I have to totally disagree!

    Blogs, Facebook pages, twitter accounts, etc… should all follow these rules!

  2. Thanks for your comment, Mike. I think you’re taking me out of context, however. This was in the context of someone who wants to start a Twitter account but is having difficulty getting internal buy-in. I’m suggesting a path that could help their organization get into Twitter incrementally, starting by preventing brand-jacking. I believe preventing brand-jacking is a good enough reason to start, unless of course you don’t have a brand worth stealing.

    I think you’re making the perfect the enemy of the good, that if an organization isn’t ready to “use Twitter” in exactly the way a conversational purist would prefer, they should stay out.

    I completely agree that getting engaged and conversational is the direction you want to move, and I think that for most organizations the experience they will have from “just starting” will move them in that direction eventually.

    I gave Nancy some arguments she could make in support of her aim. I’m confident she would have the personal commitment to make the effort successful. I’m just trying to help her get over the hump, so to speak.

    Why would you presume that news from her organization on Twitter wouldn’t add value? She was coming from an academic hospital that presumably has research findings that would be interesting to many people? Should she only have it on her Web site, and make it easy for people to opt in for alerts?

    I think it’s time for me to write my post about Thesis 14. 😉

  3. I’d still suggest that anyone even trying to move slowly have a strategic end goal…In that context your post makes much more sense… I get the internal pressure argument.

    There is also always the philosophy of its easier to ask for forgiveness then permission (not that I’d ever advocate that 😉 ] .

    Also I’d argue that there are some organizations that can outright ignore social environments because it would be a distraction.

  4. Fair enough. I agree that those starting a Twitter account for an organization should have some goal in mind, but that goal can change over time.

    I have sometimes taken the “proceed until apprehended” approach as well. 😉

    And I agree some organizations can ignore social environments, just as some can get by without a telephone, but I think those organizations are going to be in the minority.

    No one should get into social media unwillingly. If you do, you won’t do it well. But for people who have a desire and commitment, I see my role as helping them make the argument. My experience is that most of them have enough people on the inside making the arguments against.

    I really appreciate the dialogue here. Good points to keep in mind.

    Thanks again, Mike!

  5. Every organization should set up a Twitter account. Whether or not you are ready to jump in and/or have a strategy. It’s super important to protect your brand on Twitter and at the very least throw your logo on the profile, write a mini-bio and put a logo to your web site.

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