We all like Tom Barton; he is responsible for PR within Capgemini UK and the man behind @CapgeminiUKPR. I was discussing our twitter strategy with him last week. We have been on twitter (@ceblog) for about two weeks. When we launched, I followed a regimented consulting approach around account creation, content development, strategy etc. Rather than emulate the 20 page Twitter strategy adopted by the UK Government, I tried to keep it simple but effective.
Twitter is a critical part of our blogging strategy. We blog once a week and it is well read. However, we prefer to have a continuous dialogue with our readers. Twitter allows us to do that. Twitter also allows us to tweet/re-tweet stories that we read but may not necessarily blog about. Some are quirky e.g., launch of the Viagra cocktail or the London shower curtain, while some are a bit more serious e.g. the floating supermarket in Kerala, India. Our follower base is increasing by the day, and now covers the globe from Sydney to San Francisco.
Twitter has emerged as a great social tool and we saw a glimpse of its reach during the Iran elections and the #welovethenhs debates. We have also seen companies get their twitter strategy into a pickle especially when they tried to piggy-backing important events by hash tagging unrelated events. This was the case when Habitat, the UK furniture store tried to hash tag its offers with popular, yet totally unrelated, search terms such as ‘iPhone’ and ‘Iran’, only to get some serious backlash. All our tweets & re-tweets provide a view about marketing, sales, service and customer experience and I hope our readers like these. A good article on how to create brand engagement on twitter is available here.
So where did Tom Barton come into this? When discussing some of the etiquettes around our Twitter usage, Tom touched on a raw nerve. While we agree on some of the basic tenets; e.g. not hash tagging things incorrectly, there is one area which we could not agree upon. Should one have an Auto Direct Message (DM) for new followers? Our auto DM reads “Hi, Thank you for following us. Looking forward to your comments & ideas on our blog”
Tom thinks that having an auto-reply in a social media tool is a bit of a contradiction. Therefore in his mind we should not have an auto-DM thanking people who follow @ceblog, rather it may be better not to send anything or if possible send a personal note. Statistically, there is a body of opinion which agrees with Tom that an auto DM or @ message can be considered as spam. Whenever anyone starts following us, we take the time to review their bios and the links on their Twitter profile. We read their last few tweets and have a peek at their blogs to check our common interest.
We do like the Ten Commandments of Twitter, and are walking up to parts of it. However, Auto DM is a tricky issue. We aim to provide a experience that our followers enjoy. Based on Tom’s advice, we pulled our auto-DM, however, I don’t want our followers to feel left out (or be spammed). Getting a twitter strategy right can be a full time activity and we like to know your views. When you followed us, did you like our auto-DM or did you consider it cold as spam?
PS: Both agree on one thing… We won’t Auto-follow.
(This blog appeared in Capgemini’s Customer Experience Blog in Aug 2009)