There are only 140 characters to work with, but Twitter Australia managing director Karen Stocks says business leaders must add some personality to their tweets.
“It can be short, it can be sweet, it can have a spelling error or punctuation errors in there as well,” said Stocks at a business luncheon in Sydney yesterday.
“People appreciate that much more than something that’s formal and looks like a press release.”
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Speaking at the American Chamber of Commerce in Australia function, Stokes outlined her tips for business tweeting, encouraging business leaders to follow the lead of Twitter personalities like Richard Branson, Bill Gates and Rupert Murdoch.
“You are the first and last voice of your business. Allow people to hear it,” she said.
Beyond pushing authenticity in tweeting, Stocks also urged business leaders to be on ‘send and receive mode’ when using the medium.
“Don’t focus on what to tweet, also focus on receiving information. Sit there and go, I’m going to be in the receive mode of trying to understand what people are saying about my business that’s relevant to me.”
Stocks also advocates sharing your team’s achievements on Twitter, reading tweets over before pushing the send button and learning the ‘rules of the road’ like other Twitter users.
“Always credit someone, don’t just copy and paste,” she says.
Stocks said leaders need to be reminded that Twitter is not a private venue.
“If you don’t want to stand in the MCG and shout it out or want it printed on every headline or on television, probably don’t tweet it.”
She says at Twitter the company clearly outlines what is ‘tweetable’ and what is not.
Social media expert Catriona Pollard told SmartCompany much like all sensitive business issues, private information must be managed on Twitter.
“Dealing with sensitive business information is nothing new, whether it’s talk at a barbecue or on Twitter, these issues are as old as business itself,” says Pollard.
Pollard says businesses should have clear policies reflected in employee contracts and social media policies; they should also support staff and have faith in their judgement.
“These issues are not new. It’s something business leaders are very familiar with and will find are just as manageable.”
Pollard says she strongly supports Stocks’ advice and hopes it might spur on those business owners who are currently “missing in action on Twitter”.
“I hear executives say they are very stressed for time. That’s where [Stocks] point is very good – even if you feel you don’t have time to tweet, use Twitter as a listening tool.”
“Twitter is the most powerful research tool we have to connect to thinkers in an industry, leaders, customers, people inventing new technology in the industry.”
Pollard, who trains business leaders on the use of social media, says most find they take to the platform with a natural aptitude.
“It’s not just about overcoming resistance. Most executives are smart, good at communication and good at managing stakeholders. Once they get on, they have a lot of fun.”
— Richard Branson (@richardbranson) October 17, 2014