Why a Fortune 500 company must use Twitter to engage, not broadcast

A combination of awaiting a delivery from a well-known Swedish furniture brand, building work at Southerly HQ and industrial action by the Rail, Maritime and Transport Union has seen me working from home more times than normal over the past week or so.

On the first occasion I was confined to barracks, my Lack wall shelves and two Hemnes mirrors arrived before Breakfast had finished on BBC1, which probably explains the absence of a side order of meatballs with the delivery.

But having settled down in front of my Apple Macbook with the TV still on at the other end of my office-cum-living room, I was distracted by Helicopter Heroes.

I think I like this show because I am a very nervous flyer and would be absolutely petrified if I was ever forced to go in a helicopter, so I have every admiration for anyone who spends their working life in a whirlybird. Not only that, this particular episode was following an air ambulance crew in Yorkshire and featured an incident that took place in Huddersfield – the town where I went to university 20-odd years ago. Happy days!

I was soon forced back to my computer screen because the broadcasts that followed Helicopter Heroes annoy me so much that I find myself shouting at the telly on the rare occasions I find myself watching them. For what it’s worth, I think shows like Homes Under The Hammer, Flog It!, Don’t Get Done Get Dom, Bargain Hunt and Escape To The Country explain why the UK’s unemployment figure is so low.

When I was ‘between jobs’ a couple of years ago, I stepped up my efforts to find employment after just three weeks because I found myself plotting to commit extremely wicked and cruel acts against Tim Wonnacott.

Until now, Mr Wonnacott and the BBC weren’t aware – and still probably don’t care – that the bulk of the Beeb’s daytime output makes me shout at the telly because broadcast media is not designed as a two-way engagement tool. And in any case, if I don’t like the TV or radio show I am watching or listening to I have a simple option – switch off or change channel.

Fortune 500 companies should keep online conversations flowing

But what concerns me is too many followers of other big brands’ social media channels are switching off or changing channel because the owners of these platforms that are designed to promote two-way engagement are treating them as broadcast media.

And I’m not alone, it seems. In Gary Vaynerchuk’s bestselling book Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook – which is now much more accessible in Southerly HQ thanks to the recent work to increase our office space – the social media expert says: “The main mistake most marketers make is to use Twitter primarily as an extension of their blog, a place to push a link to content they have posted elsewhere.”

So how can a Fortune 500 company use Twitter as an engagement tool, rather than a broadcast mechanism?

First, treat Twitter in the same way as you would a real-life social gathering that you are attending as the sole representative of your company. This isn’t your average corporate function attended by a few hundred people from the business community but the largest party you’ve ever been to with a guest list of many thousands, if not millions, of people from all walks of life.

You haven’t a hope of engaging with everyone at this mass gathering, so before you walk through the doors of this mega party go through the guest list and identify the influential people you want to make a good impression on.

When you enter the party venue (or, in the case of Twitter, log into the company account) search out the people on your hit list of influencers.

It’s never easy finding the people you want to get your message across to. You could grab a megaphone, head to the main stage of the party and broadcast your message to the party audience, but this type of behaviour is more likely to alienate the influencers you want to get on the good side of, rather than engage them. And the same is true of Twitter. Attending a recent talk of his, the aforementioned Guru Gary Vaynerchuk opined that Twitter Search could in fact be the most useful and necessary URL for marketers in the entirety of the internet. He’s not wrong.

The rules of engagement online mirror those of real life. A far better way to behave at the mega party is to grab a glass of wine and mingle. And the same is true of Twitter (but I’d advise to leave the wine alone when engaging online).

Before I go off and do a spot of mingling myself, I’d like to sign off by saying it was great to meet you and I’ll be returning on Friday with more advice on how a Fortune 500 company can use Twitter as an engagement tool, but in the meantime please follow @SoutherlyComms because we will be tweeting more advice over the next few days.

You can also download our free whitepaper below that contains some useful advice on how to use social media as part of your content marketing strategy.

Now, where did I put that glass of wine?

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