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Five Twitter “Rules of Engagement”

Dear Reader,

Of late I’ve watched several companies start to use twitter without a clue or a strategy. Here are my Five Twitter Rules of Engagement that will help companies get the most value out of twitter. (or at the very least keep them from embarrassing themselves.)

  1. Do not ask for advice that you are not willing or unable to act on.
    I see a lot of companies asking “Tell us how we can make it better”. If you say that, really mean it. If you ask me how to improve your cell-phone design and I tell you it needs to be 1/2 its current size for me to like it, don’t argue with me about it, you asked my opinion. If you can’t make it’s 1/2 the size or worse yet, if you have no intention of making substantial changes in the product based on solicited feedback, just don’t ask.
  2. Be sincere
    This is closely related to #1. When someone criticizes your product, sincerely thank them for taking the time to review your product. Even if all they say is “I f’n hate product X” At least they took the time to look at your product. If you really want to know why, ask them but ask sincerely. If you know why and are already fixing it, let them know. If you know why and can’t/won’t fix it, ignore them. You will not change their mind by arguing for your product in 140 chr. bites. Just let it go, you can’t please everyone.
  3. Engage with a purpose
    Again, closely linked to point #1, make sure that you have a reason to engage someone publicly before engaging. Defend your product and its honor when necessary. However, don’t feel the need to engage or even acknowledge every public tweet. Engage someone when you can make a positive difference in the situation.
  4. Do not argue
    Nobody who seriously wants to engage with your company is interested in arguing with you. If you argue publicly there are really only two outcomes.
    1. The person you are engaging bests you and you look like a fool
    2. You best person you are engaging, they feel like a fool, and they never do business with you.

    If I am your customer and I say your product sucks, don’t argue the point with me. Obviously, I have a reason for thinking this and you need to engage me constructively to find that reason and see if you can correct it.

  5. Move it off-line quickly
    This one is the most important of them all. When someone says that your customer service sucks, don’t publicly acknowledge it, privately acknowledge it and ask how you can help. If you can’t find an email address or IM account for the person, then publicly reply asking them to follow you so you can DM them. Get it out of the public timeline and engage the person one-on-one. If you can solve the problem, do so. Once it is completely solved and you’ve made a new friend, then if you are comfortable with the person, ask them to tweet that they got the problem resolved. Chances are, they are so surprised that they have already done this but you need some closure on the issue publicly. If they don’t feel comfortable announcing the resolution then you can but it has more impact if they do it.

None of this is rocket science so it always astounds me that companies don’t know this stuff. PR departments already know these things but the line level employees don’t. Here’s a clue, the responses from line-level employees are much more effective than the ones being regurgitated out of the PR/Marketing department. Don’t try and clamp down on these people, train them, teach them how to respond and teach them who to go to with issues. Most importantly, teach them these rules of engagement.

Until next time,

One thought on “Five Twitter “Rules of Engagement”

  1. This is a really great article. I hope others heed your advice because it really does matter. I think customer feedback is the single best way to improve products. In this case, the customer *is* always right – because they’re the ones using it!

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