Is your company ready for Twitter?

There has been alot of talk recently about companies and brands using Twitter to connect with their audience. Jeremiah Owyang has written a brilliant piece reflecting on the stages a brand should go through before getting themselves onto Twitter. There’s been alot of talk about whether brands should in fact be on Twitter at all.

According to research by Emergence Marketing, around 60% of companies are not ready to engage with social media, letalone Twitter. The article estimates that somewhere between 60-75% of companies are spying on their employee’s use of the internet whilst at work, and makes the point:

If you cannot trust your employees to do the right surfing, then how can you trust them to engage in social media on your behalf?

Simply, you can’t. And this is one of the hurdles businesses need to overcome if they are looking to enter the realms of social media. You must trust your employees to know how your business needs to position itself, the tone of voice that suits and how you want people that you’re approaching to perceive you.

Much of this perception can be derived from the brand’s name, be it in your local high street, or globally. You tend to want to stick with it on business cards, shop fronts and websites because it says alot about you. So you want to extend this out to Twitter, or LinkedIn, or Xing. What though, if you can’t and you become the victim of Twittersquatting (this is someone taking your comany’s name purely because you haven’t already)?

Erik Heels points out in a blog post, that 93 of the top 100 companies in the world, don’t own thier Twitter names. It might be advisable to check that yours hasn’t already been taken – go on, do it now, i’ll put a brew on.

So was it taken? No? Good, sign up and have a think. Do you really need to use Twitter? Remember, this isn’t a case of getting your Twitter name and using it for the sake of it.

Dave Fleet makes a compelling case that sometimes, social media just isn’t for you or your brand and asks us to question several things:

If you’re not ready to engage yet, my advice would likely be (all other things being equal) to listen and learn from what your customers are saying:

* Who is talking about you?
* Where are they talking about you?
* What do they like?
* What do they hate?

And Dave makes it clear that:

Social media isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution to your problems. Don’t listen to anyone who tells you it is.

And he’s right.

But just because you’re not ready to step into the social media pond right now, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t protect your brand from being harmed by those who are. It’s the same as if someone started trading under a name similar to yours. If you are Joe Bloggs Ltd, but your competitor registers as Jo Blogs Ltd and starts doing a bad job, it can give your company, purely as an accidental consequence, a bad name. This is why many big companies buy up all of the website domains that are closely linked to their name, so that if somebody wanted to, they couldn’t buy BBC.com and use it to be nasty to BBC.co.uk.

Protection of a brand should be a main priority for any company, and that goes across Google to an ad in the local Post Office window. Social media is just one of the many tools that are at our disposal to do this, and used correctly, there are many benefits. Have a read of the articles cited above and (now you’ve got Twitter covered) you can make the first tentative steps to keeping your brand safe online.

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