If you’ve been hunting for a hot new job, you’ve probably noticed that lots of companies are looking for someone to oversee their social media presence (check out the job postings below!). These people are called Community Managers (or Social Media Managers), and their job, among other things, is to manage the company’s Twitter account.
Maybe you’re not officially a Community Manager, but if you’re involved in marketing, communications, or customer service—you’ll probably find tweeting as a line in your job description before too long.
But even if you’ve hung out in the Twitterverse for years, when it becomes your job, it’s important to know that tweeting for your company isn’t the same as tweeting for yourself. In fact, a whole new set of rules apply. To get you started, here’s a rundown of corporate Twitter basics.
1. Never Say “I”
When you tweet on behalf of your company, you represent a brand, not yourself. To the extent that the brand has its own personality and voice, you should incorporate that style into your tweets, but be careful about making your company’s account an extension of your personal online presence.
The best way to maintain a brand voice rather than your own is to avoid the first person singular (I, me, my) and stick to first person plural (we, us, our). Why is the royal “we” preferable? Anytime you use “I” in a tweet, your followers can’t help but wonder about the person behind the tweets (here’s a recent example from Starbucks), which can be a distracting experience. People like interacting with their favorite companies online because it makes their connection to the brand more intimate. But by unveiling yourself as an agent of the brand, you can obstruct the connection between your brand and its followers.
2. Establish a Separate Account for Support
As more and more companies go online, Twitter is becoming an increasingly useful platform to resolve customer service issues. Everyone from airlines to cable providers to tax preparation companies is using Twitter to field and respond to customer feedback.
Unfortunately, that feedback isn’t always positive. Sometimes you’ll have to provide technical support, give a customer specific support instructions, or apologize for a bad customer service experience. If you work for a tech company and your latest release has a bug, get ready for a busy day of responding to customer complaints.
The beauty of Twitter is that companies can respond directly to customers in real time—but the downside is that all of those real-time responses will be visible on your company’s profile. And when users visit your brand’s Twitter page, you don’t want them to be greeted with a list of apologies and product malfunctions.
The solution is simple: Create a separate Twitter account to respond to customer support questions or communicate technical issues, while keeping your company’s main account for announcements, content sharing, and retweets of positive feedback. Check out these examples of companies that are doing this well: @Etsy/@EtsyHelp, @instagram/@instagramhelp, @foursquare/@4sqSupport.
3. Schedule Your Tweets
A good Twitter feed has a steady stream of content throughout the day and the week. But if you work 8-to-5 in San Francisco, your East Coast followers have been checking Twitter for hours by the time you get to work. Similarly, a community manager in Manhattan doesn’t want to miss out on engaging with West Coast customers, who’ll be looking for a late afternoon distraction.
This means doesn’t mean you need to work around the clock—it means you need to learn to schedule your tweets. All of the major Twitter clients (TweetDeck, HootSuite, CoTweet) allow you to schedule tweets to be published in the future. (You can also use a standalone product like Twuffer or FutureTweets.) Go one step further and check out Crowdbooster, which gives some really practical analytics that’ll help you determine the best times of day to share your content.
4. Take Care of Influencers
Your goal as a community manager for a company should be to engage with all of your followers, addressing the needs of any customer who contacts you on Twitter. But realistically, there are only so many hours in the day, and you may not get to everyone. So if you have to set priorities, make sure you take care of your influencers—your most active and widely-connected users.
If your company doesn’t have an internal system for tracking customers on social media, you can reference a user’s Klout score to get a rough idea of how influential he or she is online. Some Twitter clients like CoTweet have Klout scores built into the dashboard to make this data readily available as you interact with different users.
5. Don’t Respond to Haters
Twitter is a great platform to respond to legitimate customer service issues, but every so often you’ll encounter someone who is just plain rude. When this happened to me, I sought advice from successful entrepreneurs who had encountered something similar at their companies. All of them had the same advice: If your company is getting cyber-bullied, do not engage with the offending user. Feel free to block the user or report the abuse to Twitter, but don’t waste your time dignifying someone else’s online immaturity with a response from a corporate account. Eventually, most haters give up and go away.
Does managing corporate social media accounts sound like the job for you? Get a peek at a day in the life of a Community Manager on The Muse, then check out some cool companies hiring for social media positions below.