If corporate twittering is, essentially, a mix of marcom and PR, who should manage a b-to-b company's Twitter feed? Should top-level executives write it themselves? Should the marketing department? Or should the agency manage the workflow—or at least monitor what is being said about your brand in the Twitterverse?
High-tech PR agency Connect2 works with a variety of clients in developing their Twitter strategies, including telecom vendors Adtran and Acme Packet. In general, the company encourages clients to manage their own social identities online, according to Carmen Harris, senior account manager at Connect2.
Client Adtran (@Adtran) does just that. Gary Bolton, the company's VP of global marketing overseeing the Twitter effort, relies on a business analyst on his team to produce the Twitter posts.
Social media applications like Twitter "are becoming an integral part of our marketing efforts," Bolton said, noting that Twitter helps the telecom vendor "build communities of interest around key applications, market verticals, market requirements and product support, providing real-time input and feedback so we can stay tightly in tune with our markets and customers." In addition, Bolton's group has integrated social media data into its CRM and marketing automation systems to help fine-tune Adtran's campaigns.
Adtran's agency Connect2 follows Adtran's Twitter feed while monitoring what is said about the company on Twitter and other social media platforms. Connect2 also uses its own Twitter account (@Connect2_Comm) to tweet about its clients—for instance, linking to news releases or retweeting press coverage. Finally, the agency's account execs, including Harris (@techprcarm), are active on their personal Twitter accounts, posting a mix of professional and personal items.
While managing a brand environment via a mix of corporate, agency and individual Twitter accounts can be challenging, it represents today's needs where brands require a more human face and people speak for both themselves and companies they represent.
"It is important for PR agencies to keep a clear line between your social identity, that of your agency and that of your clients," said Connect2's Harris. "It is easy to get caught up in trying to push client information on Twitter [but] you don't want to risk using it as another tool to blast people with your client's information and lose yourself in the process." Harris said that when he posts from his personal Twitter account, he is always sure "to let people know that the post is either from or about a client—just to be transparent."