Used intelligently, social media undoubtedly provide a powerful means of disseminating and receiving information. The advent of instant messaging, notably Twitter, has facilitated global communication on an unprecedented scale – enabling individuals and companies to talk instantly to anything from one person to many millions of followers.
For companies, Twitter is now a virtually indispensable element in the communication mix. It provides probably the fastest means of alerting followers to corporate news items, product updates, key appointments and thought leadership. For example, an announcement via Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook may well have drawn you to read this post – and possibly even within minutes of its publication on the web.
The key to making Twitter a successful outward communication tool is twofold: you must have something of value to communicate, and you must have followers who can benefit in some way from the information you impart. Remember that communication is a two-way process, and that you can also benefit from the inward flow of information from clients, competitors, the media, government and other sources.
The difficulty is selecting the right people to follow. Unfortunately, many Tweets fail the ‘who cares?’ test, and I for one don’t have time to wade through a blow-by-blow account of some people’s (and some companies’) daily existence. On the other hand, news affecting my business – or my clients’ – is either commercially valuable or at least useful knowledge.
Unless you can employ a full-time social media executive to monitor this traffic, you can waste a great deal of time on Twitter if you follow too many of the ‘wrong’ people. The best system is to build your ‘following’ list slowly, adding perhaps two or three at a time – and ruthlessly using the ‘unfollow’ option if they aren’t adding value for the space their Tweets occupy in your timeline.
You need followers, too, so use every available means to encourage the people you want to follow you. Put reminders on corporate stationery as well as on your website – and remember to use the links now available across several social media services to broaden your distribution.
If you are reading this because you are already among my followers, connections or friends and saw the Tweet, then I hope you get some real benefit from reading my blog. If you have found the blog through other routes, I’d be delighted to welcome you to my followers. In either case, I can promise that my Tweets will be limited to worthwhile news and comment.
David Goddin was born in the UK and educated in South Africa. He began his career on daily newspapers and trade journals, before moving into public relations consulting. He produced award-winning writing and became an Accredited PR Practitioner, the highest qualification of the Public Relations Institute of South Africa. Since his return to the UK 17 years ago he has also contributed to a number of highly successful PR and marketing communications campaigns for major national and multinational clients. He is currently also President of the Haslemere & District Chamber of Trade & Commerce.