MARIA OGNEVA'S BLOG
Hello, and welcome to my blog and the digital home for my thoughts. Most know me as @themaria, my handle across most social media sites and communities. My actual, given name is Maria Ogneva, and I love writing, traveling, eating, and spending time with my new husband.
I am passionate about how social media is changing the way we communicate, help and relate to each other, share news and make the world a smaller, more hospitable place. I work at Salesforce as Director of Product Marketing on the Communities product, where my job is to help customers (and the world at large) to be successful in building communities. I learn every day, and I share my thoughts and personal growth here.
Please note that the views expressed here are my own, and do not reflect those of my employer or any of our clients.
As social media has been catching on and commanding mainstream attention, as legions of folks started following the tweeting Oprah and Ashton Kutcher, businesses have started to adopt social media into their marketing, PR and operations mix. Because social media is not a silo, but rather cuts across multiple organizational silos and departments (if that’s not your social media approach, you are doing it wrong), oftentimes there is more than one Twitter account tweeting on behalf of a company. Some companies like Zappos, have several accounts for various people and functions, such as @Zappos, @Zappos_Service, @inside_zappos etc (additionally lots of Zappos employees tweet on their own). Some other companies like Ford and Dell are represented by its employees. When several employees represent a company, the nomenclature varies widely: some append the company name to their own name (such as ComcastBonnie and RichardAtDell), while some other ones like Scott Monty are just themselves. Comcast has an interesting approach with its chief social media person, Senior Director of Customer Service Frank Eliason, aka ComcastCares; it’s a Comcast account, but it’s very much about Frank, and is written in Frank’s voice. The reality is, there is no one set approach, and each company should adopt what works for it.
Committed to thought leadership in the social media sphere, we decided to run our own experiment to see what works for a company like ours. Here’s some background: we have our main Twitter account from which we engage with social media measurement professionals and thought leaders, tweet about interesting company news and share industry articles. The goal for this Twitter account is boosting awareness, building and strengthening relationships and establishing thought leadership – in other words, big picture, “marketing” stuff. There is also a more tactical side of Twitter. Although social media purists tend to cringe at the notion of using Twitter for lead generation, the ability to be helpful (not spammy) by reaching out to folks who are looking for products like yours, is starting to come front and center as more businesses enter the realm. The reality is that awareness, long-term engagement and producing quality content, will probably do more for your business in the long term than any tactical lead harvesting. But businesses, especially the ones with robust sales forces, want to see leads, and they want to act on them immediately. So just about any business has two major objectives for social media engagement: the long-term, big picture stuff and shorter term tactical stuff. And this is where the art of a social media ambassador within any organization comes to shine: how do you keep all groups happy without compromising either mission?
I am not opposed to promotional and lead gen tweets coming from any company account, but there has to be a balance of these tweets to tweets that aren’t so focused on your company. I cringe when I see those types of tweets exceed 30% (this is a very generous allowance), and everyone has his / her own level of tolerance. Needless to say, I wasn’t comfortable with the Biz360 corporate account reaching out to 20+ people per day, offering to help them with a demo or answer questions as they evaluate various platforms; it’s OK to do a couple, but not more. Ryan and I started to think about the best way to separate the two voices, without necessarily severing the link between the two. The options directly in front of us were: 1) transitioning all the tactical and sales gen leads to the sales team, while we keep doing the longer term stuff, or 2) creating a new Twitter account just for sales to access as a team via Co-Tweet. Since we hadn’t seen #2 done well, we decided to experiment with it, although we had concerns about people wanting to interact with a company avatar (I have the same concerns about tweeting as @Biz360, which is why Ryan and I do a lot of our outreach through our personal brands). After we created the account, trained the sales team, and set them up on Co-Tweet, the strangest (but expected) thing happened. People did not want to interact with them the same way as they wanted to interact with the salespeople themselves. The same tweet sent from a sales rep’s personal account went a lot further than a tweet from a company account. This was a fascinating and eye-opening piece of news that actually proved exactly what we thought: people want to interact with people, not company avatars.
As much as this finding can help companies fine-tune their approach, it also creates some challenges, which must be carefully thought through and addressed:
How do you use Twitter for your business? Do you have a corporate account? Does anyone tweet from his / her own account? Which groups tweet? What processes do you have in place to streamline and share information?
Photo credit: viveee