Using Twitter for an organisation like e-IRG
Tweeting for an organisation is different from tweeting from a personal account. On an organisation's account you are mostly putting messages together with several colleagues into one twitter stream. The 13 rules to follow - or to break if you know what you are doing.
1. Egoless tweeting
Twitter is mostly used by persons, individuals. If you tweet as a person, it is you who is creating a time line of tweets and people are interested in what you have to say. In general it is about interaction. If you have a lot of followers, you, in general, also follow a lot of persons on twitter. Unless you are a celebrity of course, then you have many more followers than you follow back.
If you tweet for an organisation it is different. It is you who is hitting the keys on your computer or smartphone, but it is not you who is tweeting: It is the organisation. So first thing to do is to set aside your ego. Tweet about what is important for your organisation to tweet about. Your tweets should in principle be indistinguishable from the tweets your colleagues tweet when tweeting on behalf of the organisation.
2. Tweeting for an organisation is not producing blue sky tweets
Tweets are light weight with 140 characters, perhaps a picture and a link. For an organisation it is a tool, a communication tool. But one that can only be used to achieve specific communication goals. Hence you do not retweet this nice funny tweet you just read, you do not tweet about the nice beer you just had. Unless it fits the communication goal set out for this Twitter feed.
3. It is a tweet, not a book
If it does not fit 140 characters do not use Twitter. Write a book, create a poster, publish an article, give a presentation, but do not tweet. Do not tweak it. Do not use two tweets (numbered 1 and 2) or put the rest of a tweet in a tweet extender. It is not what twitter is good at. It can create confusion. If tweet number 2 shows up in a search result out of context with tweet nr. 1 it may look odd, or even offensive. Do not use an image to extend the twitter message beyond 140 characters.
4. Tell something useful
If you are in a workshop or conference, do not tweet "Now x is on stage at the workshop" Big deal. No info at all if you have read the workshop programme. Adding an image is nice, but does not tell much more. If x tells something interesting, you can tweet about that. Perhaps with a picture of what is on screen. Giving a link to more info on what x does, or to the abstract or slides is OK.
5. Use links
Tweeting for an organisation is mainly informative, it is not about feeling blue, cold, or having a headache. If it is informative there is often a lot more about it. Give a link in a tweet to an interesting article, video, slides, or website. Try to include a link in each Tweet. If you cannot, most likely the tweet is not interesting and you should not send it at all.
6. Use images
Although 140 characters can say more than 14.000 pictures, it still can be useful to add an image or picture if you have one that explains a bit more about what you want to say. Use specific pictures. Avoid stock images. Everyone is using stock images which leads to the same stock image used for many different tweets. Perhaps your organisation does not want to be associated with a number of them.
7. Retweet with care
Twitter is a social media. Hence some level of interaction with other tweets can be good. If you do so, however be careful. It is not you who is retweeting, but your organisation. So do not retweet opinions of others, unless it serves a purpose. Do not retweet one person of one other organisation too much. There are some people who are very good at tweeting. Hence it is tempting to just retweet (almost) anything they tweet. Do not. Just let your followers also follow this tweet. This also holds for other organisations. Do not retweet almost all tweets from say one group in the European Commission, because they are active in the same field. Try to find a balance. Retweet a variety of tweets. Pay special attention to your followers in this respect.
8. Do not retweet retweets
If a retweet is interesting, look at the original tweet and retweet that tweet if it is of interest. If a retweet contains new interesting views, you can consider retweeting the retweet. But in general that retweet contains an opinion which you should not retweet.
9. Tweet regularly
Twitter is not something you can look at once, put out a 100 tweets, and then do not look at it for months. It is a social medium, so it needs som continuity. For the @eirgeu account we try to have on average one tweet per working day. Except when there is an e-IRG related event, then we have many more.
10. Try to show who is tweeting
Although you do egoless tweeting, it still is good to try to indicate who actually did write a tweet. We use ^xx where xx are the initials for that. It adds to the transparency and it can also help in becoming more egoless in your tweeting.
11. Look at the twitter stream before tweeting
If you see something interesting to tweet about, your colleague can be ahead of you, even by seconds only. So first look at the organisation's twitter stream and only then hit send. If you later on see there are two almost identical tweets, delete yours.
12. Monitor the impact
What is happening with your tweets? How many impressions do they get? How many times are they retweeted? Are they retweeted for the right reasons by the right people? How many followers does the organisation have? Are these the right followers? In summary: does the twitter feed fullfil the organisation's communication goal with it?
13. Tweeting is fun
If you do not like twitter, do not use it. Let some of your other colleagues do it. Certainly there is a lot of other communication work that can be done.