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Transparency pitfalls in Twitter

September 25, 2011

There is no question that a learning curve exists when venturing into new social media territory. As an arts organization eager to get out there and participate in anything and everything, it is likely that pitfalls will be encountered along the way.

When we first set up @chancentre on Twitter a couple of years ago, we were literally told to just “jump in there” and “figure it out.” One of the first things I remember doing was visiting the Twitter page of a respected colleague working for Theatre at UBC (@theatreUBC), Deb Pickman, and literally studying her profile and tweets to get a sense of how to get started. What I liked about Deb’s Twitter feed was that it wasn’t anonymous. It would’ve been easy for her to just call the feed “Theatre at UBC” and tweet anonymously on behalf of the company, but she identified herself by her name and I believe also by her title, Communications Manager. Gasp! (Note: I believe she has refined her profile and no longer includes the title or perhaps my memory is fuzzy and I viewed the title elsewhere.)

I appreciated Deb’s honesty, though, and thought that our audience would also like to know who they were hearing from on behalf of the Chan Centre when reading our tweets. Of course, we bashed out a quick strategy – again, not knowing much about Twitter – primarily that we would do our best to not just push tickets for upcoming shows but that we would try to become a resource for our followers regarding all things Chan Centre, performing arts and UBC. I guess we sensed the relationship building aspect even though we didn’t realize this was what we were doing at the time!

Recently, I was reading about transparency and Twitter on Scott Stratten’s blog (author of UnMarketing: Stop Marketing. Start Engaging). Scott discusses yet another transparency pitfall that likely befell many initial Twitter sign-ups – the notion of auto-following. In his post he discusses how he traded “authenticity for automation” and that many people mistakenly believed that he had chosen to follow them and they were artificially flattered by his response. Scott realized by automating this process he was missing out on the personal connection aspect that makes Twitter (and social media in general) so unique. It is important that organizations take the time to ensure that an actual human being is coming through in tweets, posts, etc. and that engaging back shouldn’t be automated but should be the result of a genuine, human interaction.

How do automated follows and/or auto DM’s thanking you for following make you feel? Do you really believe that a human being has followed you or sent you a message or are you instantly suspicious? Does this suspicion translate over to your experience with the brand or person you thought you were following?


From → Social Media

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