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Tweeter Content Types(Read time = 3-4 minutes)  In many companies, after initial social media discussions result in Twitter engagement, the conversation turns to the “approval gate”.  Whether governance is driven by a management or legal process, questions related to Twitter boundaries are sure to quickly surface.  Here, we explore one approach: grouping tweets by content type, as a means to thread the approval needle.   Even if your situation doesn’t demand the rigor of legal review, there’s useful learning possible.  Would welcome any inputs others could share. 

The set-up:  Most social media policies/practices evolve from existing Public Relations/Analyst Relations guidelines.   While a very reasonable starting point, these inherently carry a process driven thru some corporate legal step to validate claims, monitor information for appropriate disclosure, etc.  with reviews not optimized for the real-time nature of Twitter communication.

The goal:  Evolve guidelines which permit real-time, marketing  participation (on most fronts) while setting practical boundaries that safeguard companies from inappropriate disclosure. For this discussion, we’ll avoid content and issues around earnings, acquisitions and other such investor relations topics subject to SEC rules/regulations.

Definition:  “Trusted Contributor”: The solution proposed below has, as an embedded concept, the idea of a pre-approved Twitter user.  In traditional AR/PR schools this would be a “spokesperson”.  For social media, the idea of “trusted contributor” is more useful as that implies breadth not just blessing.  To be most useful, marketing conversations must be real-time or near that.

The solution proposed: Pre-approved, “Trusted Contributor” list (backstopped by training) and a “Tweet Content Category” taxonomy that can serve as a roadmap for marketing to understand what can be communicated and what would require a formal review step.

“No Touch” Approval: Group One

Example: Re-tweets with no original Content  One of your marketing partners, or a customer, tweets news or a sales promotion or their attendance at an upcoming tradeshow.  A re-tweet of this type content can be likened to dropping a link onto your website pointing to useful content originated by others.

*  Owner – Product Marketing and/or the Marcom, PR/AR teams, etc. depending on the re-tweet content and origination source.

*  Goal – Partner support, Twitter account cadence (useful as a means to build a Follower list), and to sustain appropriate marketing conversations.

*  Approval Bar – Minimal/none for approved Twitter users, w/in established spokesperson boundaries.

Example: Re-tweets with added Commentary   A  customer/partner tweets their attendance at an upcoming tradeshow.  You want to promote your company’s attendance as well; or there’s a news announcement about a product that your company helps enable. You want to both support the original tweet + add a comment or your related content.

*  Owner – Product Marketing and/or the  Marcom teams in support of Marketing.

*  Goal – Partner support, Twitter account cadence (useful as a means to build a Follower list), and to sustain appropriate marketing conversations.

*  Approval Bar – Minimal/none for approved Twitter users, w/in established spokesperson boundaries.

Example: Product/Brand Marketing Tweets  Tweets relating to a specific product launch or technology announcement. 

*  Owner – Product Marketing and/or the Marcom team supporting Marketing

*  Goal – Sustaining the real-time social media conversation, responding to business-ordinary questions, marketing/sales dialogue.

*  Approval Bar – Minimal/none for approved Twitter users, w/in established spokesperson boundaries.

 “Normal Touch” Approval: Group Two

Example: Product Marketing PR/AR Tweets  Tweets relating to the issuance of formal news, media briefings, market/industry analyst briefings.

*  Owner – Respective PR/AR leads

*  Goal – Support traditional PR/AR communications, add rich-media resources, encourage reporting and coverage.

*  Approval Bar – The PR/AR process, likely to include legal reviews.

Example:  Customer Service Tweets  Example – an end customer or other downstream audience member tweets (either directly or indirectly) about a specific product problem and/or service requirement.

*  Owner – Normal customer service channel/function w/in your company

*  Goal – Appropriate customer service

*  Approval Bar – Normal , ordinary customer service process and  guidelines

Example:  Corporate PR/HR/Philanthropic Tweets  Example – the company organizes a Volunteer Day with very positive results.  In addition to publicity locally, in company newsletters and perhaps a formal news release, Twitter is used to further spread the positive word.

*  Owner – Owners of the news and/or event

*  Goal – Spread of positive corporate news, recruitment, building brand equity

*  Approval Bar – Normal, ordinary process and guidelines

 “High Touch” Approval Group Three

Example: Investor Relations Tweets  Announcement of an earnings call, financial results or news pertaining to an acquisition.

*  Owner – Owners of the investor relations function

*  Goal – Appropriate information disclosure

*  Approval Bar – High, guidelines with a particular eye toward SEC regulation, disclosure and discovery.

In Summary  The idea presented hopes to suggest a means for Marketing to participate in the real-time stream while preserving an appropriate review process.  Twitter training is a critical component, as is a process for regular social media discussion and best practice discussion.  There is a presumption that spokespersons will behave rationally and generally do the right thing.  A collaboration between the Marketing, Marcom, AR-PR and Legal teams is the desired outcome.

By the way, please tweet this – no approval necessary!



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