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Twitter Guide

Due to popular demand, Marketing is making most of its “Very Necessary Twitter Guide For Canadian Marketers” available for download.
This version of the editorial package features five pages of exclusive content with socially savvy subject-matter experts such as Jason Sweeney (@sween), Mitch Joel (@mitchjoel), Amber MacArthur (@ambermac) and Ed Lee (@edlee), as well as a straight-forward-but-essential Dos and Don’ts list.
Download “The Very Necessary Twitter Guide for Canadian Marketers” here.

Twitter were a real-life party, the average Canadian marketerwould be the one standing alone in the corner. He’s often thefirst one to arrive to stake out his position in the crowd. Buthe’s not quite sure what to do while he’s there. Should he waitfor someone to talk to him? Or should he strike up a conversationwith other partygoers? Should he carefully listen to whatpeople are saying and interject when the timing’s right?Some of the other guests wonder why he bothers showingup if he isn’t there to socialize. But it always seems like a goodidea at the time, because he’d rather be there doing nothing,than on the outside looking in.When it comes to the adoption of a new platform or technology,Canadian marketers are often there—like with Twitter.But five years after the site first hit the scene, marketers arestill standing in the corner. Some companies don’t know whatto do with it, how often to use it, how to respond to mentions,how often to respond to mentions, or who should even run the corporateTwitter account.When it comes down to it, Canadian businesses are not utilizingsocial media resources to engage their customers to the extentthat they could, or should. A new survey by SAS Canada and LegerMarketing conducted in January 2011 found that less than one-fifth(17%) of Canadian companies regularly monitor and post to socialmedia sites.“You have to have a strategy in place and you have to understand[how to navigate this space],” says Donna Marie Antoniadis, co-founderand CEO of ShesConnected Multimedia Corp, a Toronto-based agencythat provides online community management services for brands andagencies looking to target the female consumer.Canadian companies are still trying to get comfortable with Twitterand understand that it can do everything from build a brand to providecustomer service—all in 140 characters or less. Within the frameworkof brand guidelines, Twitter offers a great opportunity to have botha “consistent and fluid brand experience, tailored to the consumers’questions, thoughts or opinions,” says Maggie Fox, founder of SocialMedia Group.So why aren’t Canadian companies better at Twitter? What hasthem running scared?Mitch Joel, president of Twist Image, says brands are still learninghow to deal with consumers one-on-one in a very public way. Twitteris a volatile barometer of public sentiment and many companies don’tnecessarily want to discuss every issue in that environment. In thepast, dissatisfied customers would call a customer service line anddeal with the company directly, and privately.If a company was dealing with a crisis management issue, the mediarelations team or legal department were put on damage control. Theissue was addressed by way of a press release or an official statement.Either way, the company had more control over what print or broadcastmedia outlets were saying.“Companies have never interacted with consumers this way andso what you’re seeing is companies reacting almost as if their peopleare media entities,” he says.Joel suggests looking at it from the perspective of a consumerpackaged goods company that until recently dealt only with retailers.Interacting with consumers forces a company to act and behavedifferently.“Suddenly in this channel a lot of brands that have never had thisinteraction have to deal with their consumers… It creates a new cultureand DNA within an organization.”Because of the immediacy of Twitter, it does tend to see a lot ofknee-jerk reactions and content from consumers, says Ed Lee, socialmedia director at Tribal DDB. “Organizations have to make a decisionhow they want to deal with these reactions or if they want to lead theconversation around their brand.”It’s important to have a Twitter plan in place. Know your objectivesand strategy and, more importantly, how they fit in with the businessobjectives and culture, says Lee. If it’s appropriate, “give youremployees permission to engage on Twitter without constrainingthem too heavily,” he says.Twitter offers the opportunity to be both proactive and reactive—“sharing the human side of who you are and what you do with outboundmessaging and news, as well as responding to inquiries in a way thatconsistently embodies your brand,” says Fox.But give your brand a voice. “If it’s appropriate, give your employeespermission to engage on Twitter without constraining them tooheavily,” says Lee. “They are your people, they epitomize your brandand can be your greatest salespeople.”And one more tip: keep reading.