Why We Tweet for Clients

May 21, 2009

Yes, it’s true. We tweet or “ghost tweet” for some of our clients. But this post isn’t meant to be self-promotional but rather a study of social media habits and their adoption by small businesses. This has been a subject of some controversy and discussion, as many view social media — especially Twitter — as a place for openness and transparency and thus not the bailiwick of your traditional advertising agency.

I agree with those sentiments in general. However they are black and white and, as we know, the modern world is rarely that cut and dry. Truth be told, in medium- to large-sized  businesses where you are often deep with marketing staff, you could and perhaps should keep social media duties in-house, as you have more than enough marketers to navigate most new media channels. But in several small businesses including many that we work with there aren’t any staff members dedicated to the full-time marketing of the brand. Many of these businesses understand the impact of new media and know that they need to have a presence in these channels but they don’t always have the time, tools, or personnel to get there. That’s where we come in.

The other way in which we don’t fit the black and white rules mentioned above is that in a lot of ways we are different from traditional agencies. First, we are purposefully small. We don’t have deep hierarchies of our own with account people and creatives. Our account people are our creatives and vice versa. We are deeply involved in almost every aspect of telling our clients’ stories. We also work closely with our clients in ways that many agencies don’t. We’re involved in long-term planning and analysis. In many ways we are an off-site marketing team for a handful of businesses.

So having blurred these lines and qualified ourselves as relevant Twitter admins for our clients I will say there are rules that we have created (and continue to create). If asked, we are clear about who we are and who we are not. We don’t create an identity that’s not true. We tweet as the business or brand itself and never as ‘Nick from INSERT BUSINESS HERE.’ We also work to relay all true social media inquiries directly to staff to ensure a timely and relevant response.

Perhaps our most prescient guiding principle in working with our clients on social media projects is best related through the classic saying — Give a man a fish and you’ve fed him for today. Teach a man to fish and you’ve fed him for a lifetime. Our long-term social media goal is to teach our clients to fish. And that’s where the open nature of social media comes in handy — for collaboration. Twitter makes it easy to share the work of tweeting via CoTweet and other similar platforms used by Ford, Starbucks and Whole Foods. On Facebook, you can assign as many page admins as you want to share the work.

Do you need a social media strategy for your business? Absolutely. Is there one strategy for all businesses small and large? Of course not. In short we tweet for our clients because we are teaching them to fish and guiding them along the journey. And because it’s not a black and white world with black and white business/agency lines. So that’s our theory. What’s yours?

Photo via Flickr user jnyemb
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is a strategist, speaker, educator, and author of Brand Now: How to Stand Out in a Crowded, Distracted World and Get Scrappy: Smarter Digital Marketing for Businesses Big and Small. He is the Chief Brand Strategist at Brand Driven Digital, an educator at the University of Iowa, and host of the On Brand podcast. More about Nick.