Dalai Lama tweets, could Apple be next?
Kudos to His Holiness, the Dalai Lama. He’s joined the Tweeting masses this week, beating the Vatican, Apple and just about every high street bank to this community of 75 million highly connected individuals. Impressively, after just seven Tweets the Dalai Lama has over 44,000 followers.
Already, he (or whomever is behind the Tweets) is showing off some Twitter chops, posting in the first 24 hours a series of bulletins of particular interest to believers, the media and the curious alike. There are tips on where to find the video of his recent Larry King interview, a link to his Tibetan New Year Message and another pointing to photos of his Los Angeles visit earlier in the week.
As a newcomer we thought we’d pass on a few pointers, tips that any big brand should consider as it takes the plunge. Call it a welcome to the Twitterverse gesture.
Stay relevant. So far, so good. Your Tweets are on-point and pertinent. Don’t be tempted to Tweet those annoying “I’m off to Starbucks” blasts.
Don’t tire and abandon your followers. If Twitter were a town it would have some rough streets, filled with derelict shops belonging to some well-known brands. The banks, in particular, are the biggest offenders. Chase last Tweeted something eight months ago and its account appears to now be suspended; PNC Bank has gone even longer, according to BankTwitter. Twitter is a commitment, Your Holiness.
Don’t hand the keys to an overenthusiastic intern monk. We’ve seen this one before. A big brand decides it wants to connect with this community, sensing there’s a potential word-of-mouth bonanza to exploit. It then hands the controls to an indiscreet underling who ends up Tweeting, ala UK furniture retailer Habitat, something that gets the brand into a lot of trouble. A PR commotion ensues.
Follow us back. You have an impressive follower list after just a day, Your Holiness, but you aren’t following anyone, not even Richard Gere (or whomever this guy really is.) Your influence, not to mention usefulness, on Twitter is measured not only in what you say, but what you re-tweet. Your re-tweets serve as a stamp of authority. The daily avalanche of Tweets, now measuring 50 million per day, could use some vetting from the likes of someone as respected as you. And, yes, Your Holiness, we are on Twitter, and you can follow us here at: @socialinfluence.
Be careful whom you follow. Follow, but don’t follow. Huh? That’s right. Don’t be lured in by these I-follow-you-you-follow-me hucksters that abound on Twitter. The idea of boosting your follower numbers overnight may sound awfully tempting, particularly if your rival has more followers than you. But you’d be surprised where your brand could wind up should you opt to try out one of these too-good-to-be-true scammers. We’d seen iVillage and McDonald’s McCafe Coffee at one point late last year following the self-described “rope slut” @GenevaN whose online handle reads, “One woman, several balls, and a team of horny players…” You get the idea. It’s a bad idea.
Who to follow then? Okay, maybe not the @Richard_Gere link above. And, as we note, the pope doesn’t Tweet. But there are plenty of influential brands, politicians and spiritual leaders who do that you ought to follow every day. (Listorious is one such directory that may be of help.) Twitter is a place not only to engage with your community but also to speak out authoritatively about issues that face your general sphere of influence or specialty. That said, it would be wise to follow not only your supporters, but your detractors. China’s President Hu Jintao reportedly is poised to enter the micro-blogging revolution.
Heed your followers. You are no doubt already being peppered with direct messages from your followers. You probably do not have the time to respond to all of them, but don’t ignore them. Treat these queries as free and invaluable insights into your job performance. Brands shrug these off at their peril. From these messages they can learn not only the likes and dislikes of their consumers, but also, perhaps, tips that could lead to new products or new routes to market.
Be responsive. Sometimes the direct messages or Tweets directed at you can sting. As Southwest Airlines learned last week, consumers use this forum to get the ear of the company who did them wrong. What to do? Be prepared. Be swift. Respond with clarifying information. Otherwise, the fuss will grow into a furor, and suddenly a private matter becomes fodder for the press.
Be generous. Like any community, Twitter has its undesirables, its blabber-mouths and charlatans. It also has its share of brilliant thinkers, do-gooders and creative movements. Not all of your Tweets will inspire us to be better people, or educate us or make us laugh, but they should at the very least try to illuminate us.
we wish you luck. Happy Tweeting.