In a recent MIT Sloan Management Review post, a research study applauded Fortune 500 companies for their efforts and progress of becoming more social. In the report, it showed that 28 percent of the Fortune 500 companies had blogs. In addition, 73 percent of the Fortune 500 companies have a corporate Twitter account. A Forbes post named Twitter the fastest growing social platform in the world. However, less than 20 percent of the Fortune 250 companies have CMOs on Twitter and of the 20 percent of the Fortune 250 CMOs on Twitter, more than half are below average in being very social.
For brands, there is a knack to using Twitter. Research has to be done before engaging customers. Companies need to know how their customers use Twitter by finding out if there are any conversations happening about their brand, product, service or industry. Also, it is good to know what customers are tweeting about in regards to brand. Also, companies need to know why Twitter is being used in the first place. They have to determine what is to be achieved. After determining its use, a branded or personal profile has to be created. Employees are using Twitter to primarily engage with people on behalf of the company, they should have a branded profile. A branded profile is one that clearly identifies the user as an employee of the company or has a branded background picture and bio. Sometimes, a more personal profile that unites your a personal brand with that of the company can be used.
For blogging, there are practices that need to put into play as well. First and foremost, blogging can lead to legal issues. Companies should have real concerns about liability, exclusions and limitations, and indemnity for statements made by employees that are harmful to others. The site should carry some sort of disclaimer and limitation of liability. It is necessary that whoever is writing the blog and senior management know what they are doing. They should be educated by the corporate communications and legal department about what blogs are and how they might affect business.
Blogging policies should be created to prevent the possibility of leaking trade secrets or financial information and ensure that trade secrets are kept secret and personal lives do not become public. It should become a marketing blog. In a blog, customers are looking for real answers and honest opinions not empty advertising. Keeping a blog fresh with new content and making it easy to add onto so it can be updated constantly keeps the readers coming back. The blog can be used to interact with customers so that the company’s core values, mission, goals and direction are reflected. Also, employees should be encouraged to use it, but they need to be reminded of the public nature of the blogs and the ramifications for their actions.
Whole Foods utilizes Twitter as a main source of promotion for their company. Their research showed that most of their customers are young, conservative and business-oriented. They tend to be more businesslike on social media therefore engage Twitter more often than Facebook. John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods, has his own blog and the company has a blog easily accessible on their website. This popular blog is full of how-to’s, best practices and exciting product ideas. Wegman’s changes their blog design every few weeks to reflect colorful seasonal themes. The company has managed to attract a loyal and engaged audience through posts from President Danny Wegman and other store employees on ideas for entertaining at home, recipes and nutrition. In fact, there was a post where the deli chef was responding to questions by telling customers which aisle to find ingredients for some tasty muffins.
The 10 Best Corporate Blogs in the World (January 10, 2011), http://www.businessesgrow.com/2011/01/05/the-10-best-corporate-blogs-in-the-world/
Afshar, Vala (February 25, 2013), The Top Social CMOs of Fortune 250 Companies on Twitter, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/vala-afshar/the-top-social-cmos_b_2754385.html
White, Kari, Corporate Blogging: 7 Best Practices, http://www.businessknowhow.com/internet/corporate-blog.htm
Brito, Michael (June 2009), 10 Twitter Best Practices for Brands, http://mashable.com/2009/06/24/twitter-brand-best-practices/