|This wasn't a good reason in high school and it still isn't.|
For an organization considering adopting Twitter as a tool, there are three obvious (at least to me) questions that its communications staffers need to ask themselves, namely
- Do I have a story to tell that lends itself to 140-character vignettes?
- Do I have important information to disseminate?
- Is there anybody else out there who is already disseminating this information effectively?
- Do I have the time and the resources to devote to the upkeep of this tool? (See last week's post on the similarities between having a dog and having a social media tool.)
These are not easy questions to answer and require a great deal of thought and research. However, the following criteria are more straightforward, namely a list of wrong reasons to be on Twitter. If you're thinking about adopting Twitter as a tool - and any of the following rationales for adopting it apply - I think it would be wise to re-examine your priorities.
|Useful tools in some professions but perhaps not yours|
2) Because it's cool.
No, it really isn't. Even if this were a legitimate reason for using Twitter, this now six-year-old digital tool lost just about any claim to 'coolness' it ever had at least four years ago. In fact it was pretty much officially declared uncool in 2008 - and is now firmly into Facebookville.
3) Because everybody else is using it.
|Now this actually is cool!|
4) I'll look like a laggard if I'm not on Twitter.
Again, not true. Unless you're in a job like mine where you're actively involved in researching what tools different companies and organizations are using, nobody is out there sussing out whether or not you, personally, are tweeting or not. And if they are they've got WAY too much time on their hands. Truth be told, if your organization is communicating well with the tools it's using, nobody is going to fixate on the tools you're not using. Really, nobody cares!
5) I need it to establish myself as a source of first resort in my area.
This may or may not be a legitimate reason for being on Twitter, but it leads back to the original point about whether a) you really do have unrivalled access to certain information and can provide it better than other organizations, and b) you have the time and human resources to devote to the task. The latter point is the undoing of some organizations that leap into Twitterstan before thinking through what they hope to achieve with it. And the trouble with establishing yourself as a source of first resort on anything is that people come to expect this of you - and failing to deliver the goods in this regard will do far more damage to your organization's reputation than not being on Twitter in the first place ever could.
6) The board of directors wants me to.
7) I like the cute birdie symbol.
I've never actually heard this articulated as a rationale for using Twitter, but it's probably safe to say it's not a good reason for doing so. Perhaps you might consider a company mascot - and hiring an 18-year-old kid to stand outside the building in a bird costume. At least the kid can go home at 5 pm and leave the bird costume at the office.
P.S. Christina Rontynen, if you're reading this post, my whole business about Twitter educators was in no way directed at you. And if you are looking for a great social media consultant and educator - and you happen to be in the Calgary area, Christina, the President of CIPR Communications and currently a digital media advisor for the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, really knows her stuff. You can follow her on Twitter at @crontynen or check out her cheeky political blog (which she co-authors with her husband Peter Pilarski) at PCinYYC.com.