Thursday, October 2, 2008

Corporates on Twitter: a culture clash?

I’ve been watching the BigPond/Twitter proceedings with great interest.

In true Web 2.0 fashion, the discussion has taken on a life of its own.

Well, for the most part.

Ironically, BigPond’s own contribution to the conversation has been somewhat stilted. A bit reserved. A bit corporate. 

No surprises there. It’s what they do and what they are. And being corporate is fine in a prospectus. And it’s fine on TV. It’s part of their groove and, no doubt, part of what gives the big in BIGpond some credibility.

But being corporate on Twitter just doesn’t work. And trying to be not corporate, when, by all intents and systems you are corporate, just isn’t very credible.

Can Twitter ever be the right medium for corporates? As corporates?

I don’t know, but I don’t think so.

P.S Then again...

15 comments:

Paul said...

I'm not sure I agree. I've worked for a major brand that (by many accounts from people in the community) uses Twitter well.
You might be interested in this BusinessWeek story from last month: http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content/sep2008/tc2008095_320491.htm?chan=technology_technology+index+page_top+stories
But I do agree that being credible on Twitter requires learning about the culture of the community -- and that includes a less formal style. That's a challenge for corporates but not impossible, as we've already seen.

Katie Harris said...

Hi Paul

Thanks for the link: very interesting!

But it still seems as though most of the success stories are those where individuals (eg Frank Eliason at Comcast, Tony Hsieh, etc) are driving the tweeting vs a corporate effort per se.

In these particular cases, both Twitterers are seemingly passionate about what they do, relatively engaged with their communities, and here’s the crunch: in a position to solve problems.

Maybe these are the ingredients that will set some corporates apart from the others in terms of their success with Twitter.

I wonder.

Paul said...

I agree about the passion and being in a position to get things done. I think Frank would also tell you he's not working alone (at least, not any more).
Of course the example I am familiar with is Dell. Here's a list of their different Twitter streams. You'll notice a different person managing each. When I last heard Dell had more than 40 people actively engaged on Twitter.
http://www.dell.com/content/topics/global.aspx/community/dell_on_twitter?c=us&l=en&s=corp
So it can be done. But as, I think this post from Jeremiah Owyang illustrates, it's not easy http://www.web-strategist.com/blog/2008/08/13/why-brands-are-unsuccessful-in-twitter/

Katie Harris said...

Thanks for that link to Jeremiah's blog! Very interesting. I couldn't click through to the tweets from the Dell page though - just kept getting a blank. Might try a Twitter search though.

Thanks again.

Katie

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