So you may have heard about Sepp Blatter’s inauspicious arrival on Twitter. If you haven’t, here’s a summary: The FIFA president signed up in June. He tweeted. He promptly got over 20,000 followers, many of whom sent @replies stating how much they disapproved of him and his organisation.
Whether Mr Blatter deserved that kind of treatment is another matter, but there are 4 helpful lessons we can learn from the whole affair:
Lesson #1: Have a plan
It appears that Mr Blatter signed up without carefully thinking through the ramifications of opening himself up to the 100-odd million people on Twitter. It’s easy to think of Twitter as a personal platform to express thoughts and feelings, but when you’re a public figure and you represent a global organisation, you can’t just utter thoughts as they come to you. Unfortunately, you’re public property, and thus fair game for a firestorm of negative sentiment. If you’re a brand or a personality, you’ll need to think about the consequences and come up with a strategy on how to deal with every eventuality.
Lesson #2: Have a point
Twitter is now a powerful weapon in the marketer’s arsenal. Think of your tweets as bullets in a Gatling gun. You can hit marketing objectives in a short space of time, but you can also cause a lot of damage if you don’t stick to your plan. Big brands should decide on what they’re trying to achieve with their communication via Twitter. It helps if you have a cause, a plan, a point to all the noise you’re making. The consistency in messaging will stand you in good stead when things go wrong.
Lesson #3: Have a team
If you’re a high profile celebrity or a well-known brand, you under-estimate Twitter at your peril. Take Sepp’s example. Perhaps he thought he could share his thoughts with football fans without recourse, but he soon realised Twitter is a volatile environment. Twitter presents a lens through which the public shares your personal vision. Each tweet is like a polaroid, suspended in cyberspace, that people can share and refer back to. With the sheer volume of daily tweets, you’ll need support to handle the potentialities. You need a team that understands the medium; that can track relevant signals and then filter the threats and opportunities.
Lesson #4: Have a sense of humour (and a sideplate of patience)
Let’s face it. Twitter is a new channel. So when things go wrong, breathe deep and take another look at the situation with a clear mind. Mistakes happen, and so with all the hype and hooha made over the Sepp Blatter incident, we must also take it all with a pinch of salt. Not every bad comment is Hurricane Katrina waiting to happen. And, if someone is saying bad things it doesn’t mean that you HAVE to respond. Discern what is worthy of a response and what actually should just be left alone.
Here endeth the lesson(s).