Should you scrutinize your personal or corporate Twitter friends and followers to pass certain reputation management standards?
While taking note of the rocketing growth for her company’s outsourced, Twitter account, an IT professional was horrified to see that her company was following @PoliticsNPorn, a Twitter account that mixes adult news and politics with shopping for adult sex toys. She alerted management. Debate within management and with the outsourced company ensued. Are there consequences for purposefully or accidentally following suspect or controversial Twitter accounts?
In Kuno’s guest post Should You Follow Twitter Spammers? , I suggest that companies avoid excluding potential customers. Follow your followers. Welcome their dollars to your online store. People need to shop somewhere. Open your doors.
But, to clarify, do define the business’ brand image. In the @PoliticsNPorn scenario, some of the brand’s customers might feel disappointed if a brand appeared to condone pornography sites (remember, customer perception is reality). More importantly, the company’s own personnel were offended (perception is reality). Adopt a policy that respects client image and corporate culture.
How serious do people and businesses take their Twitter followings and followers? In my opinion, we’re a mixed bunch. Because some people do take reputation management to the utter extreme, the rest have to consider the bent. At the same time, those with the propensity to look closely at who’s following whom need to remember that because of tools and time, many people just aren’t aware or concerned about the reputation of their Twitter followers. That in itself begs us all to look at the value of Twitter in the first place. If reputation guardians don’t take the time to know their followers, then what’s the point of Twitter?
Scroll through @PoliticsNPorn, you’ll discover followers who probably aren’t aware that anyone would even consider writing a blog post about this topic. Geez, they’re just trying to build their pr megaphones. Thus, the name “Politics N Porn” is well suited when considering the politics of following an adult account. As of today, you’ll find:
- a bestselling Christian author who speaks on leadership, training, and coaching.
- the president of an executive search firm.
- the founder of a ministry.
- someone “experienced in PR across business…specifically interested in helping you to build and maintain your personal or company profile.”
- a popular radio station.
- a state news journal.
- a senior minister and CEO of a church.
- a third generation family nursery business.
- a one-stop resource of ideas and encouragement from home school Moms.
- a support service to parents and families of children with special needs.
Are all of these accounts crazy? That depends on who’s doing the judging. Maybe, the above accounts didn’t take the time to check out whom they were following or maybe they didn’t care. Connections on Twitter are often as intimate as the relationships built during rush hour traffic.
Quite possibly, from a ministry point of view, some know that Jesus despised hypocrites and shared His faith with all “types”, so they’ve adopted an open policy to friends and followers.
Of course, it’s fair to assume that some of the followers of this account are truly interested in the products. Therein is the difficulty, especially if your brand’s image is wholesome.
Whatever your stance, remember that not everyone will share the same criteria you choose to manage your brand’s reputation. Whether you hire someone to manage your social media services or you monitor your own accounts, being aware of the differences will give you a foot forward as you better connect with friends, associates, customers, and random strangers on Twitter.