Twitter template strategy

Neil Williams, head of corporate digital channels at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), has put together a template twitter strategy for government departments and made it available, to share and mash-up, via Scribd (see below).

The document is incredibly thorough – from clear objectives and success measurements through to how much time it takes to maintain – and a good starting point not just for government departments but brands, businesses and other organisations. The document could also be used to audit your current brand presence and help identify how it might be improved.

Neil explains why as an exercise in putting it together it was worth while, by stating:

[…] some of the benefits I’ve found of having this document in my armoury are:

* To get buy-in, explain Twitter’s importance to non-believers and the uninitiated, and face down accusations of bandwagon-jumping
* To set clear objectives and metrics to make sure there’s a return on the investment of staff time (and if there isn’t, we’ll stop doing it)
* To make sure the channel is used consistently and carefully, to protect corporate reputation from silly mistakes or inappropriate use
* To plan varied and interesting content, and enthuse those who will provide it into actively wanting to do so.
* As a briefing tool for new starters in the team who will be involved in the management of the channel

So, possibly before trying to convince the boss that Twitter is worth while… “honest”, it’s perhaps worth taking some time putting together a strategy that will help them see:

  • How it will benefit the business – ensure you consider potential customers/clients and if they use the service
  • How activity will be measured
  • Success criteria and measurement
  • How the feed will be managed
  • The kinds of relevant content that will appear
  • What editorial considerations may need to take place

You may also wish to consider if individuals within the business or organisation should also be tweeting on behalf of the brand – this decision should be made on a case by case basis, although there are arguments being made for only having individuals tweet on their company’s behalf.

A course in spreading the word: version II

A good time was had by all last week in the two day course on viral/spreadable marketing held at the Stephen Lawrence Centre, London for Ravensbourne College of Communication and Design.

I have to particularly thank Gavin Williams (or @wineoftheweek as he’s known on Twitter) from Classic Wine Direct, who came to speak to the class on Friday afternoon and help with the judging of the final team pitches. His talk really helped bring to life how an SME can use social media effectively to launch a product, service or company and gave insights into the importance of passion and personality in brand identity.

The presentation below represents the structure and main parts to the course, but it should be emphasised that a lot of discussion and work in groups also forms a large part of the course content.

Note: Version I of this course can be viewed here.

Response to: Not all information wants to be free – By Jack Shafer

The idea that people won’t pay for content online has become such a part of the Web orthodoxy that New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller risked getting lynched earlier this month for merely musing about paid models for the online editions of his paper. Not helping Keller’s cogitation was a contemporaneous “secret memo” from Steve Brill and a Time article by Walter Isaacson, both which advocated variations on the micropayment model. Neither advances the topic much beyond what most Web entrepreneurs understood long ago…
via Not all information wants to be free. – By Jack Shafer – Slate Magazine.

A good review of what works and doesn’t work with paid-for content and some of the problems that the publishing world is currently facing. Whilst the article doesn’t cover all the possible attributes of successful paid-for content services, Shafer does provide a fairly comprehensive summary that covers most aspects, as follows:

Not all successful paid sites are alike, but they all share at least one of these attributes:
1) They are so amazing as to be irreplaceable
2) They are beautifully designed and executed and extremely easy to use
3) They are stupendously authoritative

Sites that immediately spring to mind that fulfil some of these attributes are:
Flickr, Wall Street Journal, Financial Times and McKinsey, together with a plethora of B2B titles.

However, in the article Shafer wonders why people use iTunes and similar services “when they could easily download the band’s entire discography via Bittorrent for free”, and speculates whether it is because it is an outside-browser-experience. Whilst this may be a factor, there might be simpler answer which could be added as a sub clause to number 2) in the list above, namely:

2a) Sites that take the effort out of doing something that can be done for free (legally or not) but is time consuming or requires a small amount of additional technical knowledge.

In the case of iTunes, it also shouldn’t be forgotten the incredible power of marketing to support the service, the integration of iTunes into their hardware products and the brand alligence that Apple customers exude – an additional consideration to any business considering introducing a paid-for service.

UPDATE, 23/02/2009 >> Two pieces in today’s Media Guardian this topic and how it relates to newspapers:
Jeff Jarvis, News sites should quit moaning about payment and just gopher it
Jemima Kiss, The writing on the paywall

Anita Roddick still lives online

Many would be surprised to learn that Anita Roddick still has a living online presence and brand, under the auspises of Even more would be surprised to find that the website proclaims the strapline “I’m an activist” and lists a “my books” section, selling eleven mostly autobiographical works. Seemingly, for all intents and purposes, that the former founder and owner of the Body Shop were still alive.

Continue reading → Anita Roddick still lives online