There was a time when the phrase “any publicity is good publicity” was practically a p.r. rule, but that only held true during the time when companies were the sole source of information about their products. Today, the internet renders corporate websites a mere alternative source of information about products and services. The primary sources today are blogs and posts in social networking sites, particularly on Twitter.
Keeping it Short
In the past, brand owners have made the mistake of disregarding Twitter as a worthwhile platform because it imposed a limit of 140 characters per tweet, thinking it was impractical to publish substantial brand messaging in such limited space. Especially during times of calamity or bad press, many believed there was little micro-blogging could achieve in helping redeem a brand.
In actuality, Twitter’s character limit makes it easier for brands and companies to manage their online reputation. Rather than publish paragraphs of literature that their audience would likely run out of patience to read, short bursts of communication proved to be more effective when engaging customers or responding to negative feedback. If a disgruntled customer sends an irate tweet, a direct response makes him feel attended to, often resulting in a second “thank you” tweet. If negative sentiments are shared by hundreds, addressing them all in one apologetic tweet still shows the customers they are being heard, rather than ignored because of their number.
Tweeting Timely Reactions
News breaks fastest on the Twittersphere. Retweets and hashtags make it easy for audiences to keep tabs on current events as they unfold, and it’s never long before the finger-pointing starts. If a company is under duress, failing to make a statement about the issue often brings customer perceptions down.
The recent tragedy involving the Bangladesh clothing industry is a good example of how issuing a timely response earns customer respect. Several global brands were implicated in the aftermath; some chose to deny that they hired the factory to produce their clothes, while others admitted the connection and vowed to take steps towards ensuring worker safely. Though a risky p.r. move, the brands that took the latter road were lauded by consumers for being compassionate. Releasing an apology is tried-and-true way to start to turn a bad online reputation around.
Using 117 Characters, Not 140
Good advertising always has a strong but subtle call-to-action. This brief command subtly placed in the ad encourages the audience to read more or visit the store (and ultimately make a purchase). Because Twitter’s 140-character limit might make this hard to accomplish, inserting a link within the tweet achieves the same effect.
Adding a link for more information allows the audience to refer to a source chosen by the company for further reading on the matter. This doesn’t even have to lead to an external site. Visuals, such as photos or videos, can also provide more information regarding the tweet without forcing the audience to leave the page.
Some online reputation managers are discouraged from resorting to this as it reduces the character limit to 117. What they don’t realize is that by adding a link, the call-to-action is essentially shortened to a mere 23 characters – or three to four words – a space in which most marketers would be challenged to fit a proper statement.
Although using Twitter may present a challenge to companies because of its character limit, it is an undeniably powerful tool that can be used to directly reach their market.