When—if ever—should a brand outsource tweets?

Outsourcing your tweets could lead to mistakes, embarrassment and confusion. But sometimes a brand doesn’t have anyone to do the job. Here are your options.

Should you outsource your tweets? No.

But I recognize there is enormous pressure to do so. It’s a reality of a busy life, isn’t it? We just want somebody to do it for us.

Let’s look at the risk of outsourcing tweets, as I recounted in “The Tao of Twitter.” I have a friend who built a Twitter relationship with a business executive she admired. They tweeted back and forth a few times, and he provided some helpful career advice.

When they finally had a chance to meet at a networking event, she introduced herself and he met her with a puzzled stare. He had never heard of her before, and sheepishly explained his PR agency tweeted for him. Obviously his reputation was ruined for this young woman, and for all those she talked to about the incident.

In a well-publicized snafu, a PR agency rep who tweeted on behalf of Chrysler sent out this tweet: “I find it ironic that Detroit is known as the #motorcity when no one here knows how to f**cking drive.”

He thought he was tweeting from his personal account, but he was from Chrysler’s by mistake. He lost his job and the agency lost the account.

Faking it on Twitter is a dangerous business, but you may be in a situation where you have no other practical choice than to team-tweet behind a brand name. If so, you could outsource or share the tweeting among a few trusted individuals.

If you outsource:

  • Be clear and realistic in your objectives.
  • Clearly outline who owns what.
  • Have a clear plan for content, tone and frequency.
  • Be prepared to take advice and listen to it. Most experts know what they are doing and it’s in their best interests to make it work for you.

Make sure you have a disaster recovery plan in case of a PR upset. If you use an agency, ask them to show you how they will manage your account differently than personal/other client accounts so no one mistakenly sends a tweet from the wrong one. It’s easy to do when you use a sharing platform.

Ask to meet everyone who will tweet through your account and create some rules or guidelines for tweeting. Outsourcing doesn’t mean you abdicate responsibility; make sure you are involved and hold everyone accountable.

Before you outsource, carefully weigh the risks and benefits. One of the biggest opportunities of social media is that you can humanize your brand, and even the biggest brands are finding ways to do that successfully. In the long-term, businesses should aim to involve their employees as brand beacons on Twitter instead of relying on an outside agency.

Do you agree?

Mark Schaefer is the executive director of Schaefer Marketing Solutions and blogs at grow. (Image via)

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