What’s your Twitter handle?

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Perhaps you don’t have a good handle on what Twitter really is and all the ways to use it?  (it’s ok really…we are all still learning).


Twitter is above all else a communications tool, a vehicle for any business or person to build buzz, discuss topics of interest with like-minded people, a place to engage in a conversation with your customers and colleagues, a customer service tool – and a way to increase reach much quicker than traditional media.

Unlike Facebook and other Social media channels, Twitter is about forming new connections with people you don’t necessarily know (or will ever know) in person.

Twitter can be used to push out content (new blog posts, articles of interest, photos and videos), to stay up to date on trends, and to drive awareness to brands and businesses, and most importantly – the people behind the brands.

Twitter’s greatest power, once you have developed a twitter tone, a good following – and you have figured out how to provide your followers with valuable, engaging content – is its ability to communicate quickly to large numbers of people.

Twitter is a great tool for crisis communications, live event, or CRM, for extending customer service online, and above all, a great tool for building brand personality and credibility.

Not a place for pushed out marketing messages, Twitter allows you to communicate and engage with your target audiences. Use twitter to draw attention to other places where your brand lives such as a company website, or Blog, or even your company Facebook page where there is more room for expanded messages.

You will need time and resources to set up and manage a good twitter account, and not having a Twitter strategy will certainly lead to poor ROI and possibly some mishaps along the way.

Twitter Tips:

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Make sure your Twitter handle – your Twitter name – mine is @Alicia_Whalen_  is reflective of your brand, and ensure the bio is more personalized to the Tweeter

Pick the right image for your profile pic.  This becomes how other Tweeter’s will recognize you in the newsfeed.  Brands should use Logo’s.

Be strategic when developing your tone – be conversational and add value to the ecosystem

Share and RT (re-tweet) newsworthy or quality content. It is a good practice to “return the favour” with re-tweets and thank those who RT your content

Use @username (the Twitter handle!) when referencing another person in Twitter


Mark positive feedback as “Favorites” by clicking the heart in Twitter, and retweet (RT) good content.

• In general, follow people who follow you – but not always. It is not about how many followers you have on Twitter – tweeters will look to who you follow as an indication of who you are.

Tweet interesting news and info related to your company and industry, and follow colleagues, industry associations and even competitors.

Twitter lists allow you to categorize Tweeps (Twitter people) and better organize how you follow their content

Use Hashtags # to index and label your content in Twitter. ie. #TwitterTips and #Socialmedia for this Blog post will ensure that this content will appear in a Twitter stream of content related to using Twitter – and may then be seen by more people

Set-up scheduled updates and manage your Social Media postings through tools like www.hootsuite.com or Sprout Social – or even through the Twitter APP.  You can manage comments and messages directed to you on the go easily with the Twitter App.

Monitor. Use tools like Sprout Social and Hootsuite.com – Twitter also now has analytics that show you the reach of your posts.  Deeper analytics are available for Ad posts or promoted posts within Twitter.

Twitter takes time and commitment but can open you up to brand fans, brand champions, and new customers far beyond traditional marketing communications channels.


Be authentic, show some personality, don’t sell, make sure to drive traffic back to your transaction point (your website, a phone number, email sign up, Blog etc) use Twitter as a part of your overall marketing communications strategy – and have fun – it is ‘social’ media after all!



Alicia Whalen  is a Speaker, Blogger, Entrepreneur  and Co-Founder of Hashtagio.com – The platform that harnesses the power of social and user- generated social content.  


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Crisis Communications in 140 characters or less

Ink on your fingers from reading the daily newspaper and CNN as the source for all breaking news is almost a distant memory, as news comes to us now via Twitter and other Social Media channels almost instantaneously – and not through the same media filters of the past.

As events take place in real time, Twitterers are commenting, re-tweeting and sharing images making the Twitterverse the place to have access to the real story, or perhaps just commentary without the accuracy of old traditional media (although that could be debated I am sure).

News junkies, and the media themselves are getting their fix faster than ever, which means that when disaster happens, everyone will know about instantly – as it happens, leaving brands little time to send in the PR team to handle official statements and manage the messages.

So what happens when an emergency occurs that demands that a brand respond and or participate in ongoing commentary to help neutralize negative information, and help shape a more positive spin on events as they occur, and immediately after, without an active digital component to their PR strategy?

Those in the travel and tourism industry (and any industry for that matter) need to be ready and on stand-by to deal with emergencies from both a customer-service perspective as well as a media relations best practice. Specifically if you have a Social media presence – especially on Twitter – you need to be ready to use the channel to directly respond to media and customers or risk losing control of the message – or worse.

Take the recent emergency landing of an Emirates Airline to JFK airport in New York City. The plane originating from Dubai was escorted by the national guard back to the airport under suspicion that it was carrying explosives (this according to Twitter) Specifically it was reported via Twitter that:

@NYCAviation Emirates Jet lands safely in New York amid global Terror Alerts. This and about 4 other tweets per second we being shared within seconds of the jet landing.

Communications and PR professionals need to have a plan in place as to how to respond if they are actively using Twitter as a communications medium, and they need to be able to issue a statement in 140 characters or less. The reality is that any company that operates in the public eye needs to monitor and manage their online reputation on an ongoing basis.

Specifically if they are using Twitter, there needs to be a plan in place to use the channel as a brand voice, consumer response channel, and as a means to manage the now instantaneous news coverage that is now our media reality.

Whether it’s a natural disaster like flooding or an earthquake, or a threat of terrorism, corporations need to include in their emergency preparedness plans how they will use their official voice in social media to counteract, as well as inform the public as to the status of the situation at hand.

This brings us to a discussion that is on the minds of every brand CEO, and should be…who manages Social Media and what kind of resources should be allocated? Is Twitter the job of Marketing, Public Relations or Technology?

If you are a brand like Emirates Airlines, and you are going Twitter as the brand, you will need to ensure that the Tweeter or Tweeters have access to senior level executives or a PR team that can jump in to help craft the messages required at a time of crisis. Emirates had not as of October 29th when the JFK incident took place tweeted since early January of 2010, amidst hundreds of Tweets per minute trending around the incident.

The danger in having a Twitter account, without proper management or strategy, is that when a crisis occurs and the Twitterverse is a buzz with comments about the incident (including those who are actually on site of the incident, media and the general public), the brand can be seen as non responsive – and this in the PR world is not a good thing.

Some suggestions for Emirates and all brands to consider in the future when under fire (I guess literally in this situation):
1. Prepare a statement consistent with other company official statements provided by the PR team that uses positive language such as “safe” and safety measures – and be sure to thank the authorities for handling the situation. Anything to neutralize the situation. These official tweets will then be re-tweeted and be visible as the “official” voice in all of the clutter on Twitter. Media also fact find using Twitter first using Tweeters with authority or official Twitter accounts as credible sources for information.
2. Monitor the Twitterverse through the crisis and on an ongoing basis to ensure that you can correct any facts, respond to direct twitter questions and address the media – directly via Twitter. A simple way to monitor a situation such at this one would be to go to Twitter Search and type in the word Emirates. All related tweets will appear in real time. (a more robust form of measurement is recommended as a long term strategy)
3. Communicate with the PR/Communications teams to ensure the message is consistent across all mediums.
4. Establish and use Hash Tags (such as #Emirates) to insert the official brand voice into conversation.
5. Respond to Tweets that are posing a question as the official source so that negative buzz can be minimized, or to correct information that is incorrect.

Having a Twitter presence without a defined strategy and an active brand voice to support it is a disaster waiting to happen. In the new media space, there is only minutes to craft a response in 140 characters or less and hope that by engaging in the discussion there will be a positive PR spin on the story as it unfolds.

Consider using this example who is Tweeting as the official voice of your brand, and make sure that if you are actively engaged in social media as a method of marketing and communications, that you have considered what resources you need to fully support your tweeters. They could make the difference between a positive or negative spin that may effect your brand reputation for years to come.

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

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