The World Won’t End Without Your Tweets

Social media can be a compulsive beast. It’s easy to feel a ‘need’ to keep putting out content through your various channels; no-where is this more true right now than on Twitter. I’ve written about that topic before, and I’ve also discovered the importance of unplugging occasionally.

So, what to do when a client feels like they can’t let their account lie dormant, even for a few days?

Todd Defren wrote a thought-provoking  post earlier this week, asking if people thought his company had done the right thing when a client asked them to take over his Twitter account and “tweet” on his behalf. Their reaction:

“Yes, we would tweet from his account, but with the following conditions:

— Prior to the event, he must tweet, “During the show some of my tweeting will be supplemented by our extended team.” We felt that the term “extended team” was appropriate, suggesting that that term covered both internal and 3rd party colleagues.

— A reminder to that effect would go out, regularly, throughout the conference, i.e., every 10th tweet would remind followers that someone besides the executive might be “at the controls” of his Twitter account.

—When character spaces permitted, we’d add a #team hashtag to denote that the tweet was not published by the exec — but honestly, this attribution fell away more often than not; we largely relied on the “every 10th tweet” approach to cover our ethical backsides.”

Todd asked us, “how would you have handled such a request?” My initial response, posted as a comment on Todd’s post, was that I might have considered disclosing more fully but that in general they seemed to have approached it the right way.

Then, once again, I had a conversation with a colleague that made me think differently.

In one of our social media team meetings, Kerri Birtch suggested that we should really be thinking about a different question: did the client really have to appear to be online all the time?

Why did they feel the need to be online – was it for ego-based reasons or a genuine business need? Could the CEO have simply tweeted that they’d be at a conference and would be paying less attention over the next few days? Could they have posted a heads-up on a company blog for people who missed their Twitter announcement? Why did they not feel it was ok to be less active for a few days?

I don’t know the answers to those questions as I don’t have the context, but Kerri’s thoughts really highlighted a question we all need to ask of ourselves and of clients more often:

Why?

  • Hi David,You have ignited a good issue here that is it that important to tweet at every instant, I relate it by saying that if we call using social media and the kind of engagement that it offers human then we should not act like like bots while we share information regularly about everything, I mean we should go for a break, sometimes after telling our peeps, sometimes without doing it,because that is something which proves we are really there not some virtual assistant on part of us.

  • Why indeed … I’ve often wondered about why vacating the Twitterverse for a few days can be so anxiety provoking …

    I say it’s fear based, but fear of what? … Missing out? Losing followers? Not being able to catch up upon return? … Or maybe something deeper routed? … something to do with acceptance?

    It’s seems a sad reality that we feel the need to convince ourselves the world will not end if we don’t log in daily – Gone seem the days when cell phones were banned from holidays … cell phones have become the safety net, the compromise between leaving all technology at home and leaving none.

  • Hi David,
    Important issue to bring up. My gut: What about the basis of what good tweeting and other SM communication is about. Isn’t the point to just be who we are? The idea of having to “cover” their lack of presence due to a completely reasonable reason is counter to that central premise, isn’t it? What makes SM so great is that we don’t have to represent ourselves as something we’re not or try so hard to put that sales face on all the time. They are human just like all their clients, customers and us other business people who have the same challenges. We’ll understand, and as you say ..live on and be happy to hear from them when they return.

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  • Karima-Catherine

    Hello Dave,

    The question you ask has probably crossed all Tweeps mind!

    I can see where the anxiety is coming from as most tools measuring your influence and traffic on Twitter will take into account day by day interaction. If you use Twitalyzer, it will give you a big downward arrow if, for only 1 day, you have not retweeted or posted tweets.
    Well, I won”t go into details as to which tools is useful or not though.

    However, as you suggested, it is a matter of planning. a notification would have been great, in my opinion, to let people know you would devoting less attention for a few days.

    Thank you for this post.

    @karimacatherine

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  • David,
    What a great thought-provoking question. I believe that the issue is not isolated to Twitter, though.

    For me, and I believe for many business professionals, disconnecting from the office, phone, e-mail, news, etc. can be a daunting, even frightening prospect. When I’m “connected,” it’s possible to manage the fast flow of information and events from the various channels. If I disconnect – even for a day or two – the time away causes a backlog of information that I must wade through to catch up. For most of us, we’ve been in our careers long enough to anticipate this problem so we disconnect as seldom as possible and as from as few channels as possible.

  • Dave, I was challenged in Seth Godin’s new book Linchpin by his pretty blunt remark toward the “always online” I admit that can easily be me. I love conversing with clients, friends and customers. What got me was his conclusion. If we are always online, we are not shipping, we are not recharging and getting inspired for the next creative initiative. I have noticed that my stress level lowers when I only engage online twice a day instead of multiple times throughout. The in between hours become way more productive and I actually have something of value to share when I do return to twitter or facebook.

    Seeing an exec always on reminds me of (I can’t remember who said it) activity does not equal productivity. Also Kerri touches on something else. Were they trying to make the appearance of something that was not actually happening? That to me is putting on a pose. I would rather have an exec that ships instead of one that is always present online.

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  • david (digitaljoy)

    I could be wrong, but I think you are the one who told me 18+ months ago, in reply to my tweet “catching up on tweets from the weekend” that ‘twitter was like a stream, to be dipped into when one had the opportunity.’ Don’t get all “I’m awesome” on me, but that was advice I have embraced… in fact advice I have passed on many times. If you have the time, then use the technology, if not… well, leave the stream for another day. I think this is true for the writer and reader.

    Of course this is not true if you are supposed to be “live blogging” from something, or if you are a corporation tweeting as such (as opposed to an individual in that organization).

    • 🙂

    • I remember that too. What a great line! “like a stream, to be dipped into when one had the opportunity.’ Don’t get all “I’m awesome”
      Priceless!

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  • I always try to go by the quality of quantity rule. If I have something interesting, thoughtful, funny or entertaining to share, then I do. If I don’t have the time or if I have nothing of substance to say, then I say nothing. I’ve gone days without tweeting and guess what? The stream keeps going, and the world didn’t stop spinning, and I still have followers. Sometimes it’s a GOOD thing to step away and tend to other things in life and work.

  • It’s about setting expectations. I had this discussion a few times about the responsibilities of a community manager and whether or not they should be available 24/7. If the community never sleeps, how can the community manager?

    Some things require immediate attention. When I receive a complaint or issue that needs to be handled immediately, I’m committed enough to handle it right away. When something can wait though, it’s important to recognize that, and handle the issue when you get to it.

    You have to manage your time and the expectations of your time. The CEO definitely does not have to be present on twitter all day every day. If they’ve set that expectation, then that’s something that they need to work on. Announcing that they’re at a conference and will be tweeting less allows them to manage those expectations.

    David
    Community Manager, Scribnia.com

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  • Dave, for me, even though I’m still a student, my initial thought is that twitter can wait for me. Good stories will reappear, and even better, I’ll miss out on a bunch of tweeting that involves “I just fed my cat today! He’s really fat!”

    Not that’s there’s anything wrong with anybody with a fat tabby.

    Just saying.

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  • Well, let’s not hem and haw.
    The main reason, of course, is that people don’t want to lose followers. Call it ego or a numbers game or whatever. If you’re missing for a few days you will lose some followers because many people use online tools that let them unfollow people who haven’t tweeted in a set amount of time. BUT people really need to embrace the concept of quality-over-quantity. When you think about it, anyone who unfollows you because you’re not tweeting for a few days is not someone you were engaged with and is probably not someone who adds a lot of value to your stream.

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