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:


Dave Fleet
Managing Director and Head of Global Digital Crisis at Edelman. Husband and dad of two. Cycling nut; bookworm; videogamer; Britnadian. Opinions are mine, not my employer's.