There are many questions to ask yourself when putting together a policy for your organization’s Twitter account and Aspiration and Social Source Commons are asking them. Because of the casual, disposable nature of Twitter’s medium, organizations may think that they don’t have to pay as strict attention to it as an online communications channel. However, it still represents the organization in a person-to-person way that other channels do not approach. This familiarity is great for creating an approachable presence for your organization but many issues can come up where it’s useful to have a document for those administering the org’s account to refer to. I wanted to throw out some of the questions that I’ve had while putting together a Twitter policy doc for our Aspiration Twitter account as well as the Social Source Commons Twitter account:
What Criteria is Retweetable by Request?
Because our Aspiration account has a substantial number of followers, we get a lot requests to tweet or retweet things from our friends, colleagues and partners. However, we also get quite a few random @ messages from strangers asking us to check something out or retweet it. Most of the time, these are spammy or just incoherent and therefore easily ignorable. However, there are times when we pause. How about the for-profit but non-profit-relevant start-up looking for trial users? Or the politically-charged tweet from one of our partner organizations? Deciding what we want to stamp with our approval can become pretty gray.
Who Exactly are They Trying to Talk To? Me, Her, Him or our E.D.?
One of the interesting things that happens when you work from within a single organization account (rather than using a personal account), is that people don’t know who they’re talking to. In my experience, this means they talk to whoever they want. “Hey, it was great seeing you yesterday! Let me know how I can help!” or “Hey, I could really use some comments on this blog post!” are just vague enough to be confusing as to who they are talking to. Most of the time, this isn’t a big problem for us at all, but I could see someone tweeting something urgent for our E.D. only to get me in response. Some orgs sign their tweets with initials (e.g. ^MG) or have individual work accounts but how do you address audience splintering?
Retweeting, Quoting, Translating and Changing Others’ Tweets
Sometimes organizations and people have long Twitter handles which means, among other things, attributing them in a Retweet can take up a lot of dang space. Whether you say RT @aspirationtech via @aspirationtech (with or without parentheses) or (my personal favorite) @aspirationtech, you’ve still lost at a minimum 15 characters. This is no big deal of course unless the person you’ve retweeted has used up all 140 characters in their tweet. How the hell are you going to find 15 extra characters? After changing all the “and”s to &s and “are”s to Rs, you may have to change some stuff to make it fit. 99% of the time, this shouldn’t matter, but what about that 1% when it does?
How about when someone tweets in another language? Do you ask their permission to RT it in different language than they used? Do you just go for it?
What Would You Do?
How would you tackle these Twitter-nundrums? What unique circumstances have occurred in your social media pursuits? How do you address them?