Is it time to grow up? You decide

I need your help in making a decision.

They are after me, you see. They are closing in on me, and only you can help me decide whether I should fight my corner or submit to their demands.

When I joined Twitter in September 2010 I had no plan, no corporate brief. I just used common sense. Don’t swear, don’t say anything you wouldn’t want to see repeated in print, count to three and reread the tweet before pressing ‘send’. And apart from one or two lapses (which I’m not repeating here) I have by and large managed to not make a fool of myself.

I have, however, very much been myself. Which I reckon is the way to be. It’s how I am in life, I wear my heart on my sleeve. Indeed, one of the reasons I set up my own business back in 1998 was because I thought I knew everything and couldn’t be told I was wrong, an essential ingredient for every business owner I reckon.

But now that the business is growing up I am being encouraged to do the same. By and large I am not only agreeing with the changes we are making as a business, I am instigating or encouraging them. But there is one change that sticks in my craw.

They want me to become a corporate Twitter account.

I enjoy Twitter because I get to choose who I follow. And I never follow corporate accounts. Isn’t that what LinkedIn is for? Personally,  I never look at the timeline in LinkedIn, it just seems to be promotion. I even mute the sound when the adverts come on between TV programmes and wait outside the cinema until the 30 minutes of adverts have finished and the film starts. I have a deep seated aversion to being sold to. And that’s what LinkedIn and corporate Twitter accounts seem to be.

If social media is like school then Twitter are the kids behind the bike shed and LinkedIn is Homework Club. Corporates spinning their corporate message to other corporates. Like a networking event where everyone wants to give away their own business card but aren’t interested in receiving anyone elses. Is that what tweeting through a corporate Twitter account really means?

But this isn’t about me. I’m not marketing to me. It’s about people we want to reach as a business – and that means not only potential clients, but also our peers, industry commentators, other professionals, journalists. So it’s you lot, basically. Real people.

So, you decide – should I change @ovationchris to @OvationFinance and maybe start a personal Twitter account? Tweet company and industry issues through one and continue to have fun through the other?

Or should I ignore the advice and stick with the one account? Carry on tweeting thoughts, opinions and bad jokes and don’t worry about the fact I lose lots of corporate followers because they wouldn’t really engage with me anyway.

I need your advice!

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17 thoughts on “Is it time to grow up? You decide

  • Another vote for ‘don’t do it’. We maintain a corporate Twitter account (@informedchoice) in addition to our various personal Twitter accounts, and it never seems to get the same level of attention, engagement or enquiries. Personal on Twitter is the way to go. Maybe with a bit of business thrown into the mix.

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  • No, no and thrice no!

    Who do you want to take notice of you? People. Most people have just as deep an aversion to being sold to as you do, and having a corporate account is one thing which will make people bring their guard up a little bit.

    Your handle is @OvationChris – leave it to that and keep doing what you’re doing. Whoever ‘they’ are who are encouraging you to do this are plain wrong and I would argue don’t get Twitter. I hope you’re not paying them to tell you how to do what you already do so well.

    For a textbook example of corporate Twitter done well, look no further than @david_ferguson of Nucleus. They have a corporate account, but CEO David is always on-message with his tweets and yet is funny, dry, cutting, encouraging and above all personal.

    I interview him about it on Advisertech.co.uk next month too. Just sayin’ 😉

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  • Agreed, don’t lose the personal one! But you can consider a corporate account… with personality. It will have a slightly different ‘voice’ and that’s fine. If you do set one up it’s a good idea to let people know who’s behind it, it makes it real and less of a boring corporate account. So in the profile add …tweets mostly by @ovationchris.

    Ours at @ClientsFirstUK is managed by @SamJTurner…. when he’s not playing golf in Florida.

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  • Hi Chris, thanks for asking me to comment, we get asked this nearly everyday by our AdviserPost members. The approach we recommend is exactly what Martin is using for Informed Choice as corporate and personal accounts have different roles.

    We use personal accounts exactly as you are now; to express yourself and engage with people that like what you have to say and share your views or sense of humour. All things being equal, people buy from people and that’s why Twitter is a powerful sales aid.

    Corporate Twitter accounts are for building your brand. Now branding can be an expensive luxury for small firms, so it’s not so essential. Corporate Twitter accounts are for sharing your corporate content and demonstrating what communities your firm is associated with. Corporate accounts are less for engagement than, dare I say it, broadcast.

    For example, if you think Jose Jose Mourinho’s defensive tactics he used for Chelsea to defeat Liverpool were in appropriate for Atlético Madrid, or you think the Chancellor has missed a trick then that’s for your personal Twitter account.

    If you want to talk about supporting a local charity that your clients will be aware of or you’re publishing a factual summary of the Budget, then that’s something your corporate Twitter feed would publish.

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  • Now then, Chris. In Marxist terms, creating a personal and corporate account is splitting your yourself in a way which will lead to ‘alienation’. To fulfill your species-being you must remain an integrated whole, just as you are right now, droning on about the cricket, or council, or regulatory fees or some other drivel.

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  • Get yourself a pseudonym; its sexy.

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  • So here’s how I understand the situation, if I’ve got things wrong, please say and we can adjust accordingly.

    You started engaging on twitter in September 2010 with no plan, and I’m guessing you’ve not made a plan since then, beyond your commons sense approach and being very much yourself. Two excellent qualities for using twitter.

    You started using twitter out of curiosity and although you didn’t join to talk with other financial professionals, you’ve found yourself happily engaging with other peers who are happy to share best practice.

    Now you’re re-evaluating your use of twitter as a tool to market to people you want to reach as a business as well as they fun, engaging and educational tool that you’ve happily been using it for these past years. The people you want to reach as a business are: potential clients, peers, industry commentators, other professionals, and journalists.

    With regards to potential clients for your firm, my understanding is that is business owners (SME) 45+, and professional connections, ie accountants and solicitors.

    The point of your engagement and following on twitter (and indeed on any social profile when being used for business) is to positively influence your audience to say yes to your business. Yes to becoming clients, yes to writing about you in the press, yes to inviting you to industry thought leadership events etc, yes to partnering with you and introducing their clients to your business.

    This requires first being able to attract the right audience, then positively influence them and ultimately getting them to take action – to say yes. It seems you’re concerned by concentrating more on using twitter for business, you’ll have to change the way you interact on twitter and your enjoyment of it, which you’d rather not do.

    Why don’t we first look at how successful your ‘common sense and being yourself approach’ has been to attracting the right type of followers with your business in mind.

    I know for a fact that your online engagement, and your website are well respected by many of your peers. I think it’s fair to say your tweets engage more than just your peers as your following to follower account reflects.
    Tweets 50.2K Following 493 Followers 1,346

    If we look into your twitter following in more detail the breakdown is:
    • Finance/Banking 18.1%
    • Senior Managers 12.6%
    • Sales/marketing 10.7%
    • Consultants 7.2%
    • Journalists 6.4%
    • Entrepreneurs 6.2%
    • Musicians 5.9%
    • Authors/writers 5.3%
    • Web developers 2.7%
    • Lawyers 2.1%
    • Students 1.9%

    So it’s fair to say what you’ve been doing these past years has been attracting the right type of people to following your account. Perhaps the weightings aren’t quite where you’d ideally like them to be, but ultimately you’re followers are all the people you said you’d like to attract as a business. (Give yourself a high five).

    The second part is to measure how much you’re positively influencing your followers. This can be a little more difficult to measure. The very fact you’re attracting followers that you’re not following is a positive indication. Who is interacting with you is another indicator.

    You can view your most recent tweets and their reach on the following link http://tweetreach.com/reports/10462759. It’s probably more industry peer focused than you’d like (looking at it from a business perspective). I also believe without too much extra effort you can increase the reach dramatically. (Here is the equivalent report on my account purely for comparison http://tweetreach.com/reports/10462919).

    Who is clicking through to your website, contacting you via twitter or sending you DM’s to say they’d like to talk are other measures of positively influencing. But if you take a look at your latest tweets, they send links to article(s) you’ve written for adviser lounge (financial folk) and a couple of tweets to your author’s website, a couple of tweets about the fact that you’re hiring but nothing back to your Ovation Finance website which is full of content.

    If I’m a business owner or a professional connection (accountant or solicitor) you’re very quiet on your views on subject matters that affect me. Why is that? Is it simply because you’ve not had a plan and so this hasn’t occurred to you, or have you consciously chosen to not share your thoughts on these topics?

    If you can happily add these thoughts within your existing twitter engagement and sharing, then you’ll be continuing to attract the right type of followers, while influencing more of the ‘right’ type of followers with your business in mind, and allowing more of them to say ‘yes’ to your business. To having a meeting, to getting to know you all better in person, to taking your acquaintance to the next level.

    Using twitter for business is nothing to do with being a soulless corporate account, but it is about thinking a little smarter about how you use it, what you share (outside of the usual chit chat conversation) and who you choose to follow. Look for Maverns, Connectors and Salesmen within the areas of business you’d like to attract. Ie those who are knowledgable, those who like to connect others and those who are good at persuading people to take action. And never stop being you – especially when it’s not getting in the way of everyone’s goals.

    We all want to do business with someone we feel we know, with someone we like and with someone we feel we can trust. That has to show the personal side of those behind the business.

    I have more thoughts on this, if you’d like to hear them, you can give me a tinkle (oh that sounds a little rude) – you can give me a call 🙂

    I hope this helps!

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    • Wow, thanks Bridget, you know more about me than I know myself! Thank you so much for taking so much time over this, I’m sure everyone reading it will have as much food for thought about their own activities as I do over mine

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  • I would say keep it to one Twitter account: people buy people. Twitter is about spontaneity, about showing a personal side to business and a business side to the personal.

    Having said that I DO have a separate Twitter account for my political profile (such as it is). Some things really are better off being directed to the appropriate audience! #politics #religion

    And LinkedIn? Awful.

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  • Social Media is a waterbed – total fun- uncontrollable and extremely dangerous (witness Cilla on Coronation Street).

    People buy into the edge and once you’ve lost it , you might as well walk away.

    Trying to monetise the value of twitter is all but impossilbe. There are plenty of snake oil salesmen (not Bridget) who try.

    Linkedin is more corporatist but still subversive.

    I watched a Russell Brand movie last night and realised how far you can go if you are trusted by your audience and how much the personal brand delivers .

    So I’m against losing the personal brand Chris.

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  • I’m with the majority of the others Chris. Don’t do it.

    I only have one twitter account. Like you, I wear my heart on my sleeve because that’s me and I’m happy for the world to see me, good or bad (depending on your point of view).

    It’s been said above, “People buy from people” and that will never change. So why would you put a faceless image in front of you to hide yourself. But these two paragraphs have been about YOUR twitter account!

    I am a part of a big brand name so I also understand the importance of having that/your brand out there and promoting it.

    Thinking about this another way, if your business is growing up and you want to leave that brand/business as your legacy then it can’t all be about you otherwise it will slowly vanish afterwards. It has to be able to carry on in its own right. That’s what legacy is about; what you leave behind.

    So my suggestion (for what it’s worth) would be this, keep doing what you’re doing and exactly how you do it. Then through a brand account, promote your brand. And I say brand rather than corporate as the two things are very different.

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  • People do business with people they know, like and trust. Individuals are the driving force of social network engagement, whether under their own identities or masquerading as a corporate brand.

    You’ve already build a personal brand and following online as a person. Why choose to hide behind a corporate brand now?

    My advice: Keep the personal account and build on it. It’s earned media and you earned it!

    Start a corporate account and find someone else to build it up for you.

    I don’t see Twitter as merely a marketing strategy to be leveraged for lead generation. It is so much more. It can be a powerful tool for building familiarity and trust and that’s much more valuable in the long run than a few leads.

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