No tweets from the Executive level

Posted on November 17, 2009. Filed under: twitter | Tags: , , , , , , |

Based on a study by Weber Shandwick, Mashable.com reported today that though 73 of the Fortune 100 have Twitter accounts, these companies have failed to use the application to effectively engage with consumers. The companies’ lack of engagement was measured by the number of followers, number of tweets and “quality” of tweets. The overwhelming majority of Fortune 100 Twitter accounts, according to Weber Shandwick, were perceived by consumers as faceless and lacking personality. Mashable.com correctly notes that identity and personality – and even entertainment – are what keeps people tuned in to Twitter accounts, and that top companies are losing out on valuable customer relationships by failing to harness the power of the tweet. I can’t say I’m surprised.

The problem is that the Fortune 100 have neglected to equate marketing with social media. Corporate America, to paint large companies as a monolith, are generally great at branding. They commission great logos, harmonize fonts, and pay millions to the lawyers and PR firms that protect their brands from devaluation. Those same companies also house large marketing departments that (hopefully) connect products with consumers to the tune of Fortune 100 revenues. And, since almost every corporation requires some kind of technoogy infrastructure to operate, a cadre of software and hardware engineers sits at the ready to make all networks run smoothly. So what’s the problem?

The issue is that the folks in corporate communications don’t work with the product marketing department, whose never spoken to the tech team. And in a world where social media = consumers + brand + technology, you’d best believe it requires a helluva cross-functional team to execute the best social media campaign. But they need to share competencies and resources to work together.

Just as a marketer needs to understand about color separations and printing lead times to help execute an effective magazine ad, so too must he understand how SEO and wikis works to get the best social media campaign. And a tech gal may have been using Facebook since 2004, butif she doesn’t understand basic marketing like consumer targeting and brand personality to manage a company’s Twitter account.

In a talk at the Web 2.0 Expo in New York today, Caterina Fake (founder of Flickr and Hunch) talked about how limited finances, “DIY”and creative collaboration laid the foundation for her companies and other “Internet startups” that have driven massive growth in the US economy. Perhaps large corporations can take some advice from lean, hungry entrepreneurs and learn to cross-pollinate managers in order to survive in today’s crowded consumer market.

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