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Tweeting Without Fear

13 Aralık 2011 , Salı 17:46
Tweeting Without Fear

Who would have thought typing such short messages could be so tricky?

By now, even the stodgiest companies have found their way onto Twitter. They have discovered it isn't just another marketing channel with a funny name, it's more like a conversation they need to join or risk losing influence over how consumers view them or their brands.

The service, which lets users send 140-character texts, or "tweets," to people who have signed up to follow them, has proved to be an effective way to reach younger consumers and to help build a brand.

But there's a flip side. The nearly six-year-old medium has become a very public complaint line, and ill-considered tweets or hacked Twitter accounts have caused plenty of embarrassment.

In March Chrysler Group LLP cut ties with an agency that handled its Twitter account after the agency sent a tweet that read: "I find it ironic that Detroit is known as the #motorcity and yet no one here knows how to f— drive."

Kenneth Cole Productions Inc. apologized after making a joke on its Twitter page suggesting the Egyptian protesters who toppled the country's government earlier this year were really clamoring for the company's fashions. "Millions are in uproar in #Cairo. Rumor is they heard our new spring collection is now available online" the tweet read.

An April tweet on American Express Co.'s account that urged support of Planned Parenthood was sent after the account was compromised, the company said.

This week AMR Corp.'s American Airlines found itself caught in a public spat after actor Alec Baldwin vented on Twitter after being removed from an American flight. "Flight attendant on American reamed me out 4 playing WORDS W FRIENDS," Mr. Baldwin tweeted, referring to a Scrabble-like online game.

American replied via Twitter asking for his contact information. A day later, American tweeted, "UPDATE: Facts about yesterday's removed passenger" along with a link to a statement giving a less-flattering account of the passenger's behavior without mentioning Mr. Baldwin's name. Mr. Baldwin deactivated his Twitter account after the incident and apologized to his fellow passengers.

Companies are adopting a variety of strategies for navigating Twitter's pitfalls. One of the biggest issues is how many people to trust with a company's account, known as its handle. Spread the authority too thin, and the burden can be overwhelming. Authorize too many people, and the risk of mishaps multiplies. Here's how three very different companies—Southwest Airlines Co., Whole Foods Market Inc. and Best Buy Co.—are approaching the task:

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