Twitter: How to Lose Friends and Alienate People (plus 3 tips for better engagement)

Last week I had an interesting exchange with a digital agency that illustrated perfectly how to do social media wrong…

It started when I was followed on Twitter by a local web/digital agency.

As usual I said Hi, and we have a brief conversation, exchanging a few tweets. The person behind the avatar seemed like a decent sort, and I made a mental note to add them to my network of local web talent.

But then, checking my stream the next morning I saw something that jarred:


Well, I thought… that seems rather odd and impersonal considering the conversation we had just a few hours earlier. And sent at 1.30am too.

Roll on another 24 hours and I awoke a mention from the self-same agency directing me to a web page about web design errors. I read the page with gusto, but came away disappointed. They clearly didn’t take the time to look at the CubeSocial site. If they had, they would have immediately seen that we had got all those things covered.

The next day… the same ‘@’ message pointing to the very same web page… Now this is just getting spammy.

Checking back I learned that the agency was using a virtual assistant in another time zone to send out tweets overnight.

What Went Wrong

  • First off the VA didn’t check what his colleague had already been tweeting about before jumping into conversation with me.
  • Second he didn’t research me or my company before targeting (spamming) me with irrelevant links.
  • Third he didn’t even track what he had already sent me the day before.

If you have several people tweeting from one account, it’s imperative that you use the right tools to enable the conversation to continue seamlessly as you shift from one operator to the next.

How You Can Avoid Making the Same Mistakes

  1. Get the right people
    Remember that whoever is behind the twitter account represents your brand. If they do a poor job, your entire company looks bad. As we’ve said before – just as you wouldn’t send the office junior to a networking event, don’t leave them in charge of your social media
  2. Tweet in convoy
    Don’t outsource your social media activity. No-one can reflect your brand and your values like you and your employees can. If you can, keep the tweeting in-house and encourage everyone in your organisation to do a little bit whenever they can.
  3. Use the right tool for the job
    If you are going to tweet in convoy, use a tool that helps you track what all your colleagues and partners have been saying to each contact, so that you can all respond in a professional way.

CubeSocial Contact HistoryWhen we created CubeSocial we wanted to enable teams of people to work effortlessly together on your organisations social media activity. CubeSocial lets you easily track the conversations all your staff and partners are having with your clients and prospects, and makes it easy to research contacts social media profiles before you jump into conversation.

If only the VA in this case had been using CubeSocial, they would have been easily able to avoid all three of the errors they made.

Go Where Your Clients Are

imageMy wife and I took a trip out the local shopping centre the other week and as we parked up we were approached by one of a group of guys providing a hand car wash service. As it happened the car was looking pretty dirty and the design of my wife’s car means that you can’t put it through a regular car wash.

The smartly branded rep explained that he would wash the car personally and it would be cleaned inside and out for a very reasonable price – and all while we were off doing our shopping. Before we knew it we had handed over the keys and left the car in the care of the car wash team.

Arriving back 90 minutes later we were delighted to be met by a shiny car, complete with polished interior and newly blackened tyre walls.

Thinking about this later, I couldn’t help but be impressed at the simplicity of the idea. Where do people with cars go at weekends? Cleaning the car is often one of those things you only think about when you get in the car, and make a mental note that you must schedule time to do that chore. 

This is the real world version of social media marketing in action.

Connect with your customers and clients on their social media of choice

As Chris Brogan explained, “the marketplace convenes where it’s convenient”. Where are those “convenient” places in your market? Facebook is convenient for a lot of people… but not the people you probably think of when you think of Facebook. Not kids and younger teenagers (although they’re definitely there). Think about the people with easy, convenient access to the internet; at work, at home, at university… and on their smartphones.

Find those convenient gathering places and take your message and your services to the people who are there. Oh and finally, and also most importantly… like the car wash team in my story, make sure you provide a great service.

Choose a tone of voice that is right for your clients and provide them with an exemplary service. Use a tool like CubeSocial that lets you easily track, archive and share the conversations you are having with prospects and clients across your whole team. Then any one of you can pick up the conversation and you will always have a permanent record of what has been said and by whom.

(Image: knottyboywayne)

If You Really Must Have a Social Media Policy

I wrote a few weeks ago four reasons you don’t need a social media policy, but… if you really must do it, if your boss or in house lawyers are insisting… then you could do much worse than follow this example from ABC in Australia:

  • Do not mix the professional and the personal in ways likely to bring the ABC into disrepute.
  • Do not undermine your effectiveness at work.
  • Do not imply ABC endorsement of your personal views.
  • Do not disclose confidential information obtained through work.

Just four simple guidelines.
That’s it.

If only the tweeting doctors had considered first of these points.

Madwives and the Birthing Shed–A Reminder about Common Sense on Social Media

imageAnother week, another story about social media foot-in-mouth syndrome.

This time a group of Welsh doctors got into trouble for their online banter and use of “offensive” terms. One doctor tweeted about covering the “birthing shed” meaning maternity ward, then went on to say he would prefer to avoid the “madwives” and work on the “cabbage patch” (intensive care).

Every business has its humour and in-jokes, but exposing it to public scrutiny can be a risky thing. As we’ve said before, just apply a little common sense… If you tweet as if your grandmother was reading, you won’t go far wrong.

And if you do feel the need to keep records of the conversations your staff are having online, take a look at how CubeSocial tracks and logs all the conversations your staff have with clients and contacts. A great start on the road to good social media governance.

How and why Lawyers use Twitter

clip_image001This time last week the Corporate Counsel Forum Europe hastag #ccfe filled my screen. Tim Bratton, General Counsel of the Financial Times, was giving a talk about social media for lawyers and was tweeting live while on stage. Thanks to Twitter I felt like I was there…

As the event kicked off it seemed that Tim, who tweets as legalbrat, had a tough audience:

· kilroyt: Tim has just exposed some of us tweeting in the room. People look suspicious #ccfe

· strong_tim: Being watched curiously by colleagues… #ccfe

· toyboxstudio: I imagine there’s a combination of childlike excitement (@bazv / @legalbrat) and “plausible deniability” (the old guard) at #ccfe now

But was presenting a compelling case for social media:

· chrisdaleoxford: World has changed. @legabratshows video about news, its immediacy and effect on markets, politics etc #ccfe

· chrisdaleoxford: FT using social media channels as channel for subscribers, to create content, to source stories #ccfe

· kilroyt: Tim explaining tangible benefits of social media (legal romanettes here): (i) Network (ii) Know-how (iii) crowdsourcing (iv) blogs #ccfe

If you see value in networking, you should see value in social media:

· chrisdaleoxford: Everyone here sees value of personal networking at conferences. Social media, @legalbratimplies, is that value multiplied #ccfe

· kilroyt: If you turn up for 2 days here in person, why not listen to expertise from the same community on social media? #ccfe

· HelenJThomson: Sounds like @legalbrat is on the money at #ccfe – if you see the value in personal networking, surely social media is a logical extension?

Why lawyers use Twitter

Tweeted responses to Tim asking the question as legalbrat:

· New business opportunities
robertcumming: I picked up some instructions via Twitter for a global client last week #ccfe #smug
law4mumpreneurs: for me twitter is an essential business tool enabling me to gain 70+ clients in just over a year of working part time #ccfe
saysitstraight: I have written for The Lawyer, Estates Gazette and Daily T as a direct result #ccfe

· Network and community
bazv: greatly expanded network. Have met friends and colleagues in US & UK wld never have met otherwise. #ccfe
saysitstraight: it’s a community and the usual lawyer posturing not generally present #ccfe
chrisdaleoxford: Where else can you chat with a QC, journalist, partner, trainee [or] CG anywhere in the world #ccfe
in_house_lawyer: #ccfe It saves time. I’ve received helpful advice in minutes to my SOS tweets which would otherwise have taken hours of research

· Keeping in touch
jcasalmir: Critical legal developments are starting to break first on Twitter before other places
Oxfordlawyer: #ccfe good source of knowhow and good insight into clients
jon_bower: it’s the most effective way to keep up to date with breaking news across a number of areas both legal (and social!) #ccfe
dieterdelarue: because it’s fun, keeps us up to date, lets us keep clients and peers up to date, and because @allenovery encourages it #ccfe

Managing Confidentiality

Responses to kilroyt asking “do people observe the boundaries?”:

· _millymoo: if lawyers or other professionals are tweeting confidential info, the problem is in the chair, not the channel #ccfe

· HighlandLawyer: If the client could identify themself from what you’ve said, you’ve gone beyond the boundaries… #ccfe

· LegalBizzle: But how much genuinely confidential info can you fit in 140 chars? #ccfe
kilroyt: @LegalBizzle Less than on the phone and we’re not monitoring all their calls #ccfe

· rht73: don’t think lawyers are the concern for Tweeting confidential information, same rules as for any comms #ccfe

· danversbaillieu: Lawyers make good tweeters because we’re trained to be discreet and respect confidentiality #ccfe

Closing Remarks

· kilroyt: Tim summarizes benefits as “Network, Knowledge and Sharing” #ccfe

· LegalWeek: If just 5 percent of us started blogging think of all the expertise that would be out there available for free #ccfe

· robobooth: Is fact #ccfe has just moved to joke telling sign of just how varied use of social media can be? From serious to jokes in mins. No bad thing

And when I tweeted to ask “What do the colleagues who were watching on curiously at the beginning now think?”:
strong_tim: Mostly unconvinced… fun to try… some will have got the message… Anyway, don’t want everyone from my line of work on here just yet. I want to be a legal pioneer for a bit longer!

Ambush Marketing: The Accidental Twitter Ambush


Watching my Twitter feed in February, I noticed a few tweets from CubeSocial founder Linda Cheung and came across a tweetup (a real world meet-up that occurs as a consequence of Twitter) that was being organised on the back of attendance at the LEX 2011 conference.

I couldn’t have envisioned the impact of the tweetup until I spoke with Linda a few weeks later. Linda wasn’t attending the LEX conference (like most start-ups, her company was working to a tight budget) but knew that Brian Inkster was attending. So they arranged an informal meeting on Twitter after day one of LEX. 

Rightly using the hashtag for the conference (#LEX2011) in the tweets, the conversation was quickly picked up by others in Linda and Brian’s networks and, brilliantly, by other conference attendees.

By the power of viral, the tweetup became more popular than the conference itself! As the tweetup grew, #Lex2011tweetup trended above the official conference. More and more attendees signed up for the tweetup and many thought it was part of the official conference.

I started to get a little excited about this – that will be the marketer in me….

Linda unintentionally ambushed the conference. She also got to meet the people she wanted without paying conference fees.

Well done Linda! Many a marketer would love to claim this fame.

Ambush marketing

Linda’s success got me thinking more about ambush marketing.

Using the official conference or event hashtag you could literally tweet yourself into affiliation. You could even run an unofficial parallel event.

One of my PhD colleagues was unintentionally affiliated with a conference. She commented on a Tweet with the official conference hashtag and was subsequently mentioned in blogs concerning the conference and gained new Twitter followers.

Twitter is allowing us to reach places, people and events where we would not normally have a huge impact. Linda’s ambush tweetup is a great tangible example of the opportunities Twitter can provide. So, can we really use Twitter as a new ambush marketing strategy?

I’ve yet to test but I would think success would be dependent on:

  • The event and your perceived link to the event
  • The ambush, what you are trying to arrange
  • The content of your Tweets (no sales pitches)

Have you willingly or unwillingly ambushed an event through Twitter?  It would be great to hear your stories.

This is a guest post by Jillian Ney. Jillian is a doctoral researcher and marketing tutor at the University of Strathclyde. Jillian’s research explores the use of social media in purchase decisions.

(Image: axle81401)

Discover Where Your Clients Hang Out on Social Media

You want to use social media to market your business… But where and how should you start?

Should you spend your time on Twitter, Facebook or something else? And how do you begin to get followers and fans?

Starting from an email address, what you’d like to know is: Does my contact have a Facebook account? Do they have a Twitter account, LinkedIn account or any other social media site?

Of the major sites, only Facebook lets you search for a user specifically by email address.

Find a Person on Facebook by Email Address

You can search for someone of Facebook at<email>. For example, to find Robert Scoble on Facebook you’d enter


Find People on Twitter and LinkedIn

Neither LinkedIn nor Twitter allow you to search for someone by email address. They both though allow you to import your contacts from various other services and automatically invite them all to join. That’s not necessarily what you want to do though. And what about all the other services out there? Google+, Flickr, YouTube, FourSquare… this list goes on.

If only there was a way to easily discover where your existing clients and contacts hang out on social media…

Social Profile Discovery

When we created CubeSocial’s social profile discovery service we wanted to solve just this problem. CubeSocial lets you to upload a list of email addresses, and then simply sit back while it does the hard work of searching the internet for social profiles and creating a contact cards for all your contacts, just like this one.


What’s more, CubeSocial can locate social profiles on over 100 different services and then summarise where all your contacts are hanging out. This is the summary for our contacts:


When we decided to use social media to connect with our clients we wanted to make sure we were spending our time (and money) in the most effective way. Now we are letting everyone else do that too.

If you haven’t already, give CubeSocial a try. It’s free to sign up. Then let us know what you think via @cubesocial or email.