I know many people who read my posts here, particularly in and associated with housing, are also active on Twitter. It’s becoming an important additional means of communicating with tenants, leaseholders and other customers, which these days can no longer be ignored. With some RSLs I work with, I am spotting new KPIs, relating to number of staff on Twitter, active users, monthly tweets, new follows and re-tweets. It's good to see housing associations taking that channel seriously.
Only this week, we hear that Bromford Group are now only recruiting people to their Innovation lab, only via Twitter. See http://paulbromford.wordpress.com/2014/05/09/why-the-bromford-innovation-lab-is-only-recruiting-via-twitter/. Not surprising from one of the housing organisations fully out there on Twitter, but imagine that, your history, views and feelings about work, innovation etc, assessed not from your CV, but from your Twitter feeds?
I was talking with some staff from one of the more forward thinking Housing system suppliers last week about this. Software solutions are out there to automatically reply and filter received tweets or ones utilising defined hashtags/search terms. For example search Twitter for 'house plumbing landlord' which will give you a feel for the vitriol that can be whipped up. If a tweet is received, it could be filtered and an alert generated to a designated member of staff. One of the points of twitter is that it is a 24 hour / 365 phenomena. Also it is not the same as a website or a sales account.
I have many followers on Twitter at @hotpixuk and in general, the most active are those from people rather than organisations. E.G. person A at the CIH or person B at WM housing. If I had a complaint for Virgin Holidays, I might tweet the company, but then a personal Virgin twitter account will reply, probably to take that query off-line. The response will be timely too, maybe in minutes, certainly within half an hour. Twitter is expected to be immediate. If not, depending on the number of followers that complainant has, or hashtag used, others will reply quickly instead.
Housing Organisations who think their Twitter account can be only 9am-5pm weekdays, particularly mentioning that on their profile page, are missing the point and a massive opportunity. Tweets are public too. Its like shouting your issue with a loud hailer in the town square. I will not name any RSL tweeters, but go check your ‘corporate’ Twitter account, see if yours states 9-5. If it does, I suggest you look into it. Even worse, do you open the day with a “Morning, how is everyone today” and close the day with a “Have a good evening, everyone” tweet.
If a number of your staff are on Twitter, are they empowered to use their initiative to respond to a tweet to help? If they are, they can quickly provide outstanding customer service. Ask yourself are your staff enabled to do this? Do they need to go through a comms team and does it take hours or days to reply? Maybe you have too many rules in place? Alternatively should you not be trusting your staff more?
This great diagram from @hackofalltrades I think illustrates the dilemma well.
As can be seen, our problems probably do not relate to social media, they may relate to our organisations. In my experience, give people the tools to excel, encourage them, and they will deliver. Let them drive the bus and we might get to a really wild new destination. If they can't or won't maybe driving or riding on our bus is not actually their bag. *More methods of public transport are available....
A Twitter-storm can easily kick off in an hour or so with a few hundred or thousand people seeing the issue. Witness how fast the Easter Creme Egg for bedroom tax advice story, at V2C got around. Search Twitter for ‘Bedroom Tax Creme Egg’ and you will see how such a vast number of tweeters got in on the act. That included Joe Halewood (prolific bedroom tax tweeter), Rick CampbellInside Housing, BT UK, ITV News, 24Dash and about a thousand more.
Business and commerce is no longer 9-5, nor is housing if you are on Twitter. If you are not equipping, supporting and empowering your staff to go beyond the 9-5, maybe just the managers and directors maybe, then you are missing a trick. If your culture inhibits you doing that, best to leave Twitter until you can go beyond the 9-5. that's what everyone will expect.
You can link with me on LinkedIn here - uk.linkedin.com/pub/tony-smith-bsc-hons-acih/a/979/351/ It would be great to connect
Related Post: I Want To Take You Higher
The Happy Mondays - 24 Hour Party People.
(c) Tony Smith, Acutance Consulting www.acutanceconsulting.co.uk 07854655009
PS As usual, if there are subjects you might like me to tackle on this blog, please get in touch and let me know!
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