This month, I started work on a major social media initiative for a new client. It’s actually my first large enterprise client — the ninth largest company in its industry in the United States, and further up that scale in the Northeast — and I’m quickly learning that there are both opportunities and challenges inherent in creating an effective social media strategy for a larger corporate entity.
From an open API that allows for third-party apps to connect with Twitter from nearly any internet-enabled device, to a recent three column redesign with in-line rich media displays, Twitter is continuing to grow into one of the most effective online tools a company of any size can use to communicate in real time with its customers.
But are there ways that Twitter could improve or evolve to help businesses — particularly large, enterprise organizations — and their customers connect on a more significant level?
I figured the best folks to ask would be social media professionals who work for or with national, or even global, companies — and they didn’t disappoint.
Scott Monty, Global Digital & Multimedia Communications Manager at Ford, suggests Twitter add “the ability to target updates by geography, like you can with Facebook.” This feature would provide tremendous value for a company that sells different products in different markets — or, conversely, only operates in a specific region.
Aaron Strout, Chief Marketing Officer at the social media marketing firm Powered, Inc — they count Kodak, Sony and HP as satisfied clients — would love a way to combine private and public streams in a single account, giving the user the ability to communicate with internal and external audiences in one stream. “Think Yammer meets Twitter. But with the ability to bounce back and forth (or to do both).”
Amber Naslund, Director of Community at the leading social media monitoring firm in the business, Radian6, suggests “being able to centrally manage and administer corporate accounts among teams.” I could see this feature being especially helpful in a decentralized organization, where many parties work separately on projects and initiatives.
Frank Eliason, SVP of Social at Citi, said, “It is all about the tools and the open API when you have needs others respond, don’t mess with that,” but added he’d like “more power to verify accounts.” Adam Cohen, partner at digital agency Rosetta, agreed: “Some way of ID’ing real users so businesses wouldn’t have to sort through all the noise; a level of authenticated user account?” This is a big difference between Twitter — which only requires a username and email address — and a service like Facebook or LinkedIn, both of which require additional information to create a user profile.
Adam also suggested “a change in how businesses think about Twitter… I also think companies should start to collect Twitter usernames in their CRM databases — they’ll start to see how prevalent usage is of existing customers.”
Frank Days, Director of Social Media for software maker Novell, recommends Twitter “make account verification/authentication available to all businesses.” Having the official “Verified” blue check mark would make it easier for consumers to confirm that they’re dealing with an actual representative of the company, and not an impostor — something that’s entirely possible without a vetting process.
Shannon Paul, Social Media Manager for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, sees numbers as a way to prove the benefit of social media: “Having Google Analytics integration would be helpful. So many stakeholders may not be on Twitter, so seeing search activity and click through would be helpful.”
Mike Langford, who has worked for some of the largest financial services firms in New England and the US, and the founder of Course Pilot Financial, recognizes the unique challenges that companies in a regulated industry — like financial services or pharmaceutical companies — face in using Twitter to reach out to their customers. He says, “Ease of supervision, record keeping and disclosure ability would make tweeting more attractive for big financial firms.
I’m sure there are several more useful features Twitter — or an enterprising app developer or two — could introduce for to provide additional value for businesses. So now I’m asking you: what features would you like to see added to basic Twitter functionality? Do you think Twitter could offer a “Twitter for Enterprise” program with additional features, like the ones listed above — and would you pay for it?
Talk to me in the comments — you never know who might be listening!