Michelle Sullivan Communications | Relations publiques - meilleures pratiques

By: Michelle Sullivan  09-12-2011

Is Twitter dangerous? Should agencies ban their reps … particularly their junior reps … from using it?  Or at least stay awake nights fretting about risk? Lately, there have been a slew of Twitter-related PR gaffes by unlucky (or irresponsible or unenlightened) PR types that have made senior agency and in-house executives particularly uneasy. But is their fear misplaced?

Let’s recap:

While I’m of the mind that these incidents speak more to very poor judgement than to the perils of Twitter, and that instilling solid values is what agencies should do to ensure their employees communicate professionally no matter the communications channel, there are a few things you can do to ensure this kind of slip up doesn’t happen at your PR agency:

2. Be transparent: While it’s not  best practice, many brands turn a portion … if not all … of their tweeting responsibility over to their PR agencies. They should do so transparently, ensuring tweets are identified; using initials is standard practice.  At least this way followers can identify the actual source and not necessarily link it to the brand (in an ideal world, anyway). It might help if accidents happen.

3. Remember crisis management 101: Own up to the error and, if possible and appropriate, keep a sense of humour about it. Social media is fluid and moves quickly. A well placed mea culpa and a bit of self-effacing humour can go a long way to quickly cooling off a heated crisis.

4. Think twice before hitting submit, share or reply: do you really want to spew venom through social media channels when you’re managing accounts that aren’t your own? Don’t let momentary rage or frustration get in the way of good client relations and a reputation you’ve cultivated over time.

5. Be prepared: Maintaining an active Twitter presence, becoming part of the community and ensuring your brand’s account always has a human face is the best way to ensure your Twitter account isn’t seen as the impersonal mouthpiece of a faceless corporation. The community understands that to err is human, so be human.

As for the Duke Nukem example, threatening people, online or off,  usually isn’t the best course of action. Just saying.

has been a tabloid favourite for years … unfortunately for . This week has seen the American actor on a media tour, appearing on daytime and late night television talk shows from , to , to .

According to Mashable:

Haven’t had your fill of Charlie Sheen’s rants? Now you can get them via 140-character messages, because the actor’s Twitter handle has officially been confirmed.

In a matter of minutes, Sheen has acquired more than 60,000 followers and a Klout score of 57 — without even tweeting.

Within the hour, Sheen’s account had risen to 133,644 followers. Twelve minutes later, those figures had ballooned to 147,149, an increase of 14 000+. Still not a single tweet.

What does this mean for the credibility of tools like Klout that measure online influence? It means that they measure influence based exclusively on quantity, and not quality. It means that they don’t take much else into account (if anything).

. A series of four automated bots, tweeting relative nonsense, quickly attracted followers (mostly other bots) and reached a Klout score of 51, 37, 26 and 25 respectively. That last first figure is higher than and either higher or slightly lower than that of other Montreal influencers and early-Twitter adopters like tech bloggers and , and fashion blogger (CindyLou of  ).

What does this mean for you?

Well … it’s important, as in everything, to be critical in our use of tools that measure social media influence. Klout is only one example of many. No tool is perfect. These tools should be used as part of a larger mix. They should provide guidance, but not represent a bible of online influence measurement.

If you’re selling green glowing snow-ball abacuses, do you want to reach out to these three Twitter users? Or do you want to reach out to Charlie Sheen?

I think the answer is clear.

Will I continue to use Klout? Absolutely … as I always have. With a grain of salt. As a jumping off point. As one measurement tool among the many which — along with my knowledge of online networks and my own judgement — allow me to create a portrait of the online influencer I may present to my client in an influencer audit or as a possible participant in a blogger outreach campaign.

Online tools are great, but in the end nothing beats experience and human judgement.

* Note: To his  credit, Klout founder and CEO Joe Fernandez responded to Adriaan Pelzer’s assertion that Klout is broken in the blog post’s comments section as follows:

Hey Adriaan,

I am one of the cofounders and the ceo here at Klout. This is a great post, even though we get slammed

A couple things:

- Clearly there is more we can do to recognize and punish bots. This is something we are working on and I think you’ll be impressed with what we have coming. That said, this is an incredibly hard problem that even Twitter still has trouble with (judging from the clear spam bots I see following me and not disappearing).

We have a science team working on stuff like this on a daily basis. Post like this get us really fired up so I am excited about your challenge to step our game up.

Would love to chat sometime about how we can throw some data your way for some more independent testing.


Vous êtes occupés. Vous avez des projets importants à lancer, une stratégie à implanter, des employés à gérer. Vous n’avez tout simplement pas le temps pour les médias sociaux. Ou même pour les considérer.

Votre marque doit être protégée à tout prix. Vos secrets industriels sont trop importants pour que vous preniez le moindre risque qu’un employé fasse fausse route et dévoile vos stratégies à la compétition sur Facebook ou dans son blogue. La transparence et l’authenticité? Jamais de la vie.

Vous devrez simplement continuer à communiquer comme avant, c’est tout et ça finit là.

Votre entreprise doit être pas mal plus occupée que l’armée américaine. Et ses secrets encore plus sensibles.

You already know that communicating your organisation’s messages is important. Today, it takes more than press releases to successfully communicate. Being an effective Army communicator today relies on proactive planning, nesting messages, engaging audiences on a variety of platforms, monitoring what is being said both online and in traditional media, and taking a proactive role in telling the Army’s story.


Our Soldiers and their Family members are the strength of our nation. Nine years of persistent conflict have shaped our shared experiences, which can be told through the social media platforms to assist those new to our Army Family. This builds resiliency in the force and makes our Army strong. Soldiers have always been and always will be our greatest story tellers, and social media tools allow us to tell their story more effectively.

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