It should not take 22 people to tweet

The University of North Carolina has released a study on the use of Twitter in the 2012 Presidential Election. Perhaps the most interesting tidbit is this: by the end of the Romney campaign, it took 22 people to approve a tweet. Yes, that’s right, it took the same amount of people that it takes to play a professional football game (on both teams!) to approve the use of @MittRomney.

Among other gems from the study:

  • Staff felt limited by campaign bureaucracy and unable to use social media with adequate speed.
  • The best tweets were sent by 17 people (gee, that’s it?)
  • In an effort to get around the approval process, staff began using pre-approved press releases.
  • The Obama campaign had the autonomy to use social media much quicker, giving them added speed and agility.

It’s astounding that anyone thought this was a good management process. No social media use should ever have to fly through such an insane approval process, though generally speaking, at this high a level, some kind of approval is needed. Here are some ways to streamline the process:

1) You must trust your team: Ultimately, if you don’t trust the people who are using social media on your behalf, you have the wrong people in place. You have to make sure that the people on your team are trustworthy, smart and able to speak on behalf of your brand or candidate.

2) Strong guidelines: Strong guidelines about what content is and is not acceptable are critical to making sure that your team is staying within the realm of what is and is not approved.  Among the items that should be addressed in these guidelines:

  • Things you cannot talk about
  • Tone
  • Pre-approved content
  • How to handle comments – both positive and negative
  • Under what circumstances comments can be deleted or blocked

3) Minimal approval process: If an approval process is absolutely necessary, you need to streamline it and keep as few people involved as possible. Additionally, make sure that those who are involved in the process know to respond as quickly as possible. Speed is vital with social media, and if you cannot respond quickly, you lose one of social media’s primary benefits.

Setting up an appropriate approval process is necessary for higher-level Twitter users, but much of the time, particularly with local or smaller offices, one person should be fine.  Twitter isn’t rocket science. It just requires common sense, good guidelines and the flexibility to work.

What do you think – any other tips to add when it comes to social media use? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

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