All companies simply must get up to speed on Twitter

We've said it before, but we'll say it again: You have to be on Twitter. But in the very least, you must monitor the site for your brands and the issues affecting them. This is particularly true of consumer-focused brands, and those in public affairs.

We've said it before, but we'll say it again: You have to be on Twitter. But in the very least, you must monitor the site for your brands and the issues affecting them. This is particularly true of consumer-focused brands, and those in public affairs.

Two weekends ago, an online ad for Johnson & Johnson's pain reliever Motrin caused a furor in the blogosphere, on Twitter in particular. Conversations raced back and forth as some marketers and others took sides with moms who found the ad condescending and out of touch. Because a Tweet takes a mere 140 characters or less, it was easy for the news to spread quickly, and that includes not only to the public, but also to the number of influencers on the site, like reporters.

As a sort of hyper-RSS feed, many are now using Twitter as their 24/7 newspaper. J&J certainly noticed the accumulation of conversations about its brand, which was tracked on Twitter with the hash tag “motrinmoms” to help interested parties follow the conversation. The ad was quickly pulled from the company's site and replaced with an apology. “We have heard you,” it read.

Because relationship-building is so important to PR, Twitter offers some great benefits. It provides immediate and honest feedback on a brand. It offers a way to reach influencers and keep abreast of trends and news. And it serves as a means to respond quickly to customers – all the more important to a generation that finds even e-mail too slow.

Comcast is one brand that has already taken steps to improve its reputation through Twitter. The ComcastCares Twitter account, managed by its director of digital care, Frank Eliason, has garnered goodwill even among some of the social media elite by responding – sometimes within minutes – to Tweets that complained about the company.

Wise companies will follow the example of Comcast and others on Twitter. Pay attention, engage, and take action.

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