The Human Touch Matters: What NPR’s Twitter Experiment Means for Small Business


Automation can be a beautiful thing for the small business owners. When it’s possible for technology to take over time-consuming, repetitive tasks, personnel are freed up to devote their time and attention to more profitable endeavors. But can every task be automated?

National Public Radio (NPR) took a look at the value of the human touch in social media over the course of a five day experiment. Rather than having automated systems automatically update their Twitter stream as news stories went on the air, NPR has a live staffer manually create and post Tweets and replies throughout the working day.

The result? NPR saw a 45% increase in traffic to their website from their Twitter stream. The @NPRNews account gained more than 5,000 followers – a 14% increase over the week before. Clearly, there was greater response to and engagement with Tweets created by human beings. This engagement came with a cost: the team in charge of the experiment reported that a significant portion of their day was consumed by Twitter. Monitoring a Twitter stream, composing and posting relevant Tweets, and interacting with followers can be an all-day endeavor.

Obviously, if an organization the size of NPR can’t afford to maintain a full-time human Twitter presence, the typical small business won’t be able to either. However, there are steps you can take to add a meaningful human touch to your Twitter presence:

  • Check in at least daily to respond to Tweets made to or about your company.
  • Retweet Tweets that discuss your company favorably.
  • Use a conversational, upbeat tone when composing Tweets.
  • Use images and video often: behind-the-scenes pictures help build brand loyalty!
  • Schedule some live-tweeting into your weekly routine. Consider what goes on in your business that would make a good Twitter feature – anything that would be fun and different for your customers.

Twitter’s recent reorganization makes it a much more image-driven platform than ever before. Original content continues to be highly valued, especially the humorous and thought-provoking. Ideally, you’ll want to be sharing at least 3-5 Tweets with your audience daily. Need help making this happen? Find out more about our social media management services.

The Human Touch Matters: What NPR’s Twitter Experiment Means for Small Business
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The Human Touch Matters: What NPR’s Twitter Experiment Means for Small Business
Automation certainly helps businesses cut out tedious tasks to free up their employees, but some activities - like Twitter - need the human touch!

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