“We need to be on Twitter,” cries the CEO. But for how long, and what will it do to the brand long term?

The consistent cry from boards and management interested in the Internet is the always ‘the latest thing’. Today, it’s Twitter. But the Internet has bad habits. It keeps check of what you do. It crawls, catalogues and communicates all the past ‘latest things’.

That’s right. Those things. Those ‘not latest’ things. The things you were doing yesterday. They are still there.

See, social media isn’t a campaign. It’s a habit.

No. Actually, it’s a strategic, long term commitment to your customers. No matter what you do with Twitter today, it is what you do with Twitter tomorrow that truly reflects the brand experience you will deliver to your customers. Let me explain …

Not so long ago the CEO yelled “We need a Corporate Blog”. Remember that? You engaged you customers, talked to them online, had actual, real dialogue and looked pretty cool.

From HP we saw one of the best deliveries that engaged customers with thought leadership, analysis, new technology and better still employee input. Great brand building stuff knowing the quality of technology was backed up by excellent people who could deliver on the brand promise. And so it went for a time. And then the cobwebs set in.

The top link for the employee blog goes back to last November. The blog is forgotten. Are the customers forgotten? No. HP is still doing some great things but the employee blog is yesterdays news. Unfortunately for me this was lost and I only hunted the good oil out because I was writing this. For everyone else visiting that page it shows HP to be one year old.

For anyone seeing a forgotten blog page it tells the visitor that the business doesn’t want to engage anymore. Worst of all, it conveys a company that was on the edge, but now they are being left behind because they have no follow through. Who wants to be with a brand like that?

HP is not alone. The Join Barclays Blog from the US telling us what it is like to join the company is – well – not assuring. You have to wonder why they bothered. The Victoria Beckham blog hasn’t progressed since May because someone can’t be bothered adding a redirect into the DNS to the new blog. This list could become very long.

So if you want your brand to say ‘can’t be arsed’, ‘sorry, I was interested in talking to you but now I’m busy’ or in some cases ‘we can’t finish what we started’ remember to get on Twitter. You might just be featuring in post here real soon. Just remember with Twitter, corporate blogs and any other social media your response, or lack thereof, lives forever and becomes fodder for commentators like me.

That is unless you are genuinely interested in talking to and engaging with your customers. More importantly, listening to your customers. A bit like a call centre or retail customer service desk. If that is the case, get a plan together, resource it properly, encourage feedback and stick with it. Twitter is a great tool to engage. So are corporate blogs. But the engagement isn’t contained in a magic box. It is entirely up to you…