Becca Steele is the Toyota Government Affairs Team’s first digital advocacy strategist, a role the team created to see how it could use digital tools to advance Toyota’s policy goals. One of the digital methods Steele adopted to spread Toyota’s message was a dedicated Twitter account for the company’s government affairs work, @ToyotaPolicy, as a way to meet its desired audience of policy influencers where they are online.
“Political conversations are really happening on Twitter much more so than on any other platform in the Beltway right now,” Steele said. “The audience we really wanted to communicate with was policy influencers, policymakers and their staff, and Twitter was the platform where those types of conversations were happening.”
Learn Steele’s four pieces of advice for running a Twitter account for your government affairs team:
Determine the Story You’ll Tell
For the Toyota Policy team, the story it wants to tell on Twitter was twofold. First, it wants to share how Toyota views legislation that affects its business. Second, it wants to show the impact that Toyota is having on the communities it works in across the country.
“[We’re] bringing the whole Toyota story and bringing that to a Beltway audience. I really encourage folks to think beyond the Beltway in the types of content that they’re sharing,” Steele said. “Twitter can be a place that you can share the fun, interesting, and human side of your company. So, talk about your employees and team members and talk about what they are doing and the different initiatives that you are involved in.”
Engage in Conversations in Real Time
Steele plans out posts in advance for @ToyotaPolicy, but the conversational nature of Twitter requires the ability to be spontaneous as well. Things like investment announcements, events, and site visits, are planned in advance, but spontaneity allows Steele to chime in when Toyota or the issues it cares about are discussed by others on the platform.
“If there’s a conversation happening, there’s news of the day that we feel like impacts us and is important for our audience to know how that would impact our industry, we’ll hop in,” Steele said.”That’s the great thing about Twitter is you can have these engaging real time conversations and contribute your input immediately.”
When Toyota sponsored the Congressional Baseball Game in June 2018, Steele took a creative route to covering the game on @ToyotaPolicy. In the hours leading up to the game, Steele met up with members on each of the rosters during baseball practice and filmed videos and took photos with those who have Toyota facilities in their districts.
“For that, it was an idea that we had and we go in hoping we can make certain types of content happen,” Steele said. “Sometimes great content comes from things that you never thought of or expected and you have to adapt and think about how to incorporate that on the fly.”
Determine Metrics for Success
If your organization is considering a Twitter account for your policy team, its critical to determine how your team will measure success. For Toyota, success is measured by quality of engagements rather than quantity. After each post, Steele looks at who engaged with their tweets, seeking engagements from policy influencers in their target audience. While the team also looks at traditional metrics of likes and retweets, the quality of engaged users is the key metric.
Each piece of Steele’s advice comes back to a central point—Twitter provides a chance to give a human face to the company.
“What is your company’s impact outside of DC and how can you bring that to a Beltway audience?” Steele said. “Sometimes in DC we have the instinct to just talk to ourselves and what’s going on inside the Beltway, but I think the value of the account that we’ve found is bringing the whole Toyota story.”
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