Brand engagement with Twitter

twitter-logo1Twitter is blogging only on a small scale. Labelled as micro-blogging Twitter asks the question ‘what are you doing?’ to which people write commentary in 140 characters or less. The value of this popular utility comes from the creation of your own micro-community of followers and of those you follow.

This popularity has grown since it came online back in 2006. In recent months this popularity has exploded away from the early adopters as it has been embraced by the main stream. Whether its politicians, TV presenters, sports personalities or just Joe the plumber it seems everyone has something to ‘tweet’ about.

Most people you talk to who don’t twitter always come back with the same answer when asked, ‘what do you think twitter is used for?’ They say it’s for chatting with your friends and while to a certain extent this is true this is what generates the mass of banal and common place chat that you find on Twitter. But if you go beyond that it is, in fact so much more than just a place to chat, it’s about self brand and promoting yourself whether you are a large corporation or an individual. There is so much collective insight and collective wisdom on Twitter that if you know where to look and if you know how to Twitter to your followers it can be such a rich resource.

Brands need to look at Twitter and see how it could potentially help, improve and enhance how they currently communicate with their customers and users. A brand manager’s approach into the world of twitter has to be based around achieving sound business objectives. No matter whether you want to support, inform, educate or assist your users, how you engage through Twitter needs to always aim at achieving your business objective while fulfilling your user’s needs.

Then it’s a case of getting the pitch of the comments right. They have to be friendly, conversational, transparent, regular and relevant. As there are no hard and fast rules you will have to learn as you go, working out what works and what doesn’t for you, your audience and your brand.

There are particular strategies that can be adopted to help communicate in a more effective manner, 4 are listed here:

  1. The use of the ‘Retweet’ is when one user copies the tweet of someone in their network and shares it with their network. It’s word of mouth marketing working at its best as valuable content and messages get passed from network to network.
  2. You can use trend monitoring tools such as Twitter Search, Twist or url tracking site Backtweets as brand barometers so you can see what people are tweeting about and more specifically search what volume of people are talking about your brand. If there is volume related to your brand you can then choose to enter the conversation if you wish.
  3. You could also use Twitter as a ‘help desk’ to quickly communicate with, and help solve the problems of individuals.
  4. Or you can simply use Twitter as an opportunity to give simple, concise and relevant updates to your network.

There are some fantastic case studies that demonstrate the influence of Twitter if used in the correct manner. The story of how the Ford Motor Companies head of social media, Scott Monty, used Twitter to avert a potential PR disaster is certainly worth a looking over.

It could also be argued that Twitter lends itself more readily to campaigns or smaller brands that sit underneath a larger brands umbrella, but looking at the stats there are some big brands using Twitter with healthy networks. Starbucks currently have 73,000 followers, Apple Inc have 9500, Virgin America have 5788 and Orange have 705. These guys have something to say and say it regularly. It’s not all joy though as Skittles recently found out when the integration of their live, unmoderated, Twitter homepage feed was hijacked by some users who wrote some pretty shocking comments.

Above all else, the same has to be said for micro-blogging as has been said for blogging; the frequency and the responsiveness of tweets is key. If the decision is taken to use Twitter then the commitment has to be there to sustain the presence within Twitter. If you join Twitter then it becomes part of the representation of your brand promise and therefore if you fail on that commitment you fail your brand promise and you run the risk of alienating your users.


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