There’s no denying that Twitter is a fantastic social platform for brands of any size, particularly small or new businesses trying to make a name for themselves. It opens up a world of promotional and networking opportunities, and the best part? It’s free. However, it’s not enough to simply open a Twitter account and post randomly about what your business has been up to. In fact, Twitter needs strategy and patience to work well, and there are a lot of brands guilty of using it in the wrong way. In recent years, some businesses have even risked their company’s entire reputation through the mistakes they’ve made on Twitter.
“But I would never spam my followers!” we hear you protest. And we’re sure you wouldn’t – in a more traditional sense. But due to the nature of Twitter, there’s a fine line between reasonable promotional activity and coming across as overly salesy and spammy.
Remember that Twitter is traditionally a social platform for consumers to communicate, rather than a promotional one for businesses. Consumers aren’t always looking for a sales message to be forced upon them. Instead, make sure to engage with your community in a natural, authentic way and add genuinely useful, non-sales content to your social plan for balance.
Twitter is the original home of the viral campaign, and many brands try to hop on the bandwagon while everyone is talking about a particular trend. In many cases, this can work to add your two pence to a timely conversation and bring more attention to your brand in a topical way. This is known as “agile marketing”, and requires a quick wit to be successful.
However, the hashtags you respond to need to be chosen carefully. There’s no point bringing more attention to your brand if your message is completely irrelevant, and this can make your business appear a bit clueless. A now infamous example is Cellecta Insulation’s response to the #givegregtheholiday trend that swept the internet last May. When Greg Heaslip’s leave request was accidentally sent to thousands of Arcadia Group employees by his Line Manager, thousands took to Twitter to help his holiday get approved. Brands weighed in on the campaign, offering free clothes and toiletries for his holiday, and revelled in the coverage. Cellecta Insulation inexplicably offered Greg free soundproofing before his holiday. Not only was the tweet wildly irrelevant and pointless, it made the brand look a little bit desperate. (For those wondering – Greg did get his holiday!)
Unprofessional tweets can spoil the good name you’ve worked so hard to build up.
Yes, your tone on social media is likely to a little bit less formal than your other communications, as you don’t want your tweets to sound robotic. But one thing businesses do need to make sure is that they balance this informality with staying true to the values of the brand. Try not to wade in on controversial arguments or attempt to fight back against customer complaints.
Ask yourself whether you want your Twitter feed to be a customer service platform or not. Directing customers to a phone line or your website is fine and shows customers you’re listening, but engaging in conversations over complaints soon fills up your wall with negativity. It’s also important to make sure all employees are aware of your best practice guidelines on Twitter – Chrysler and Vodafone are just two big name brands who have suffered after employees have posted questionable tweets from their official accounts.
A lot of brands take our first point very seriously – and practice some serious out of the box thinking when it comes to the content they post on their social channels. This can have a unique and effective outcome, but often also results in tenuously linked content, which followers of that brand aren’t actually that interested it. For example, if you’re a plumber in Peterborough, posting about the opening of a new park in the area – though interesting – probably isn’t too relevant. In essence, it’s not what customers want or expect to see from your company.
A prime example of this came from Audi. The car manufacturer recently launched a social campaign to promote its new A3 Sedan, asking customers to post their stories about overcoming adversity, with the most inspiring being interpreted by artists during a live event. A nice idea – but it didn’t really have much to do with cars, which is what Audi social media followers really wanted to see. Their dissatisfaction was reflected in significant follower drop-off and negative comments.