eAnswers - Branding on Twitter
Q: What do you recommend in terms of structuring your social media communications for a single brand on Twitter? One person (@sharpiesusan), multiple people (@zappos), one brand (@pepsi), multiple channel brands (like Dell does)?”
A: I hate to say it depends, but it depends. Always start with the strategic objective. If you’re trying to build a brand or defend your brand against negativity, then a company-branded Twitter account makes the most sense. If you want to promote a specific feature of your business — such as outstanding customer service — then a Twitter feed devoted to customer satisfaction makes sense. If you want to tell the world about the smart and interesting people you employ — and perhaps look bigger than you really are — using multiple accounts makes sense.
You can have multiple Twitter accounts for one company. Maybe one is devoted to news, another to promotions and a third to insights about your market. A multichannel strategy like Dell’s is most appropriate for large companies that serve several significant markets. In that case, the company is trying to reach different constituencies with focused messages that are appropriate to each. Channel partners, corporate customers and budget-conscious consumers, for example, each get their own Twitter feeds because their needs are so different. If Dell tried to serve all those constituencies with a single account, it would overload its followers with information that doesn't interest them.
If you use a single voice, make it distinctive. As difficult as that is in 140 characters, it can be done. Your voice is a combination of content, tone, attitude, even the times of day you tweet. Be playful, offbeat or irreverent. You’re competing against an ever-flowing stream of comments, so you need to say memorable things in order to stand out.
Just because you start with one strategy doesn’t mean you need to stick with it. If people are responding to your tweets about recipes, then set up a recipe account. Or maybe you want to have one account that just sends photos on a service like Twitpic.
Make your messages personal, and avoid using Twitter simply as a newswire. Maybe singer Jason Mraz can get away with that, but you probably can’t. Start conversations, invite responses, ask questions of your followers and challenge them to challenge you. Make this as much of a two-way experience as you can.
Whatever you do, keep your message focused. If tweeting under an organization name, speak on behalf of the entire company, not an individual. If deputizing multiple employees to tweet on their own, be sure they have guiding principles for what to say and what to avoid. Each person should be free to express his or her own personality in a style that feels comfortable, but there should be no confusion about the company mission or message.
—eM+C eExpert Paul Gillin is a writer, speaker and online marketing consultant focusing on social media. His latest book, “Secrets of Social Media Marketing,” was published in fall 2008. Reach Paul at email@example.com.