Static brands don’t belong on Twitter. Discuss.

I just asked a question on Twitter:

Static brands like Coffee #1 and Clark’s Pies are very dull on Twitter. Besides running promos and RTing complements, what else can they do?

Now, I don’t mean to call out Coffee #1 or Clark’s Pies in particular. (I happen to love coffee and pies, though not necessarily together!) Both of these brands are small, local companies who are interacting with followers. They look and sound professional, and are probably doing everything a ‘social media expert’ would recommend. But the experience of following them can be, to choose a charitable word, repetitive.

Should brands like these be on Twitter? What better ways could static brands take advantage of a fast-moving medium?

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6 thoughts on “Static brands don’t belong on Twitter. Discuss.

  1. Ok, this isn’t an easy thing to do well. But there are some things that such a company could try… Firstly, it makes sense to make it more obvious that there is a real human being writing the tweets. You could add a bit of humour – commenting on the odd-dress-sense of one of your colleagues (or customers?), maybe even to the point of making things up – as long as it’s not to the detriment of the brand. But if you can add some fun, intrigue and personality – so much the better.
    Secondly, be more aware of what else is going on around and about. There are companies that occasionally tweet about their local community – maybe the traffic outside the shop, or some event that passes their shop-front.

    • I just don’t think a coffee shop can tweet like a human being.

      I have seen some brands do a good job though. Zappos were the canonical example, but that worked because it was the account of the company CEO himself. When the company replied to you, you really had the attention of the company, not some low-ranking peon following social media guidelines developed in countless meetings.

      Tweeting as a brand tends to result in bland, humourless tweets out of necessity. For example, if the people who ran @VirginMedia tweeted as real humans, they would be forever telling their customers to ‘fuck off until you can evolve some manners’. Instead, their attempt to be more human results in a regular morning tweet like ‘Well the rain has been replaced with fog but that’s OK, I like fog :) Sam & Pete are here again today, you just can’t get rid of us! ST’ (from this morning). Boring, irrelevant and repetitive. Though at least they have a good reason for being on Twitter – customer support.

      Sorry Howard, I didn’t mean to direct all that at you specifically, I’m just thinking aloud. ;)

  2. I understand the problem. A brand is a fragile thing. But I’m aware that I do follow some small buinesses that use social media in a way that is at least moderately entertaining – and it’s mostly because I get the sense that there is a some flesh and bones at a keyboard – not just a “corporate policy”. For bigger brands like @VirginMedia it wouldn’t work at all, but independant shops can try being “human”.

    One of the other problems is of course – you’ve got to have something *new* to tweet about. (A new promotion, an event or some-such thing) Some businesses lend themselves to this more easily – having seasonal specials or some other driver for such anouncements. Even a pub where they announce a new guest-ale coming on tap has something to announce to their interested followers.
    Examples of businesses (not quite the same as “Brands”, I’ll grant you) that use twitter well: @RulesCardiff, @EmbassyCafe, @TheGoatMajorPub sping to mind…

    (Oh, and I don’t take this as criticism – this is all public discussion.)

    • FWIW, I consider that all companies have a brand, even if they don’t put any direct effort into branding. This might not even be a bad thing: A pub with a charismatic landlord, a chatty barmaid, a good alcohol selection and great food could be considered to have an excellent brand, even if they would never use the word themselves.

      In fact, in that example, those are the core brand values. By this standard, Rules of Play do an excellent job, and it translates perfectly to Twitter. Spillers too.

      If a brand doesn’t fit naturally into what Twitter offers, it’s a bad idea to force your needs onto it.

      Of course, I realise that many companies do exactly this, and can even become quite popular off the back of ‘RT this to win an iPad’ rubbish… so what do I know?

  3. I find it hard to find a reason why a brand would ignore Twitter, it is not just about promotion but also about direct customer feedback/interaction. I think the problem is traditional marketers treat it like an other email marketing campaign method rather than trying to grow a community around the brand.

    • Totally true. I don’t see any problem with any brand being on Twitter to offer another convenient line of communication. I did actually have an exchange with @ClarksPies recently to find out what local chip shops stocked their product.

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