I am not a scientist. Anyone who has witnessed me gawping at Professor Brian Cox with an expression of utter confusion (and strange, manly affection) will attest to this.
Nevertheless, I have made some, ahem, ‘scientific’ observations about the kinds of corporate marketing approaches that businesses and brands take to their Tweets. And it seems to my thoroughly amateur and rather shambolic eye that there are a few clear categories that emerge.
Allow me to share.
1. The Pups
The businesses that have (possibly foolishly) left their Twitter account in the hands of a boundlessly, bouncingly enthusiastic character. These cheerful ‘Puppies’ then approach each Tweet with such gusto you can practically hear the masses of Twitter misanthropes actively punching themselves in the face.
‘Wow guys! I can see the sun! Look at the sun! It’s so sunny! Do you like the sun? We do! Have great lives!!!!’
2. The Askers
Clearly instructed by a ‘Social Media Guru’ that Twitter is a forum for ‘Dialogue’, ‘Inclusiveness’ and ‘Engagement’ (DIE) these businesses tend to bombard their followers with questions. Any questions. Questions that at times seem so banal and irrelevant that followers are left imagining they are being interviewed by Louise Redknapp.
‘What’s your favourite milk? We like Skimmed.’
3. The ‘Talk to the Hand-ers’
Remarkably some corporate Twitter accounts still seem to be under the misapprehension that Social Media is their own personal online Fiefdom, in which a gaggle of entirely passive followers sit around eagerly anticipating their instructions.
‘Attention unworthy consumers. Our next event will commence on 25th July at 9am. You will attend, participate and encourage others to do so. That is all. Do not contact us.’
(PEDANT NOTICE: the author of this piece is perfectly aware that the above example Tweet is far longer than 140 characters. He would like you to know that he couldn’t give a hoot and thoroughly hopes it has spoiled your day. Many thanks.)
4. The Chit Chatters
At last we come to a group to that deserve a great deal of praise. These are the Twitter accounts that don’t simply start meaningless dialogue to simply ‘tick a box’. They take interest in their followers and ask them relevant questions that reveal consumer attitudes, thoughts and behaviour that will be genuinely useful to the business.
Most importantly they open themselves up to feedback, be it positive or negative, and respond (often very swiftly) with personal and constructive solutions. If we do, as is suggested, now exist in the ‘social media age’ this is arguably the most effective tool for the guardianship of customer loyalty and affinity.
‘@GrumpyJohn Sorry to hear you didn’t enjoy your [THING]. DM us with your details and we’ll get in touch to see how we can help.’
5. The Buccaneers
My heroes. The corporate accounts that have had the boldness to simply put their Twitter feed in the hands of a ‘Maverick’ and let them do their thing.
Without wishing to gush like the ‘superfan’ I so clearly am, the Betfair Poker account (@BetfairPoker) is the benchmark for such an approach – although my old chums at Waterstones are making a splendid effort of it through it’s @WstonesOxfordSt account.
@BetfairPoker in particular is irreverent, unpredictable, original, thoroughly and determinedly unrelated to the product and entirely without any kind of cynical sales or promotion agenda.
What’s more they’re wildly popular and create remarkable word-of-mouth interest. Alongside Professor Brian Cox, I love them dearly.
Andrew Boulton is a copywriter at the Together Agency
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