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When @RGA met @MotherLondon (or how to win at agency Twitter)

When R/GA met Mother London

The official Twitter accounts of R/GA and Mother London are two of the best in the business: in a sea of corporate retweets and bland hyperlinking, these agency handles have each honed the art of 280 characters to develop clear personalities.

What’s their secret? The Drum asked the managers behind the accounts to interview each other – on direct message, naturally – to unmask the strategy behind a solid agency Twitter page.

@TheDrum: R/GA meet Mother. Mother meet R/GA. Why don't you guys introduce yourselves?

@MotherLondon: This feels like a very strange Bumble scenario.

@RGA: Uhhh, hi. I'm Chapin [Clark].

I am an ECD focused on social content at R/GA NY.

And a copywriter by trade.

I've been here for 17+ years.

And have been doing the Twitter for 10.

@MotherLondon: We have three PR people running the account.

Eighteen years is impressive. Mother is only 21 years old.

@RGA: "Impressive" is one word for it. I feel like it's reached a point where people look at me like I'm crazy when I tell them that.

Like, their eyes bug out.

@MotherLondon: But do you get dental cover? Dental is important in the US, no?

@RGA: I do have dental insurance, yes!

@MotherLondon: Congratulations.

@RGA: So, with multiple people, how do you guys post to the Twitter account? Do you meet and decide what you'll post for the day? Or is it a more real-time thing?

@MotherLondon: It is usually a fight to the death.

@RGA: That's too bad. I mean, it's just Twitter.

@MotherLondon: It’s also whoever is online and in internet reach. We don't have hard and fast rules. Just to make sure our mums wouldn't get offended.

@RGA: That sounds like a good standard.

@MotherLondon: We usually write in the style of our mums. (Or moms as you may say.)

@RGA: I think the tone for us is more "things I wished I could say directly to my family but was too repressed/WASPy/anxious to do so." I would have had a much healthier relationship with them we just typed.

@MotherLondon: Have you tried communicating with them just via Twitter? It could work.

@RGA: You know, things have improved since we started texting. It is all about the family groups. So much admin is so much easier now.

@TheDrum: Honestly, how hard do you guys try to be funny online?

@RGA: Not hard enough.

@MotherLondon: You can never try to be funny *shudder*.

@RGA: Serious answer: there is so much that is ridiculous in the world and in our business that you don't have to try that hard.

@MotherLondon: The old "shine a light" strategy, it works every time.

So, agency on a Friday at 4pm: what’s the vibe?

@RGA: Focused, driven. Relentless.

@MotherLondon: Interesting...

@RGA: jkjk

@TheDrum: So, how much would each of you say you tweet about "advertising", as opposed to everything else?

@RGA: For me the mix changes, but in general I'd say maybe 80% ad stuff and office life stuff, 20% "other".

And the "other" is cultural stuff that I would argue is relevant to advertising.

@MotherLondon: The work comes first, everything else second. It all depends what is going on in the outside or advertising worlds. With the current state of UK discourse, we tend to try and search out the higher ground. It can otherwise get scary, very quickly.

@RGA: It can be tricky talking about our own work, just given client sensitivities, some companies don't want to talked about, etc. So talking about things more generally, or about things outside of what's going on at our agency, can be freeing.

Also I think too much self-promotion is a drag.

@The Drum: Why don't more agencies use Twitter in the way that you both do?

@MotherLondon: Perhaps they’re scared they might like it? But in all seriousness, we don’t have to answer to anyone but our clients, and ourselves. Other folks I suppose might have to stay within the lanes that are drawn for them.

@RGA: I think too many companies still treat it like a traditional one-way, top-down comms channel. Another place for press releases. And that's not what it is. I believe that if you are a brand, or any kind of corporate entity, you have to start with the assumption that no one wants you here. You are unwelcome. So you have to do something to earn your place, whether that's being entertaining or funny, or delivering information people can't easily get anywhere else, or providing something useful. Otherwise you're invisible. Or worse, an irritant. (Or maybe being invisible is worse, idk. Anyway, they're both bad.)

@TheDrum: Do you ever view the agency Twitter account as a bonding platform for your agency staffers? Do they ever interact with your handle?

@RGA: Yes, absolutely. Which is something that gives me great pleasure. It's been a great way to meet people, actually. As the agency has grown and expanded into new markets, it's helped me stay connected to what's going on.

@MotherLondon: Yeah, we often have chats on here with our people. Usually on the lighter side of conversation, nothing too serious. That would be a bit too Big Brother.

@TheDrum: What's been the best tweet your account has ever posted?

@RGA: I'm not sure what the best is engagement-wise. I'm not big on the numbers. But this one did pretty well and is one I like:

@MotherLondon: That's a good one.

@RGA: I just want to take this time to say I, like many people, loved the FCK apology ad.

So simple, so good, so well crafted. Sincere but also with some wit. How often do you see a brand do a mea culpa like that? Never.

@MotherLondon: Thanks for that. It was a particularly testing time for KFC in the UK. I think this is our fave tweet, probably not the most engagement, but it is visually pleasing:

@RGA: Haunting.

@MotherLondon: Motherween is a pretty big night, so people tend to go "all out" in the costume stakes.

@RGA: When prospective clients come to Mother, or invite Mother to a pitch, what do you think they are looking for? (besides free work)? jkjk. That never happens. Forget I said that.

@MotherLondon: The free work, is a given. LOL Seriously though, they are usually attracted by our work – and every client has a different piece of work that speaks to them. Then once they're through the door, it's all about the people. (I would say this but) people tend to be nice at Mother – everyone gets on and we look out for each other. Including the clients we work with. For RGA, what's the most enjoyable thing about the agency? They're doing something right, if you've been there for 17+ years, so what is it that keeps you happily writing?

@RGA: For me, two things: the culture is all about embracing change. So whether it's a new technology or app or media platform, rather than ignoring it and hoping it goes away, or feeling threatened by it, we jump in and start experimenting, building with it, talking about how to use it for our clients (or not, if it's not right). That keeps things fresh. The further you get into your career, it keeps your skills sharp. And then there's the people. At 100 employees total or 1,500, we've always managed to attract a really interesting mix of smart, sometimes brilliant, people from disparate backgrounds who want to collaborate and who care about doing great work. I would echo your observation about "getting on." The culture here is one of mutual respect. There is very little tolerance for diva-ish behavior, or any kind of meanness or hazing. Everyone does something. Everyone has a craft, and even the most senior people will roll their sleeves up in the interest of getting things done.

@TheDrum: Let's end on a high note – tell me your best joke.

@RGA: Oh God. I'm not a great joke teller.

@MotherLondon: I'm neither, more reacting to situations with humour.

@TheDrum: Well that went well. I'm glad we ended on such a laugh.

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