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What would Kanye West do? Ten tips for success on Twitter

By Emma Worth, Social media consultant

May 9, 2016 | 8 min read

He may be a controversial figure at times but, with a Twitter following of more than 22 million, it's clear that Kanye West's behaviour on the micro-messaging site can offers clues to brands on how best to leverage the platform. Here's ten of the best...

Emma Worth of Thinking Juice
Emma Worth is a social media specialist with Thinking Juice.

Emma Worth of Thinking Juice

Emma Worth is a social media specialist with Thinking Juice.

Tweeting in anger

The golden rule of using Twitter is DO NOT tweet in anger. It’s unprofessional and it’s not on-brand for anyone. You may say something hurtful or rude but most importantly you say something you wouldn’t have said when calm and you can’t take it back. Kanye is well-known for his angry tweets, shouting in all caps and so on, but it has been known to cause a lot of backlash. People don’t forget and Twitter doesn’t forgive.

@ing

Unless you’re mentioning someone in order to engage them in conversation, praise them, or build a relationship with them (for which Twitter created the ingenious handle mechanism) there isn’t any point in mentioning them. We’ve all seen Kanye throw caution to the wind with his explicit and impulsive mentions (direct or not), only to receive a flood of angry Tweets in response from his target’s angry fans. It’s an efficient way to become hated in seconds, and it does nothing but divide people. Love not war.

Leveraging your product

He may be controversial but Kanye is undoubtedly smart in the way he leverages social media as a viral megaphone. Twitter has become his most accessible (and completely free) tool to increase sales of his albums without having to mention it. He frequently posts tweets with news that he will be ‘dropping’ new music that reach millions of people within seconds. He builds noise for as long as possible until he decides suspense has reached its peak, then he releases it. The same tools are available for brands; it just depends how you use them. Inspire curiosity.

Damaging your identity

When you push the boundaries by communicating something that will make people feel differently about you, it can be extremely damaging for your brand equity. A prime example of this are the public discussions surrounding Kanye’s mental health. There is no reason for this rumour to exist beyond what Kanye himself chooses to share with the world (e.g. asking Mark Zuckerberg for money to solve his debt problems).

Enhancing your identity

There are numerous examples of Kanye apologising for rants he’s shared on Twitter in the past. These show Kanye in a more tolerable light, breaking away from his normal behaviour pattern. Translating this back into the brand world, customer service is an extremely important part of building communities and customer relationships on Twitter. Do not ignore the bad news – engage with it. Apologise for your mistakes with confidence and find transparent ways of resolving issues.

Ranting

Twitter wasn’t designed with ranting in mind, hence the 140-character limit. It was designed to deliver micro-blogging titbits that keep things short and sweet. This way, you only communicate what is necessary. When Kanye sends out endless tweets on an ongoing basis, much of what he is trying to communicate gets lost in translation. Only snippets of his story are heard or understood and it makes the whole experience very complicated for his followers, or followers of his followers who receive the odd random retweet on their timeline.

Authenticity

Don’t try to use Twitter as a means to ‘become’ anything else. Twitter is a unique platform in which you can further demonstrate one voice, your proposition and your tone. It doesn’t matter how well they (the competition) are doing, being authentic will make you better. Kanye does transparency well. It doesn’t always benefit him, but he’s never trying to be anybody or anything else. Twitter is full of copy-cat content and people are quick to identify this and filter it out. Produce content that is meaningful for your brand, that makes a statement and don’t allow yourself to be side-tracked by the noise around you. Set the bar.

Staying relevant

If people are talking about you, engage in the conversation! Kanye may not respond to people on Twitter but he certainly tweets about what people are talking about on the internet. People talk about Kanye, so Kanye talks about Kanye. Idiotically genius. Where relevant for your brand and audience, get involved in current affairs. Kanye is very much on top of what A-list musicians, designers and influencers are talking about on Twitter and other channels, and so he has become a voice within that lifestyle. Apply this thinking within your industry and people will listen to what you have to say.

Strategy Although we may never know whether there is a marketing strategy behind Kanye’s seemingly random outbursts, we can hazard a guess that there is. It may be down to coincidence but there does seem to be a lot of attention-grabbing Twitter activity around points in his timeline. With Kim Kardashian as your wife, it would make sense to assume that Kanye knows exactly what he’s doing on social media.

Influence

There’s no denying Kanye’s confidence in himself and his music, and his fans respect this above anything. Kanye is an example of why Twitter can be a brilliant (and unique) channel for brands and tribes. It gives you the ability to influence people’s opinions, choices and preferences in a way that’s unbeatably ‘now’. You don’t have to be quite as brutal as Kanye in your journey to become influential within your target audience but you can take inspiration in order to reach your goals.

Emma Worth is a social media specialist with Thinking Juice.

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