Do brands understand the unwritten rules of Twitter?
The key to success in Social Media isn’t just understanding the tools, but, more importantly, the culture as well. Most people can work out how to send a tweet, for example, but it takes more study to know when, why or what to say – and to whom.
When used correctly Twitter can bring a myriad of rewards to brands.
They can harness it to improve customer services, as Best Buy have with their Twelpforce; a unique crowd-sourcing tool sharing their staff’s knowledge with the web.
Similarly small or niche companies, such as online spare parts store eSpares, can use Twitter to greatly increase their customer base. ESpares use targeted Tweeting, combined with YouTube tutorials, to provide on the spot advice to users with appliance trouble; the personalised approach and aftercare support brings in new customers and turns a catalogue site into a community.
Even big brands like Dell can see a substantial ROI if they have the right approach and the dedication – in two years Dell earned more than $2 million in revenue directly attributed to their ‘DellOutlet’ Twitter activity; however it took 18 months of that to hit the $1million mark. – While the tools may be quick and easy to use it’s another common misconception that campaigns within them will be as well.
But for every success story it seems there are just as many brands falling foul of Twitter’s unwritten rules. Habitat’s spam attack on Twitter last year was a prime example, as they misused trending hashtags to gain visibility on their promotional tweets:
Habitat’s error was compounded by a delayed response to complaints after attempts to ignore the issue failed. This is probably the most common fault of brands on Twitter; seemingly eager to jump in with their own messages but unsure of how and when to respond to negative feedback and complaints. Unlike the traditional model Twitter requires a real-time response, so crisis management really needs to be in place before campaigns start.
Similarly, Nokia failed to handle a complaint regarding their recent MiniMo competition, which lead to spiralling negative sentiment within the contest blog and across Twitter. As with Habitat, their reticence and blame pushing continued, while their campaign partner, MoFilm, proved a stark counterpoint with an honest and very practical response:
This not only resolved a lot of the original complaints but also left MoFilm with almost no negative sentiment. Proving that Twitter users can be both a force to be reckoned with and a forgiving bunch if you’re honest about the problem!
So, what are the unwritten rules for any brand using Twitter? My top five tips would be:
- Be honest and accountable
- Be relevant and add value
- This is not traditional PR; you can’t control the message
- Be prepared: internal communication and contingency planning is crucial.
- Remember your follower’s expectations – reply promptly and in earnest.
Do you agree with my rules – did I miss any? Share your thoughts in the comments!