As in real life, it’s impossible to engage 1-to-1 on Twitter without showing some personality. Before your brand even begins to consider converting their followers into advocates, you have to forge fledgling relationships and create a community to embed brand builders into. But first, get your personality on track with these simple steps.
1. Get your strategies aligned
Lots of advice on building Twitter personalities talks about being ‘different’, ‘quirky’ and ‘fun’ but as an AYTM survey states: a third of interviewees suggested the Tweet style they prefer actually “depends on the business”.
Your Twitter personality has to be a part of a coherent whole. That covers the wider marketing strategy and also overall business goals. The personality must fit into your brand’s advertising story and chime with the buying personas you’ve already identified (if you haven’t done that yet, what are you doing here?!).
As an example, O2’s #bemoredog campaign is certainly generating brand awareness using the different-quirky-fun approach, but they’re also putting out strong news content, as well as advertising competitions and their own products to engage with followers individually. They’ve thought carefully about the demographics and expectations of who they’d like to be engaging with on Twitter, and matched it back to their advertising goals.
2. Decide on your characteristics.
Start pinning down some specific human characteristics. Do you want to be reliable? Creative? Relaxed? Quirky? Serious? Outrageous? Helpful? Or authoritative?
Also be aware of what you are not.
Jack Daniels have mastered their tone, not least because they have also figured out what characteristics they don’t want to display alongside their chosen traits. There’s a big difference between having a ‘knowing smile’ like Jack Daniels and being ‘comedic’ like, say, Fosters.
Again, you need to be aware of your brand’s target audience. Popularity isn’t always dependent on being the funniest - it depends on expectations.
Underlining this, a study by AOL and Nielsen suggests consumers expect trustworthy informative content to be the main type of share for businesses in the automotive, financial, and tech industries. This includes news, how-tos and product info. Knowing what consumers of these types of products expect is the first step to meeting their demand. This doesn’t preclude personality of course, it’s just that companies in these sectors may want to embody different characteristics to the tongue-in-cheek, chummy tone that a brand like Oreo can use - because expectations are different.
Salesforce is a great example of a tech firm meeting this demand with a distinctive personality. Think of them as your tech-savvy, business-minded, trustworthy friend, who’s always got their finger on the pulse. As a B2B company, it’s clear that they’ve considered the type of audience they want and the influential individuals they’d like to convert to advocates.
3. Settle on your tone.
The tone of your tweets is mainly a natural consequence of your brand characteristics. However, it should also be influenced by the purpose of Twitter as a communication channel within your organisation.
Whether a tweet is intended to generate brand awareness & engagement, news & information or customer support & response will affect its tone.
Do you reply to tweets in a formal way? Are you relaxed about answering questions? Do you try to be a little controversial? Do your news updates sound colloquial? Or do you try and keep things authoritative?
JetBlue, for instance, have not tried to bring all their passengers onto Twitter and build as large a following as possible (link to blog 1). They instead nurture a quirky, fun-loving community of fans who are excited to be winning competitions to get married at the airport. The serious business of customer complaints or delayed and cancelled flights (which would not sit right next to the other content) is dealt with by a link to their website and all special deals are dealt with by a separate twitter handle @JetBlueCheeps.
This also helps when new Twitter users get things wrong - as JetBlue hit the nail on the head in an interview "There are some rules and practices on Twitter that aren't immediately obvious to new users... It's hard to help when people sign up and simply say, 'hey, when's my flight?' assuming we see a tweet we’re not @ mentioned in."
4. Bring ‘em out!
Bring out the people (hiding) behind your brand. Ford were the first to launch this on a big scale when global head of social media, Scott Monty, had an “idea to tweet on behalf of Ford and to harmonize all of our accounts; i.e., every account starts with @Ford." It’s part of “a larger social media strategy to humanise the brand and put consumers in touch with Ford employees." Since then this approach, sometimes called mutual branding, has been picked up by companies small and large.
Southwest Air say they “promote our [Twitter] activity internally and encourage employee participation.” And tech companies are at it too. BufferApp which has 111,500 followers includes twitter handles of 8 team members in its bio. Linking a corporate account to the actual humans who are part of that brand is a simple, intuitive way of humanising social media presence.
Mutual branding originated between companies but it’s now being applied between a brand and its people too. Remember, as Flint McGlaughlin says, “People buy from people”.