Four Ways Brands Can Win With Twitter

Chris Syme Owner/Partner, CKSyme Media Group

Posted on February 25th 2014

Four Ways Brands Can Win With Twitter

While watching a Jason Falls #mediachat a couple weeks ago, a thread came up about scheduling tweets. Falls caught flak from several participants because he admitted he scheduled tweets. In answer to a particular chatter, Falls fired off a couple savvy replies that got me thinking.

Jason made a very important point here: he monitors for responses. He is a curator and story teller on Twitter. He tweets his thoughts, links to articles he finds, shout outs to good case studies, and then listens for people to respond. When they do, he jumps on.

The bottom line is, all tweets, even though conversational in nature, do not have conversation as a goal. There are four basic uses for Twitter, all of which can use promotion in some ratio.  They are conversation, broadcasting, curation, and awareness.

Twitter for Conversation

First and foremost, Twitter is a channel for conversation. They may not all be “over the backyard fence” conversations, but they are an exchange of information between real people. Oftentimes they are a “backchannel” conversation that is started between people responding to a news item or tweet. Other times, people crowdsource a topic by throwing a question or observation out such as, “what’s your reaction to the Russian hockey fail in the Olympics?” A conversation ensues. Other times it is just plain customer service. This is the way most people use Twitter. Links are mostly absent.  These tweeters think of their followers as a community.

Twitter for Broadcasting

In a real-time news breaking event, Twitter is an information stream. People tweet what they are observing, questions are asked, answers are given, feelings are shared. But the emphasis here is not in give and take, it’s in adding to an information stream being formed in real-time around an event.  If you’re a brand with an event or a crisis, it’s important to remember that listening is the backbone of this type of broadcasting.

Also, broadcasting may be as simple as people using Twitter to make announcements, sell products, or post news.  Not real effective for engagement, by the way. These tweeters think of their followers as people who need their information.

Twitter for Curating

Many people (including myself) use Twitter as a curating channel to provide content to followers. We look for useful information and links that can help our clients do business better. There may be some promotion involved here, but the idea is to set yourself up as a giver, not a taker. If this group of tweeters had a mantra, it would be, “it’s not about me.” This group follows sector influencers intently. Their concern is to provide useful, timely information for others—to operate like a clearinghouse of ideas more than an originator of ideas. These tweeters think of their followers as consumers that need helpful information.

Twitter for Awareness

These are some of my favorite Twitter accounts to follow. They are usually bigger brands that cannot possibly answer every mention, yet they have highly engaged followers because of their entertaining and useful content. They may be curating, conversing, and promoting, but it’s done with humor or banter, and can even be instructional. Here, I think of brands working for top-of-mind like Charmin, Old Spice, Cinnabon, Oreo, DiGiorno Pizza, and more. These tweeters think of ways to be memorable.

A Final Warning: Using Twitter to Promote

First, a disclaimer is needed.  I promote on Twitter—heck yes. But I’ve very aware of my giving-to-taking ratio. I try to promote more in my own space (website/blog) than I do on Twitter. It actually has a much higher return anyway. This can be a personal blind spot so I watch myself carefully.

These are some of my least favorite Twitter accounts to follow. Here you will find mostly personal brands where the mantra is “it’s all about me.”  Tweets are in the first person--somehow linked to a product, service, or achievement of their own. They tweet about how others are talking about them (mostly in retweets where they are mentioned), and they even retweet their own tweets. These tweeters think only about how they can relate everything on Twitter to themselves.

Lastly, I wanted to give a shout out to scheduling tweets. I know some people think it’s wrong, but I can’t get along without it. Like Falls, I schedule for time saving purposes and am present for responses. My phone has an alert for @mentions and I look to respond in real-time unless I’m in a meeting. See you on Twitter (@cksyme). That was a promotion.


Chris Syme

Owner/Partner, CKSyme Media Group

Chris Syme's latest book, Practice Safe Social, is a leading resource on how to use social media responsibly. Her agency, CKSyme Media Group specializes in crisis and reputation communications, training, and social media services. See her website at Follow her on Twitter @cksyme


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I just wanted to know that if a brand promoter feels that the brand has a strond presence on Twitter & other social media and if he or she wishes to use that presence to create Social Awareness for really important causes, should he or she use the brand profile to deliver these messages? Many Social Media experts would advise using personal profiles but that would take a while to build and the impact would not be far reaching. What are your views on this? (My brand #IndiansinPakistanNovel has gone full-sclae into sical awareness campaigns - Is that wise?)

Very nice and informative blog post. I think here the writer has mentioned very true points. By following these tips, a brand can increase its social presence. This is a nice blog. I appreciate it. Thanks for sharing..

Even I agree Prescheduling is done just to save time and in other scenario.

If you are running a business globally so it becomes much difficult to target all the country at one time. thus rescheduling is necessary and worth when it pitch on time to the targeted audience.

I agree. Hitting multiple time zones with tweets requires scheduling. Great point!

That's so true. How else would you reach your customers? I love scheduling because it leaves me free to retweet others and be a part of conversations. 


Excellent article! Some excellent points, especially with conversation.  People really need to use this more. 

Thank you,


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Thanks Michael. 

That's a great question Vivek. I think if you use a brand to further a cause, you might be limiting yourself to only people who believe like you do. However, if you're okay with that, I don't see a problem. I think it should be handled on a case-by-case basis. Depends on the cause.

Good share, thats a whole new approach to brand on Twitter.

Glad you stopped by. I agree with you. Brands can widen their views a little on how they use Twitter.

Thanks for your thoughts Madhava. Glad you liked it.

I agree. Awesome article.

Thanks Anna!