Corporate trouble in Tweetdom?

As part of my IAB Social Media training we have been asked to look at corporate Twitter strategies and pick a good and bad example of brands using the platform.

I have found this a pretty difficult task, for several reasons, what brand to go for? Do I even consciously seek out brands that I like, and does anyone? You need a reason to follow, a prime example being one that our tutors cited, which was the Twelpforce, a team of consumer advice/help tweeters working on behalf of Best Buy in the US.

Added to this the actual search/find people (or brands) function on twitter is not that helpful or user-friendly. Twitter is much better at picking up trending topics, via hashtags for example, and what people are saying about them rather than finding the corporate profile.

From a background working in audio, and especially podcasts I learnt a valuable lesson in instructing brands, namely that you have to have something to say, or to offer people something that they want. In podcasting this often translates to tapping into the existing behaviours of users, so offering content genres that are already popular, like music or comedy. This was successfully executed by the likes of Cobra Beer who launched a successful comedy podcast fusing beer and banter, the pubcast

Twitter is much the same, save for a few examples like Nike or Adidas no one will bother to follow or keep on following a brand that doesn’t offer them something.

This task also brings in to focus the argument on where social media fits in the marketing/advertising/pr sphere. Some of the most effective Twitter profiles I’ve seen where those responding to adverse events. Two of note here are the ash cloud (or should I say hashcloud #ashcloud) and the BP oil spill. Airlines lines, such as KLM (http://twitter.com/KLM) used their Twitter and other social media tools during the ash cloud to inform, reassure, and engage their customers, alleviating pressure on call centres and websites. As passengers were faced with this trouble, it made sense to dissipate information in the most reactive and up to the minute channels, where stranded passengers were already active.

BP are making a bold go of it as well although run out of the USA http://twitter.com/bp_america

As for the failures in Twitter, apart from the large amount of absentees (only a quarter of brands actually active) it has got to be those who are limping through the process and there are so many to choose from but I thought I would highlight one that had specific reasons for failing.
I have chosen Haagen Daz’s http://twitter.com/MeltTogether this isn’t actually their full company profile but one that was set up (and dropped) to tactically support their Valentines messaging. It breaks the first rule of such consumer dialogues which is that conversation has to be ongoing. Additionally the mechanics of generating followers means that they were almost doomed from the outset as it’s really difficult to generate any meaningful amount of followers in such a short window.

Bucking the trend, and falling in the ‘good’ camp is the twitter fuelled game called the “Twitter Cup” I like this usage of Twitter because it uses the platform as a means to generate response to power something else. There’s no significant barrier to entry and its something that taps into the buzz around the world cup and people passions for their nation.

To summarise, what I have learnt is:
1) Most corporate twitter presences are not very good
2) The find people function on twitter leaves a lot to be desired
3) As a result of the above we need to make sure brands are visible and clear with twitter profiles and link from elsewhere direct to the profile through other comms.
4) Twitter is global and brands need to have a global and local strategy
5) The majority of brands aren’t using it to its potential
6) Staking claim on twitter usernames is vital for brands
7) I was naturally driven to see success in numbers of followers but we need more than this as a metric, it’s about engagement and usefulness after all.

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