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At Walker Sands, we work with several clients who are developing better connections to their consumers via social media tools such as Twitter. Twitter is an especially powerful tool for connecting with customers and potential customers. With more than a 1300% increase in usage over the past year, Twitter is continually growing and adding users that are just waiting for brands to engage them.
In fact, 97% of Twitter users think brands should engage with consumers via the social media tool. But still, Twitter is NOT for everyone and every brand!
Some brands have had great success on Twitter. Two of my favorites are @DunkinDonuts and @GMBlogs. The reason: both of these brands engage and converse on Twitter. They answer questions, talk like people and do fairly well monitoring discussions about themselves.
Unfortunately, most brands are not like these two. So I put together a quick list of five reasons your brand should not be on Twitter. If one or more of these descriptions applies to your Twitter strategy then please, for the sake of the Twitterverse, don’t Tweet!
1. You idolize the Tweet style of @NYTimes.
The New York Times is a great newspaper and they surely use Twitter in a way that works best for them – headlines, headlines, headlines. This is great for NYTimes because it drives traffic to their Web site, which I suspect is their ultimate goal. But, they never engage with anyone. They simply post headlines from their stories.
This works for the New York Times, but it will not work for your brand. The key to successfully Tweeting and adding value to your time spent on Twitter is to engage. If you don’t plan on Re-Tweeting, mentioning others or taking part in conversations you have no reason to be on Twitter. As a Twitter user, there is nothing more frustrating to me than a brand that does not engage. It is SOCIAL media and it is important for you to be social in order for it to work.
Constantly engaging and monitoring your brand (there are tons of great monitoring tools out there) are crucial to success.
2. Your plan is to get 1,000,000 followers as fast as possible.
The basic quantity versus quality argument applies here. When I first got on Twitter, I thought the goal was to get as many followers as possible. My thinking being that the more followers I had the more credible I looked. I soon realized that having spammers and various sex goddesses following me added little value. So after building my account very large using some free or minimal pay services, I went through and deleted all the garbage.
I have been in the process of rebuilding my account with useful and valuable contacts. As a brand, you don’t have time to engage with 1 million users all the time. It’s impossible. Even the brands I mentioned above surely can’t engage every single person who mentions them or refers to their products. So instead of taking this strategy, focus on the followers you have, whether it’s 8 or 800. The more time you spend with individual people on Twitter the more successful you will be. This can be a great way to utilize net promoters and really get to know your customers.
3. You don’t have a measurement system in place.
For brands, properly utilizing Twitter can consume a lot of your time. For any company, time is money so you want to make sure you are getting a proper return for the investment you are making. Going into Twitter without knowing what you want to get out of it is deadly. Knowing what you can measure as success will help you decide what to say, who to say it to and how to engage with others.
For example, if your goal is to promote your blog and your measure of success is increased traffic to your blog. You may have a lot of Tweets with blog links, engage with people in your industry and other thought leaders close to your topics. You may not engage in conversations about breakfast but more in conversations about other thought leaders discussing their ideas. This is different from someone whose goal is to improve their brand image with a measure of success being approval of their brand in a monthly poll. This company will Tweet more friendly, human-like Tweets, will focus on anyone who is or may become a potential customer and will engage in friendly conversations from thought leaders to regular customers about a wide range of topics ultimately with the goal of making their brand appear friendly and interested in their customer’s best interests.
Understand what you want before you get going because it will completely change how you approach those 140 characters.
4. You don’t want to follow anyone back.
I have discussed with some social media experts who put high importance on your following to followers ratio. Many will tell you that it is crucial to have many more followers than following because it makes you look credible. But for brands on Twitter, your goal is to reach out to people, build a community and get to know your clientele. If you don’t follow them, how can you expect to know what their Tweeting about?
I do not advise following 10,000 people while you only have 10 followers, you still want to put some thought into your ratio. But, you should absolutely not approach Twitter with a plan to not follow. My least favorite brand on Twitter – which I will not mention in this post – has 300,000 followers and only follows 6 people. It is the single most frustrating brand to attempt to engage with because they are showing me right off the bat that they don’t care what I have to say.
Taking a strategy of not following is a quantifiable way to show you don’t care about what your customers have to say.
5. You are currently developing your auto-DM to new followers.
Stop right there. Step back, find the document that you created to start drafting your auto-DM and place it in your recycle bin immediately. Auto-DM is the most impersonal, annoying thing on Twitter. As soon as I get one of these I will often un-follow that person or brand immediately.
Why? First off, it shows me that this person or brand is nothing more than an automated robot. And if they choose to do introductions automatically then their Tweets will likely add little value to me. Second, most auto-DMs try to promote something else about the person. The thinking here is often that if I liked you enough to follow you I must want to know more about you. Not yet. I hate the “Thanks for following me, go check out my blog at www.iamlame.com” If you want a personal touch when someone follows you, then add a personal touch. An auto-DM is not personal.
These tips will help you get a good introspective look at your Twitter strategy. But, I’m not the only person to have written on this topic. Here are two of my favorite posts about it.
What else do you think is important for brands to consider before they start tweeting?