advertising and other stuff. no, really.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Twitter keeping it real. Or not.

Just what is the expectation for a brand in social media? Not what social media strategists tell you it should be. But, what feels right, and does that even matter? Should brands reach out to people with a real tone of voice? Or is the best you can hope for this PR-speak, “Here’s our latest commercial” tone?

When I see Tweets™ from Pepsi, Jones Soda, Moog, Showtime or Taylor, they’re solid and all, hitting many of the notes we normally advise brands to check off: don’t be a straight news feed, retweet community members, add value and answer all inquiries, but I’m still looking for more.

Or more real. I guess deep down, multiple exclamation points are a turn-off for me.

It’s a reminder that when you actually find a brand willing to engage with its community using an everyday tone of voice, the kind you use with friends, follow them – because it’s rare. Is apparel brand Cookies N Cream a little more raw on Twitter than those brands I mentioned? Sure, but I appreciate their honesty.

Underscoring that point, it took me as long to find Cookies as it did those others, plus 10 more that could easily fit on the shiny, happy Tweet™ list. Think about which brands you follow that speak at you rather than with you? Probably most.

With so many brands invading the spaces people hang online, very few are using social networks beyond the same old push method of one-way messaging.

Have a problem with a pizza? Run to your keyboard and complain. No doubt, a Domino’s manager will right that wrong and return you to your righteous sense of consumer empowerment. Look, it’s not like I expect them to suddenly say “Hey, it's $5 pizza, everyone’s in this business sucks – deal with it.”

Tone of voice for all social media is the single most important thing a brand has. Don’t be like everyone else with it.

No offense to my Harvard crew or the kids these days, but if as a brand your social media help wanted ad is focused on requiring an MBA or college intern with no community experience, you are clearly missing the point.

Too many brands are getting caught up in this customer service/complaint department trap as their one tactic online. Responding to a problem is fine; it needs to be done. I also *get* that a Fortune 500 brand can’t go around saying whatever it wants. After all, it has a certain audience to worry about that smaller brands might not have.

But customer service isn’t the only use for Twitter.

If it is, then what room is there for a more genuine connection between a brand and its community? I’m not assuming the existence of a relationship either, because I don’t go into a store expecting to be *friends* with the cashier. Except, I’m not in the store. I’m behind a monitor in a more relaxed environment – my personal space – and that dynamic allows me to let my guard down a little more, and maybe start to engage in a *different* kind of conversation than I might not otherwise have in the physical store.

Borrowing from Pepsi here, how refreshing when you find brands with a more natural voice. You might not use their product, you may not even know about them, but those are the ones worth following because their conversation has the sense of legitimacy others often aim for, but miss.


Anonymous said...

Tweets. How long before the receiver of corporate tweet ad gets bored and disregards the message?

Ben Kunz said...

I love this riff. However, your Pepsi example/tweet image above deflated me ... "How great is it to be using the Kunz product while doing something hip ..." Jesus, that's overt and annoying. No offense, man. Your sentiment is right on, but brands that insert themselves into every conversation at the first possible point are the guy at the party who slips you his business card in the first 3 seconds. It's authentic ... hard sales. I don't care to have a conversation with that.

Anonymous said...

"retweet community members"

I stopped following brands/record labels, etc. because of this very act. I'm already following them. I could care less if JaneDoe98 thinks their product is great.

mtlb said...

@anon - I hear ya. Retweet for something interesting they may have said though, def. not just because they’re fanboys.