Twitter is perhaps the biggest, most direct way for companies to engage their following and it has found huge success doing what bigger social networks couldn’t – creating a simple and quick forum, not only for interaction between people but for interaction with brands as well. Twitter, it seems, is absolutely perfect for social media, if not by design then certainly by optimization. After all, it’s no coincidence that opinion leader status still carries more weight on Twitter than on Facebook or Google+, since Twitter was originally marketed toward journalists, analysts, and other types of pundits.
Is there room for marcomm on Twitter?
And yet, a recent study done in both Europe and the US has shown us that there is an increasing trust gap between user-submitted content like review and the like and company promotional pushes. People don’t trust advertising all that much and this extends to social media programs from all the big brands. That being said, sometimes brands get it right and manage to get stable followers visiting their pages and sharing their content. The “secret” is quite obvious: a lot of inspired ‘outside the box’ content and a healthy helping of humour. That, in and of itself, might seem commonplace, but a few success stories might clue in all aspiring social media pros as to what audiences expect to see on Twitter, when it comes to branded communication.
The Oreo quick thinking act
Case in point is the Oreos twitter feed. Although it’s a company feed, it is one of the funniest, most interesting ones out there and also one of the fastest to react and capitalize on promotional opportunities. When the lights went out during the Superbowl, the Oreo social media team went straight to work and produced an ad that claimed it’s just as easy to eat in the dark. When the gay marriage debate was firing up the Twittersphere, the Oreos team released a photo of a Rainbow Oreo on Twitter. Finally a couple of weeks ago Oreo and KitKat had a smart Twitter battle for a random fan’s affections, a random fan that just happened to mention both the companies in a tweet.
Needless to say that all the content they shared on these occasions went viral quicker than you can type your prescribed 140 character update. This type of engagement is nothing but beneficial to companies as it takes consumers completely by surprise. Multinational billion dollar companies are not supposed to have a sense of humour and consumers don’t expect them to communicate successfully – and especially on such controversial issues, too.
Take a clue from top opinion leaders
You can see this ‘breaking the mould’ approach is highly successful even if you don’t look at companies directly. Highly successful comedians like Will Ferrell or Louis CK have a strong online presence which bolsters their popularity to no avail, particularly as it’s quite obvious that it is them and not a PR person doing the tweeting. Louis CK even graduated from comedian to entrepreneur when he released his latest comedy show exclusively on-line, cutting out the middle man and creating a sense of interaction with his fans and followers. The type of content he is creating exclusively for the online medium is still going viral, even if he has now moved on to the even more challenging video format and many commenters are chalking his success up to his large Twitter following. It’s not a model that a corporate brand can implement to a tee, but it’s certainly worth bearing in mind that Twitter has the power to generate relevant conversation with brand users, whose weight will later be easier to transmute onto other platforms.
There might be no definite way to ‘do’ social media but there is a right way to tweet, if you’re a big company: good content that isn’t obviously ‘viral’, a playful demeanour and a willingness to engage with fans. In short: try to be like a real person and don’t be afraid to let your digital hair down.