How Should A Brand Use Twitter In 2016?

Twitter may be the hardest major social media platform to fully understand. The ways different types of people use Twitter varies wildly, and the ways brands are expected to use Twitter are also constantly changing. As soon as one brand finds the new, trendy way to use Twitter to gain attention, that method is copied over and over by other brands until it falls out of vogue. So, how does a brand stay relevant when Twitter fads come and go so quickly?

  1. Don’t Mimic The Gimmick.
    When major brands like Wendy’s and Burger King got into Twitter beef over which had the better value menu, people paid attention. That these two giant brands were having a playful, yet competitive Twitter war was a very interesting idea. The problem is it happened over and over again. Brands tried to start beef to get the same viral attention that Wendy’s and Burger King had created, but Twitter users could see through their strategy, and the staged Twitter beef was way less interesting than Wendy’s and Burger King’s seemingly organic conflict. Your brand could get followers by mimicking the current gimmick, but it’s not worth sinking to that level.
  2. Be Confident In Your Brand.
    When you’re confident about your brand, that’s when crafting your Twitter presence is easiest, because your products are your content. If you compare Starbucks’s Twitter presence with that of McDonalds’, you see two brands with wildly different levels of confidence. Starbucks posts a picture of their products every day – coffee, iced drinks, frappucinos, food – and that gives the follower a good feeling. The pictures look good, the user is updated when Starbucks adds something new, and they might find out about an offer. McDonalds does not post every day, and they don’t let their products do the talking the same way Starbucks does.
  3. Don’t Be A Novelty.
    Novelty accounts are Twitter accounts run by characters essentially, like a company’s mascot, like The Geico Gecko, Captain Crunch, or Mr. Clean. Recently Keebler has been promoting their new novelty account, Ernie Keebler, using ad dollars to push the account into the Twitter feeds of millions. Their Tweets, which started on April 25 with “Am I Twitter?” rely on the premise that it’s funny that old people don’t know how to use social media, and so Ernie Keebler goes bumbling around Twitter telling people about Keebler cookies. It’s a bit awkward, and after 10 years of use, Twitter users are savvy enough to call brands out for social media stunts. In fact, poking fun at a brand’s “social media interns” is a common way of demeaning a branded campaign on Twitter.
  4. Follow The Trending Hashtags.
    We’ve suggested against gimmicks and novelties, so suggesting that a brand follow trending hashtags might be a bit of a surprise. However, brands can participate in trending hashtags without breaking Rule #2: be confident in your brand, and be yourself. Trends are often like games that test your reflexes and creativity-if something becomes trendy and you act quickly with the right message, you can float to the top of the Popular Tweets section. It will take a brand’s most clever writers, or the ones with the best puns, to come up with something that stays true to the product and the hashtag, while still being entertaining – but it’s a valid strategy.
  5. Be Conversational.
    Twitter can be hard to grasp, but the best strategy for Twitter is perhaps the most obvious: just talk to users. Whatever your brand sells, it’s easy to search a few keywords on Twitter, and engage users by replying to their Tweets. It’s a unique advantage that Twitter has over Facebook; it’s not so weird for brands to be conversational on Twitter, in fact it’s fairly common. If a brand wrote on your wall, or commented on your status on Facebook, it’d be out of the ordinary; whereas a brand doing the same on Twitter is part of the Twitter experience. Don’t be afraid; follow rule #2: be confident in your brand, follow your brand’s voice and follow rule #3: don’t be a novelty; you can speak in your brand’s voice without speaking as your brand’s mascot. Try to reach out to 5 users a day, pick a few keywords relevant to your brand’s work, search those keywords, and look for Tweets where it makes sense for your brand to reach out to lend a hand, say hi, or offer your services.

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