How to make brand more personal on social media (twitter)


Today, after noticing that initials in the end of every @Bitelv‘s tweet annoy me a little bit, I tweeted that I don’t see point in doing so, especially when 99% of tweets are written by the same person. It sparked quite an interesting discussion whether it shows more personal attitude towards brand followers and other with whom the brand communicates. 

It looks like this: @brand: tweettweettweettweettweettweettweettweettweettweettweet ^AB

Overall, I lost. Most replies from people working in social media contained positive atitude against such form of “personalising” tweets.

Anyways, I still do disagree. Both if one or several persons communicate to followers from one coroporate account. From average Joe’s perspective I believe it doesn’t make a lot of sense. It still is public communication on behalf of brand. I think that there are more followers who don’t get this concept than those who benefit emotionally from it.

If the goal is being personal on person-to-person level, I would recommend communicating from semi-personal/professional accounts. Something like- @JohnBrand (replace “Brand” with any brand you can imagine to get the idea).

Few days ago I tweeted “Brands are not people. People are not brands.” (I’m not author of these words) and I do stand by it. Brand’s twitter account will always be brand’s twitter account. It won’t turn into person, from time to time it will tweet official news etc. It will always have logo instead of smiling person’s photo, it will have officiall bio with the most essential information, it will have professionally designed background. And people will follow its updates because these updates are (or might be) in some or other ways valuable for them.

Few replies to my tweets contained suggestions like “Should we drop signature fields in our representative’s emails too?” or “Do you suggest that our phone operators don’t introduce themselves after picking up the phone?”

No. I do not. Do you sign weekly newsletters (those who contain information about special offers & discounts) with random employee’s names too? Or your ads? Just to make them more personal? I believe that you do not. Unless it is some kind of announcement which is signed by CEO or head of some kind of department which is in charge about the information covered in the announcement. And still, such announcement is one-way communication, it is in no way a conversation. ^AB at the end of a tweet makes communication as personal as signature field in an e-mail does. 

Communication is social media (in my view) is somewhere between e-mail and speaking to a representative in person. It definetely should be more personal than email. It also can be more personal than talking to a call center representative. At least because, for apparent reasons, we can’t (actually we can, but we do not) ask our representatives to add their pictures to every email we send.

If I tweet that my TV doesn’t work and get reply from @SonyOfficial, it’s nice, it’s customer service. Even, if the tweet has this misterious ^AB in the end of it. If I get reply from @John_at_Sony (or whatever) who works at Sony, I have this guy (John) who cares and wants my TV to work. It’s personal from the first step.

Seriously- have you ever seen anyone standing somewhere and talking to a logo? 

Small business owners can easily use their own accounts for reaching out to customers. I would even suggest that they don’t set up separate “business” twitter account. Big brands can do the same- by encouraging it’s staff to be more active on social media and showing them how. There are also various other (a lot of them) ways how to achieve this personal approach.

As I said in several tweets today: “Most people don’t buy from a business or company, they buy from a person. Especially in the online world, we want to connect with another person. We want to know that someone cares and has been where we are. We want to be able to relate to the person that we’re buying from.” (I’m not the author of these sentences as well).

Initials won’t fill this need. Person will. If you really want your customers to know that you care, don’t hide yourself behind logos, brand names or initals. Show your face, let them know what kind of person you are. There is a huge difference between good service and a nice person who helped you out and really cared.

I really do like the concept of spokespersons. Like- Priceline’s William Shatner, OldSpice man, GoDaddy girls and Toyota’s Patrick Warburton.
The spokesperson concept was born to be utilised in social media. And it already is- your customers are your spokespersons, and nothing should keep you out of making one up by yourself. Just hire a spokesperson for social media!

I can’t stress this enough- people relate to other people, not logos. Relate to your customers!

Using initials in the end of tweets for more personal approach seems just lazy. Don’t take this personally. That’s just what I think in the light of today’s discussions on twitter. If you really want to sign tweets from brand’s official twitter, use employees first name, not initials. That’s much more personal. And drop that upside-down “check” sign.

Good luck in your social media endeavours! I welcome your thoughts in comments and you can always follow me at @marisantons and/or! ;)