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Follow me on Twitter

PR and advertising have a powerful part to play in your Twitter campaign, but maybe it’s time you stopped thinking of it as a campaign at all and instead really considered what Twitter is:

Fun!

Twitter-logo

Who currently manages your Twitter account? Chances are it's part of your marketing department, but if you really want to succeed on Twitter you have to stop marketing and start enjoying the platform.

Let's talk about how and why.

If you spend any serious time on Twitter, I’m sure you’ve seen several thousand tweets with links to no-lose automated Twitter systems.

Get thousands of followers; make big money with no effort, work just a few hours a day.

You get the picture.

Everyone wants a quick, easy way to win on Twitter.

The problem is, there isn’t one.

One of the main problems faced by companies using the microblogging site is that they place the responsibility for running it squarely with their marketing arm.

PR and advertising have a powerful part to play in your Twitter campaign, but maybe it’s time you stopped thinking of it as a campaign at all and instead really considered what Twitter is:

It’s fun.

Last week I was doing some research into Twitter analytics, so I set up a quick account and ran some celebrity news feeds to it. Next I bulk followed a couple of thousand people and left it to its own devices. The stream quickly gained a few hundred followers and is growing.*

If I had the time or inclination, I could probably set up a few hundred similar feeds and make some extra #Spon cash.

But where’s the fun in that?

On the flipside, let’s look at my personal account.

I’m usually hovering around 800 followers, not too bad, but I’m certainly no Obama. So what am I getting out of Twitter?

A lot of my followers are influencers, so my content is always well promoted, and that’s led to Twitter being at least partly responsible for my last two jobs.

I’m also able to directly contact useful and/or influential people whenever I need, and I have the added bonus of a constant entertainment stream whenever I get bored.

You also want to get as many of your current and potential customers checking you out as possible. The easiest way to do this?

Be yourself.

The one thing that sets Twitter winners apart is personality. It may go against every marketing rule there is, but forget about selling your product.

Be interesting

Tweet news, blog posts, and any interesting content you can think of.

And by any I mean any.

Be brave and reach beyond the corporate strategic line.

Feel free to tweet off-subject. If you’re a marketing manager, give your social media team freedom of expression.

If your stream has a branded picture, set up CoTweet and let everyone get involved to create a ‘bullpen’ style voice. Or consider replacing your logo with a picture of your company Twitterer.

Your customers will make friends with the person more readily than with a brand.

Also, it’s worth allowing some auto population. Do your customers know you’re on Foursquare? Post that Swarm badge update. 

While you want to avoid promoting competitors, there’s nothing wrong with developing some friendly rivalry, or even retweeting their content if it’s not directly industry related.

There’s also nothing wrong with retweeting content from those in a similar field to you. All that information is interesting and useful to your customers, so add a syndication aspect to your tweets.

Don’t feel you have to be purely a customer service/newsdesk. It’s fine if your stream engages directly in conversation with people and it adds a personal touch.

Even if the conversation is nothing to do with your product. If you have a customer tweeting about having a ketchup stain on their shirt, then tell them to get the white wine out. Help them out. It may be off message but it’s a highly visible way to generate positive sentiment.

Finally, who are you following back?

There’s an obvious tendency for corporate accounts to follow others in their field, but limit this. Follow a few news streams that have good, retweetable content, and a couple of industry leaders, but don’t go mad.

Just because it’s a work stream doesn’t mean you won’t benefit from following friends. By being seen to have regular one-to-one conversations you’ll add a humanising element that can’t be faked or forced.

In short, while you should brief your staff on the company line and rules of engagement so that silly mistakes don’t impact negatively on your brand image, it’s also time to stop thinking quite so hard about strategy and begin enjoying Twitter.

If you’re a funny, engaging and interesting tweeter then the followers, respect and sales will come to you.

*If you happen to be a massive Taylor Swift/Justin Bieber fan feel free to follow @SocMedHits. You have been warned...

Matt Owen

Published 8 July, 2010 by Matt Owen

Matt Owen was formerly Head of Social at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or hook up on LinkedIn.

203 more posts from this author

Comments (12)

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Mike McGrail

This is a top read and all oh so true. Give your team the power to express themselves on twitter and you will start adding a human touch very quickly. For me there is nothing worth than a feed that just comes across as robotic and cold. Show some love!

about 6 years ago

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James Christie

Good advice. The links to the Twitter accounts assume that they're pages on this site.

about 6 years ago

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Lynsey Bowen

This is great advice - especially for those of us new to online media and twitter in particular. However, there is still a perception that twitter and other online social media devices can be damaging to a brand and therefore should only ever be used for corporate messages. I personally believe having fun with these messages is the most effective way of using them to there full potential.

about 6 years ago

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Anonymous

for a B2B company though it's a bit different - would you have advice how to use this medium for this sector?

about 6 years ago

Karl Havard

Karl Havard, Chief Strategy Officer at Econsultancy Small Business Guest AccessSmall Business Multi-user

Matt, Great article and it is very true. The biggest challenge is how to change the mindset and habits of organisations who've programmed their thinking through many years of push marketing and corporate facades. That's seems to be the biggest barrier. As you say from the outset, have some fun...but maybe some are just far too serious?!

about 6 years ago

Matt Owen

Matt Owen, Head of Social at Econsultancy

B2B is an interesting area on Twitter, it seems that most businesses asign a 'newsdesk' function and leave it at that. While that's certainly useful, I still think there's room to inject personality and add off-message news. If done right, it can realy emphasise your corporate ethos and reinforce a brand. *starts writing follow-up article..*

about 6 years ago

Matt Owen

Matt Owen, Head of Social at Econsultancy

PS - not entirely sure whats going on with the links - I'm @Lexx2099 if anyone wants to follow!

about 6 years ago

Will Paccione

Will Paccione, Internet Consultant at Dot Xero

Great article Matt. If more people would follow this advice, they'd understand Twitter better. The forget the "Social" in Social Media.

Thanks.

about 6 years ago

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Anonymous

Looking forward to the follow-up :-)

about 6 years ago

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Bangalow Accommodation

Twitter is about being human and fun. Agree.

almost 6 years ago

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Drinks

What do you mean stop trying to sell your products and just be yourself?  Every single Twitter account for business is trying to push their product directy, or indirectly......  They give it coupon codes, aggressively push competition etc etc and you necer hear about them being themselves.....  "Hi, just woke up", "now am making coffee", "So what are you guys doing" .... now thats being yourself...... but instead they are "hey who wants a free product today?"

almost 6 years ago

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Drinks

Just out of interest, how many of you guys have been able to SEO your Twitter page to rank high for a competitive keywords in the SERPS..... ?

almost 6 years ago

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