Your company’s single biggest mistake on Twitter

Let’s start this post with a little quiz.  I’ve assembled a few Twitter avatars from my Twitter stream.  Take a look at the line-up and think about which company you would most likely follow and relate to …

I’ve used this example in many of my classes and the answer is usually unanimous — Megan Parker at GE.  It’s disarming isn’t it?  A massive multi-national B2B company represented by the welcoming and smiling face of Megan. But I think that’s just what makes this a best practice.

Your company is not choosing just a picture. You’re choosing a voice for the account, a personality, a strategy!

If you’re like me, it’s extremely difficult to connect to a logo.  I think it puts a company at an immediate disadvantage.  Now I’m making a big assumption here — that your company WANTS to connect. If all you want to do is broadcast press releases, than go ahead and “go logo.” But if you want to create some authentic connection with your audience, I strongly recommend you put a face on the account.

Handling multiple stores/accounts

Here’s an example of how this can work to create brand loyalty, even on a local basis.

A regional manager for Chik-fil-a (a large U.S. restaurant chain) told me she was setting up individual Twitter accounts for her restaurants. She was thinking of putting pictures of the store front as the avatars. Umm … “No,” I said.  How about the iconographic cows used in the restaurant ads?  No again.  Why not feature the store managers who are actually doing the tweeting?  Wouldn’t it be cool to establish a Twitter relationship with a real person and then get to say hi to them when you visit? Wouldn’t this build a connection and loyalty? This seems like such a basic concept but it’s ignored by almost every company. Just puzzles me.

Tweets in transition

A logical next question is, what happens when your Twitter face-to-the-world leaves?

I think this is best answered through a comment from Bert DuMars, Vice President E-Business & Interactive Marketing at Newell Rubbermaid.  A few months ago, I wrote a post about Twitter branding, wondering what would happen when popular Susan Wassel, the wonderfully-entertaining Sharpie Susan on Twitter got a new job?  Here’s how Bert answered this:

“The ID @sharpiesusan is owned by Newell Rubbermaid and the Office Products Division. If Susan were ever to leave Newell Rubbermaid, we would keep that ID and she would be free to re-establish herself on Twitter or any other social network as herself.”

This is happening before our eyes at GE. Yes … Megan has a new job! To my horror, she was replaced on Twitter by:

Sean Gannon GE’s managing editor for digital media explained how they are handling the transition: “Megan is on another team, so we are now ‘tag-teaming’ our Twitter account. On any given day, it may be a different person tweeting. Rather that give the illusion that it’s one person, we went back to a logo until we hand over the Twitter keys to just one person.”

(sigh of relief)

Let’s look at personalization under one more scenario. A company such as Coca-Cola may choose to have one main corporate (and they do). Certainly they’ve earned that right because as one of the world’s great brands, people are interested in their tweets even if it is merely a broadcast of press releases.  One way to personalize is to add the initial of the Tweeter at the end like this:

Whether you’re a person or mega-brand, let’s move away from trying to create a personal connection with a picture of an office building or a truck.  It’s time to get personal.

Do you agree?

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