True, consumers have a powerful voice, but brands can certainly overpower negative and confusing tweets by considering how a consumer typically reaches out to a company on Twitter. Consumers only know how to interact with brands (not the people behind the brands) on Twitter in one way. By offering tweets of praise and complaints, they let the brand rep know the company either is or isn’t doing their job.
Subjectivity is not a good barometer when it comes to brand message development, because a lot of it might be considered blown smoke. (People still reply to @comcastcares with faulty messages about a broken down TV, internet connection, etc. just to see if they’ll actually respond). Knowing the potential for discrepancies, how do brands control the messages on Twitter?
- It’s all in the profile While I agree with a short bio about the tweeting brand rep, I don’t think it’s wise to blur the lines of professional position vs. personal interests by offering up things like “I love Cheetos” in the Twitter bio. In order to ensure brand messaging consistency, companies need to insert a shorter version of their values, mission, and passion. If too personal, consumers might think a company rep’s love for Cheetos is because he/she works for them. Here's a brief bio example I speak of:
- Addressing the issue publicly Honestly, what is the point of DMs (besides avoiding spam e-mail) if, by nature, all social networks and blogging platforms are meant to be transparent? Brands can stop a naysayer quicker by @-ing them. A DM message is not searchable, so when consumers are looking for answers via Twitter search, they won’t find a company’s reply to a very strongly worded consumer comment. And if you want to avoid spam e-mail, you can certainly DM them that info if further discussion is necessary.
- A ground for resource links Twitter is not the only way to communicating a promotion or contest, though companies love to do it all the time. But say a customer was to reply and ask what the promotion was and 140 characters didn’t allow for a good explanation. Hopefully, other communications would come into play, so Twitter could serve as a resource link to additional info on Web sites and blogs. Some companies have avoided this issue altogether by making their Twitter profile more concrete and theme-driven. Here's an example:
- Two Twitter accounts? If you’re a brand rep on Twitter and you really want to interact on a more personal level, a way that taps into your interests, you should consider creating both a personal Twitter account, and a professional one dedicated to brand values, mission, and passion. While I understand a professional Twitter account heightens the possibility of spam, it’s better than having mixed messages about the brand. If you’re McDonalds, you tweet about special menu deals, new products and service, and countries you love to visit. If you work for McDonalds, you tweet beyond your company and talk about your love for snacking on Cheetos, alternative music, and the hit television series “Lost.”
What are your thoughts on branding consistency via tweets?