Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
December 20, 200810:01 PM

Make Your Brand Personal

There's a new gizmo called Mr. Tweet. If you're on Twitter and you follow Mr. Tweet, it will send you a list of recommendations for people who you should follow. Beyond being an interesting tool to meet more interesting people, it seems like more and more companies are entering the Twitter fray that are doing little more than using it as a broadcast channel to sell you something. Here's what all brands need to know about these social channels...

There have been countless Blog postings on how complicated those 140 characters can be in terms of building a community, being interesting to others and having people notice and want to be connected to you on Twitter. It's an ever-growing environment, and I am personally seeing many more people following me over the past few weeks after being found through Mr. Tweet. I don't follow everybody back, but I do follow one rule, almost religiously: I never add a company that is following me.

Make your brand personal.

Hypothetical scenario: Scott Dilbert is the owner of Slam Good Media. Scott and his team provide event marketing solutions in the New York area. He's worked on cool projects like the premiere of some blockbuster Hollywood flicks and even did the in-store events surrounding the launch of last year's biggest video game hit. If someone called, Slam Good Media, adds me on Twitter with some of the tweets reading like, "check out the latest movie opening for..." it is doubtful to get an add. But, if I get a follow request from Scott Dilbert and his bio says: "CEO of Slam Good Media - we help launch products and have done exactly that for..." odds are, if the tweets are personal, relevant to me and interesting, it will get added.

What's the big difference?

Like all great and successful brands, it's the small little things that work so well. Twitter - for now - is all about people connecting to people. Scott may want his Twitter-feed to not be so personal, if that's the case it might be worthwhile to pursue another channel. If you think about it, the same rule - making your brand personal - applies to Blogs, Podcasts, etc... The more personal and human the person is, the more interested others will be in the brand... the more connections seem to happen. Many people are uber-excited about the prospect of using these online channels to advance their personal brands (I am one of those people), the other side of personal branding is recognizing that in a world where individuals can connect and grow their brands as far and wide as many corporate brands, one of the best chances any company has of connecting in these social channels is to identify the people within the organization who can represent, connect and become the human embodiment of the company brand. Look no further than what Dell is doing on Twitter. Scott needs to be Scott. In these specific channels, Scott will always be more interesting than a company branded feed with no human attribution (just who is writing these tweets anyway?).

Be human.

Look at all of the social channels that your company is presently engaged with or thinking of playing in and ask yourself who - in the company - will be the best brand evangelists and representatives? Who can you highlight within your organization that will be interested enough to connect, respond and take action? There is a temptation to name everything after your company, but stop and think about allowing a real human being to take the spotlight and let them explain their title, their role and let them connect in a much more human way. Yes, certain companies can get away with being a person-less Twitter feed (companies like CNN, offering news feeds or a school using the channel to notify their parents of closings, etc...), but the best people to follow on Twitter... are the real people.

How do you feel about following companies on Twitter?

By Mitch Joel


Comments Comments Feed
  • Mitch Joel

    I have no problem being followed by a company. And I will follow a company if the information is relevant and non-invasive. Like you said, they need to personalize the corporation and speak to you, not at you.

    Reply
  • Posted by Ari Herzog
    Mitch Joel

    I am writing this sentence on a Toshiba laptop. If I have a question about something, I'd prefer messaging @Toshiba, not @JohnSmith or @ToshibaJosh.

    If a Pizza Hut pizza tastes wrong after having it delivered from the restaurant, I'd rather send a quick tweet to @PizzaHut and know someone will respond.

    But by the same token, I would want @Toshiba's and @PizzaHut's Twitter profiles to include the names to the people behind it. If the data can't fit on the profile's bio, then the web link should point to a FAQ with the names and titles of the people behind the brand on Twitter.

    It's cliche but Comcast has it right. They have a team of about 10 employees - @ComcastBill, @ComcastGeorge, etc - who respond to people's tweets to them or to @ComcastCares or who gripe to no one in particular that Comcast service sucks.

    I follow very few companies. But those I follow are personalized, and that's where I get value. If a company is not personalized, forget it. If a company is not a company but a person, I'll never find him or her....which begs the question if he or she is constantly searching Twitter and responding to people who tweet about their brands, such as the folks at Delicious.com who tweeted me today after I griped about the tool.

    If you haven't read it yet, you may enjoy this brand tweeting piece from Laura Fitton's (@Pistachio) blog that pits Mark Drapeau (@cheeky_geeky) against Jonathan Kash (@time2simplify): http://pistachioconsulting.com/debate-twitter-brands/

    - Ari Herzog, @ariherzog

    Reply
  • I follow constant contact cos they started following me and answering any questions I had about their service. Way cool. I don't follow the ones that just follow you and do no relationship building.

    Reply
  • Posted by Bobette Kyle
    Mitch Joel

    I am fine with brands being represented on Twitter. I expect the Twitter name to represent that brand, but there to be an actual person on the account. I'd prefer the avatar to be include a picture of that person, but do follow a few that that logo-as-avatar. What I'm not fine with is anyone using it as a purely promotional medium.

    Reply
  • Posted by Daniel Patricio
    Mitch Joel

    No offence Mitch but I think I agree with Ari Herzog's comments more.

    How else could Dell or Amazon's twitter sales channels could have worked?

    I think companies need two faces. I would follow @SlamGood for the information that is relevant to me and so I can have a two way conversation, think two way interactive RSS. I would also like to know that @dilbert manages it.

    If I followed @dilbert and he contributed successfully as a person I would be more likely to listen to the content coming from @slamgood

    Reply
  • Well, this is interesting. I guess as long as they make the brand really personal, it can work.

    I think with bigger brands this all makes sense, but I am seeing a lot of start-ups on Twitter use their company name and logo, with a lot of spammy-type messages. I think they would fare a lot better if they were represented by the individual over the company.

    Reply
  • Posted by Ryan Stephens
    Mitch Joel

    An interesting conversation is definitely developing here. I read Mitch's post and was in total agreement, but I like the point that Ari made and Daniel has reinforced. Then, I also agree with the counter by Mitch.

    In a smaller, start-up type venture I want to talk to follow Peter Kim and Jeffrey Dachis, or Penelope Trunk. I don't want to follow Stealth Startup or Brazen Careerist (or do I?)

    Penelope quickly nixed the Brazen Careerist ID on Twitter that Monica O'Brien was using to have conversations with Gen Y, and to share relevant and valuable articles. It was being used well. Because of that, I followed both.

    I don't usually follow a brand with just a logo (Zappos is one of the exceptions), but I know Tony is behind there and he's very human with it.

    As a big company, I think I want to see the @PizzaHut, but I also want to see the pizza hut employees and advocates reaching out in addition to that ID. It makes the entire team seem a lot more credible (ala the Comcast group).

    I guess it boils down to 'being human,' and if they're capable of that with a company-wide ID and use other mediums to give us that FACE-TIME, then that's okay with me.

    Reply
  • Posted by JD Lasica
    Mitch Joel

    I've begun following a few companies on Twitter just to see how they're interacting in this new social media ecosystem - sometimes in interesting ways.

    BTW, thanks for not having a pathetic captcha system.

    Reply
  • Mitch Joel

    It will be interesting to see what the expectations are regarding content. Do people want day-to-day stuff in a corporate twitter account, or only information directly relating to actual product and the organisation in general.

    I think that there needs to be some kind of an entertainment aspect to the content, but that is just me.

    Reply
  • When I started to write this post, my focus was going to be for companies to embrace the personal brands of their employees, but never forget that the company - in and of itself - would have to also become a lot more personal in these new channels.

    I wanted management types - from both start-ups and big companies - to know that it is smart to put some human flavor around their brand. That everything should not be info@. I guess I've been on a bit of a Twitter thought lately, so the focus was there.

    Overall, companies need their people to come through here. It's about much more than the company name and logo, which seems to make me feel like someone, somewhere is hiding behind something.

    Reply
  • Posted by Jonathan Trenn
    Mitch Joel

    I don't have a problem if a start up or other types of businesses have a @company handle and once and a while tweet something that comes off as being promotional. The problem is frequency, which is relevant to the amount of followers a receiver has and also relevant to the percentage of promotional tweets the corporation has in relation to their overall tweets.

    Got that? ; )

    And I don't have a problem with things like Mr. Tweet if I get the gist of it. It tells you people that you may have an interest in following, people who you may find interesting.

    I guess what I'm saying is that I look at these things on an individual basis. Just as I do with blogs.

    Reply
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