By Julie DiCaro

Twitter is a Great Place For Brands to Be

By now, it’s safe to assume that most brands realize the value of Twitter. Twitter users, more than any other group on social media, can amplify a brand’s influence across the medium, leading to increased reach and visiblity. This means that if brands can identify their most influential advocates and engage them, they’ll get more bang for their buck on Twitter than on any other social network.

Yet brand Twitter account after brand Twitter account remains dusty, stale, and largely unused. It’s been days, weeks, even months since some brands have tweeted. Why is it that brands that do so well on Facebook and other social media seem so stymied when it comes to Twitter? The obvious answer is that some brands just don’t know what to tweet about.

So What Should Brands Say On Twitter?

When 435 Digital trains brand managers to use Twitter, we often talk about the “rule of one-third.” There are many different interpretations of the Rule, but we advise brands to think of it this way: No one likes to be stuck in the corner at a cocktail party with a person who only talks about himself. Twitter is much the same. If you tweet about a variety of different things, you’re much more likely to attract and engage followers than if you only talk about your brand. Put simply, brands should tweet one-third of the time about their brand, one-third of the time about their customers/followers, and one-third of the time about something interesting to everyone.

Taking a look at each category, a brands tweets might break down something like this:

Tweets About Your Brand:

1. Brand News: Customers are following your brand on Twitter for a reason. They want to hear about new products, research, and about the people behind your brand. Given that, brands should tweet the latest news coming out of their companies. Just don’t overdo it and don’t make every tweet sound like a press release. Mix it up. Be human.

2. Upcoming Events: Does your brand sponsor a walk? Take part in a charity fundraiser? Host corporate events? Launch products? Any major happenings on your company’s calendar can and should be tweeted out to the masses.

3. Don’t Forget the Pictures! Followers are twice as likely to click on a tweet that has a photo attached, even if they can’t immediately see the picture. So don’t forget to tweet out photos of your new products, team-building exercises, charity events, office parties, etc. Twitter loves to see the human faces behind your brand.

4. ReTweets of Positive Tweets About Your Brand: There are approximately 79 million brands (okay, we made that number up, but there are a lot) competing for attention on Twitter. Don’t be afraid to toot your brand’s horn. If a follower says something nice about your brand, retweet it to make sure everyone has a chance to see it! Again, don’t overdo it. One or two fan retweets a day is enough.

Tweets About Your Customers:

1. Customer Service:If your brand is on Twitter, it’s inevitable that you’re going to get complaints. Rather than look at customer complaints as a negative, use them to show the Twitterverse how plugged in and approachable your brand’s customer service is. A timely and sympathetic reply to a disgruntled customer, along with an email or phone number giving them direct access to a person who can handle their complaint, can do more for a brand’s image than dozens of self-serving tweets about how valued their customers are.

2. Ask Questions:If there’s one thing social media has taught us, it’s that people love to talk about themselves. Give them a reason to. Is a major holiday approaching? Ask people where they will be spending it. In the middle of football season? Ask your followers how they feel about their favorite team so far. Cold and rainy in your neck of the woods? Ask your tweeps (twitter + “peeps” = tweeps) where they would travel if they could travel anywhere in the world. The questions don’t matter as much as getting your followers talking does. Be sure to talk back!

Tweets That Are Interesting To Everyone

1. Industry News:If your brand is part of a specialized industry, you should feel free to share links about industry news that both you and your followers will find interesting. And while you may not want to act as a press agent for a competitor, a few polite tweets here and there about a rival’s accomplishments always looks good and may help increase your brand’s reach. Next time your brand has something exciting to say, you might be surprised to see a competitor do you the same favor. When it comes to the social media, generosity is currency: do for others as you want them to do for you.

2. Current Events:There’s a lot going on in the world, so talk about it! There’s no reason brands shouldn’t comment on the news and current events in their tweets, just like individuals do. While brands need to be careful to stay away from the obvious danger zones (politics and religion jump immediately to mind), tweets about pop culture, sports, science and technology, and entertainment are fair game. Recently, the Mars Rover “Curiosity” was the subject of thousands (maybe even millions) of tweets, by both brands and their customers.

Coming up with new things to tweet about, day after day, isn’t easy for any brand manger. However, by mixing up topics and making a real effort to engage followers, brands can get real value out of their Twitter accounts. Now go forth and tweet!