5 Reasons Brands Should NOT to be Scared of Twitter

5 Reasons Brands Should NOT to be Scared of Twitter

11th January 2011

People are often afraid of what they don’t understand.

You can find this behaviour in all walks of life, from school children hating algebra to your grandmother being too scared to touch the computer in case she breaks it. It is only natural.

So since my grandmother isn’t present here are 5  reasons businesses are scared to use Twitter and the reasons why they shouldn’t be.

1.    It’s Just Not Profitable

Some businesses refuse to use Twitter as they deem it not profitable. Although measurement is a key part of the online landscape I think it is unhealthy and counterproductive to quantify every drop of blood, sweat or tear. Twitter has been very profitable and has had some tangible benefits for some business (Dell recently reported  $6.5 million in sales via Twitter)but more often than not it can have intangible benefits for a brand such as adding value and increasing brand loyalty in competitive markets. Now here comes the catch… ready? It only works if you do not use it as a business tool and instead treat it more like a platform to talk to people. If you do a bit of digging you can clearly see a pattern of how business are being successful. Firstly, they are not tweeting about their business, but instead as Internet Psychologist Graham Jones explains “they are simply being social; chatting, holding conversations, being friendly, even showing altruistic kindness. When you see Twitter merely as a system to hold conversations, as a social tool, your business will do well out of it.” Many businesses might not profit in a monetary sense straight away but can utilise the tool to strengthen relationships with existing customers which can ultimately improve key metrics such as life time value.

All the time you see it as a business tool it will fail you. One great example of this is the Habitat Case Study who treated Twitter as a business tool and spammed irrelevant and popular #hashtags to gain exposure. You can guess how well it worked out… Explained in more detail here

2.    Another Channel for Customers to Complain

There is a lot of talk that social networks have led to a rise in the amount of customer complaints. There is certainly good ground for this argument but let’s get real, just because you don’t have a presence on Twitter it won’t stop people complaining. What it will do is restrict you from joining the conversation, resolving the issue and repairing your reputation. Research carried out by LexusNexus showed that “Brands not paying attention to what their customers say about them on sites such as Twitter may change their attitudes after a survey showed that 60% of people have chosen not to buy or use a product or service after reading negative comments about them online.”

So why opt to bury your head in the sand? Companies need to start viewing customer complaints as an opportunity to address negative feelings rather than ignoring them and making it worse. A study by Robert East ‘Analysing Customer Complaining’ found that people who complain can often be transformed into vocal advocates for the brand if the complaint is managed well.

This tweet by Innocent Drinks is a perfect example of how to turn a bad situation into a lasting good impression. The problem is addressed in a friendly manner and most importantly the brand seems approachable and shows that they value their customers.

3.    We have No Control Over what is Being Said

Ok, hands up, you got me… I can’t argue with this reason. Clearly you don’t have 100% total control about what people say about your brand online, however, by having a Twitter account you can guide conversations, influence opinions and create positive impressions. All of which is a lot more than you can do without an account. If you can’t control what is being said then the very least you can do is monitor online chatter so you can understand external impressions about your brand and respond accordingly.

The example above shows that you can gain control over where the conversation takes place. Instead of the original tweeter moaning about the brand to their friends online The Home Depot have acted and swiftly taken the conversation into a more private setting. Once again reinforcing that Twitter is a great tool for brand reputation management. Instead of just using Twitter to be reactive to customer queries and complaints you can gain some control over what is being said by being proactive . Put business to one side and ask your followers questions, get to know them and you might like what you hear.

4.    Mistakes Can’t be Corrected or Covered Up

Some businesses and even popular celebrities are scared to use Twitter due to the instantaneous nature of the platform. Sir Alan Sugar recently said “I was reluctant in case I made a mug of myself”t’s important to realise there is no right and wrong on Twitter, just the way you want your brand to be perceived. Twitter gives you the chance to give your brand a personable voice and you can do this by interacting in real time with your followers and the latest news and events.  Remember, it’s ok to fail. As long as you learn from your mistakes quickly and apologise publicly. People are a lot more forgiving when you admit to your mistakes rather than deny any wrongdoing.

The recent Pepsi fail example clearly shows that Pepsi were monitoring the negative feedback about their latest energy drink Amp and acted swiftly to apologise.

5.    It doesn’t fit into Current Company Structure

You may be confused but let me explain…I have experienced this first hand. Some companies just don’t know where the responsibility of social media falls. Is it the responsibility of the marketing, communications, content production or PR department? Will it cause internal conflict if I give it to one particular department instead of another? These are some of the questions that have been raised simply by the suggestion of using Twitter to speak to customers.

Remember as long as it is given to someone who understands the dynamics of social media you will be fine. It helps if they leave their position at the door though as you don’t want it to be overly self promotional from the PR department or a tweet every 10 minutes from the content department as both of these will stop people following you. Find the right balance and agree on the tone of voice and have faith in your employees.

Written By
Sam Murray graduated from University with a BA (Hons) in Marketing in 2007 and wrote his 10,000 word dissertation on Search Marketing. Sam is a freelance search manager.
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