The Smarter Way to Humanize Your Company's Use of Twitter
Providing the appropriate voice for your brand on Twitter can be a challenge for many content strategists to navigate, especially when your tweets are under constant scrutiny from your audience. This can become even more difficult for larger corporations when their Twitter content needs to be approved by legal departments before publishing.
While precautionary steps can help protect your brand from a potential PR disaster, strict corporate guidelines tend to dilute the personality of Twitter content and can make tweets sound bland, too sales oriented, or even robotic. This can likely take a toll on audience engagement rates, because people generally want to interact on a more personal level, something that automation and scripted content can negatively affect.
Adding a human element to your company’s Twitter efforts can help overcome these issues and prove to be a valuable tactic for generating more social sales, growing your brand’s influence and for conducting market research.
The challenge is persuading your followers to feel an emotional connection with your business -- but when was the last time you felt strongly about a logo? It’s the people behind the logo that makes a brand truly memorable.
Learn smarter ways to humanize your organization on Twitter to add a stronger element of trust with your customers and increase the likelihood of influencing your followers to take more meaningful actions with your business.
Highlight your team, relate to followers.
One tactic that businesses can use to add personality to their Twitter account is to showcase their employees and encourage them to actively participate in social conversations.
Sprout Social’s friendly team photo creates a welcoming face to their business.
Sprout tactfully uses a friendly image of their team on their Twitter profile which grabs the attention of their followers and provides insight into the personality of their brand. This image says, “We’re people just like you, we laugh, we have fun -- also we have this great product that we work on together.”
Sprout Social also maintains a list of their team member’s Twitter profiles -- a look into the faces behind their brand.
Related: 10 Tips for Mastering Twitter
Many of the Sprout employees participate in ongoing social activities such as the weekly #SproutChat and help distribute content through their connected networks. Sprout understands that their staff is likely to already be their biggest cheerleaders, be well informed of their product, and be their go-to brand ambassadors. This strategy expands Sprout Social’s reach while also adding a personal touch to their Twitter efforts.
“At SproutSocial, we've focused on building personal relationships with our community by using any background we have, like history of conversation or profile notes. For #SproutChat, I've engaged with the community through my @Sprout_Sarah handle, representing the business, but also my personality in the name, as well as my profile avatar and header image.
I'm fortunate for the alliteration, I think it feels friendly and approachable. I also make an effort to meet members of the community when traveling. Connecting in person fosters a level of trust that often takes years to achieve online.” -- Sarah Nagel, community manager at SproutSocial.
For a fortune 500 company or other larger corporations, managing an entire team of personal accounts can become quite a headache, not to mention a potentially complicated PR situation.
One way that these companies can incorporate more personal elements into their Twitter use, is to manage a trained team of social media representatives. For example, Verizon Wireless Support created a department of customer service and social media specialists to tackle their large influx of inquiries on Twitter and other channels.
With proper training protocols to ensure that their brand guidelines are enforced, Verizon is able to tackle thousands of tweets a day in a timely manner from multiple touch points. Each representative signs their tweet with their initials which serves two benefits: tracking of customer service issues and informing their followers that they are speaking with real people.
Some other areas on Twitter that you can focus on becoming more human include:
Use regularly scheduled Twitter chats.
Whether you are hosting or just participating in Twitter chats, you can reap the rewards of an active open forum environment. Twitter chats are an opportunity for your company and your employees to meet “face-to-face” with your followers, customers, and other people that may be interested in your industry conversations.
To build a stronger human element for your brand, encourage your employees to participate in the most relevant and popular chats as they relate to your business needs and industry.
Additionally, consider creating and branding your own Twitter chat to add insight into your industry. This can expand your company’s influence by building more personal connections with your followers, and can also help promote your channel as well as yield a variety of other benefits.
Highlight your most engaged followers.
When you have brand advocates or fans calling your company out on Twitter, be sure to show them that you care. Retweet their content and mention them in a post to show your appreciation; generally, people like to know that their input is appreciated and valued.
Highlighting your engaged followers can encourage them continually promote your brand in hopes of receiving a shout out or recognition from your company but it is also important because it draws attention to the people that use your products or enjoy your services -- again adding a real human example.
Personally respond to direct messages.
If your company receives a direct message, whether it be a complaint, compliment, or general comment, you should respond in a timely and professional manner. Even negative feedback is a terrific opportunity to have an in-depth conversation with your audience, learn more about how your content is affecting your followers, and inform how you should approach your Twitter strategy moving forward.
Send Tweets for entertainment.
Not every tweet that you send needs to have a link to a landing page or promotion. Sending tweets purely to captivate your audience with interesting and shareable content is a tactic that can help your brand focus more on your follower’s needs, rather than your own agenda.
Related: The Secrets of 7 Successful Brands
Consider experimenting with the 80/20 rule to content -- where 80 percent of your content is to support your audience’s interest with little or no branding and 20 percent of your content is centered around your business. Finding the correct tweet cadence that works for your audience is important when understanding how you can best portray your brand in a personable and effective manner.
Keep it within your guidelines to protect your brand.
Every time that you send branded content to the public, you should be extremely cautious not to offend anyone or promoting your content in a way that could harm your brand. You should set up a social media policy that clearly illustrated how your employees should behave on social media.
To some, Twitter best practices are common sense -- to others with less experience, it could be an afterthought. This can be particularly true when you begin involving other staff members to participate in social media to better humanize your brands.
When you develop your Twitter policy, don’t just lay out rules and guidelines, but provide clear examples of what your content should and shouldn’t look like. This helps inform your employees that are unfamiliar with social media policies and gives them straightforward guidelines on how your brand should be represented online.