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Should brands use Twitter

December 14, 2008

Dr. Mark Drapeau, wrote a post on Machable called “Do Brands Belong on Twitter?”

Here’s an expert:

“Twitter is about people sharing information with other people. So how do one-dimensional organizational brands fit into this mix? When you really think about it, they don’t. As an analogy, when you call customer service, a human answers the phone (eventually) and tells you their name – and you’re not talking to “Sprint” or “Dell” but rather “Steve” or “Danny.”

So, does anyone really want to talk to @DunkinDonuts? Or would they rather talk to Bill Rosenberg, the founder of Dunkin Donuts of Canton, MA, or perhaps the local franchise owner on Capitol Hill, or a disgruntled but funny summer employee punching in at 4am? People connect with people, and so I think the latter.”

Dunkin Donuts sign
Image via Wikipedia

I’m not going to tell all brands that they should use Twitter. Some breads do it well, and some even use real people to speak on their behalf. Dell does it well.

But I will tell you that if the logo is beside the brand, then the Tweets should be in the voice of the brand. Not the voice of “Danny”.

Brands spend a large amount of time and effort to speak in a voice to their customers. When people go into a Dunkin Donuts, it’s painstakingly set up to look like the one in the next city. Dunkin Donuts doesn’t want the franchise owner on Capitol Hill making his own POP, so why would nay marketer advocate that he engage customers via Twitter?

Now, one would say that that’s the point of Twitter. To egnage people. At a Twitter meetup, someone opined that they didn’t want marketers coming into Twitter. I would counter that Twitterers are getting a crash course in marketing. The point is, everyone who uses Twitter is using it for Marketing. Even if it’s just marketing their blog post. Or marketing their smarts. It’s all marketing, and I get frustrated when people look me in the eye and tell me they dislike marketers, and then Tweet it.

But I digress. The point is brands using Twitter (and scaling it, at some point). Brands take a lot of time, energy and money to speak in one voice. Letting the franchise owner from Capitol Hill speak on behalf of the brand dilutes it, and wastes the efforts the brand has already put into marketing.

So, an obvious solution would be a feed that was @Dunkin_Capitol_Hill (or something). This would be a perfect execution of the kind of thing that Dr. Drapeau wants, but this is clearly not brands using Twitter. This is a Franchisee using Twitter. And that’s great. I’m all for it. But if I live in Buffalo, I could give a rats ass what the guy in Capitol Hill thinks.

So then, maybe we forsee a day where the main street Buffalo Dunkin has a feed. And the other Buffalo locations have feeds. And all the thousands of Dunkin’s from acrsoss the country have feed. And then what?

Twitter isn’t different from other marketing tools. It’s a conversation, yes, but it’s still important that the terms of the conversation, and the tone of the voice of the brand, reflect the brand. And brands aren’t people. So, I would say that if Dunkin Donuts wants a Twitter feed, it has to reflect the tone of the brand. Not the tone of some dude. Because a dude doesn’t scale.

Now, clearly I’m biased. I advocate that ad agencies, and copywriters in particular, are perfect for capturing the voice of brands. And if the brand can’t capture the voice, then it should steer clear of Social Media. Especially Twitter. Because this little free tool could cost it in the long run.

Zemanta thoughtfully offers the article below. It’s like they know me.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. December 15, 2008 10:24 am

    The answer is that brands should be on twitter. We recently conducted a survey and the large majority of users on twitter think it is a very positive thing if done properly. There is a right and wrong way.

    More details to follow.

    Rodney Rumford

  2. December 15, 2008 10:54 am

    I agree Rodney. Then the next question becomes, how?

    Should they be in the voice of the brand? Or the voice of a person, which is the Dell model, where @RichardatDell responds to you.

    Clearly, I’m biased for the first one.


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