There is “no Twitter marketing revolution yet” according to Paul McIntyre in The Australian Financial Review.
That’s it then, we’ve had a few good years of Twitter while it lasted – everybody should pack up and go home.
Most people have heard Twitter described as the be-all-and-end-all media platform. But while Paul’s article focused on what is not working for brands on Twitter in Australia, in reality the issues that have plagued some brands apply to other social media platforms.
For some brands, social media has generated leads, engaged consumers, built relationships and elevated their brand. But not all brands have been successful.
A perfect example of this can be found in the response to last week’s Thankyou campaign. Thankyou (previously known as Thankyou Water) is petitioning Coles and Woolworths to stock a new range of food and beauty products by rallying their consumers to take social media action. Within minutes of the campaign’s launch, hundreds of customers petitioned both retailers. The response on Facebook? A message from Coles that reflects their brand values.
In contrast, Woolworths shared a more formal, press-release-style statement.
Side by side the nuances may seem minor – the gist of the response is similar, it’s just the tone that’s different – but the data shows the impact. With a similar audience size (500,000), Coles had double the engagement rate, meaning that more people shared their post. This comparison is based on the brand’s Facebook responses, and the same lessons apply to Twitter. A Twitter comparison of the two is impossible because Woolworths, one of Australia’s largest brands, has chosen not to use the medium.
While Woolworth’s decision may seem surprising, the number of highly publicised “Twitter fails”, the lack of understanding around the medium, and the relatively limited audience (compared to Facebook) contribute to underuse, overuse and misuse of twitter by companies of all types across Australia. Common mistakes surface again and again, and even if they don’t always make the news you can bet that they are damaging brand image and missing valuable opportunities.
MISTAKE #1: THE BROADCAST APPROACH
This is common practice for brands transitioning from old media, but it’s far from effective. Continuously broadcasting information and marketing about themselves, brands miss the “social” in social media.
Many users will unfollow, or hide posts from self-involved friends, let alone from brands! In social media, brands compete for space by creating compelling audience-focused content – it needs to contribute to a brand’s image and objectives, but it can’t smell like marketing.
MISTAKE #2: ONLY USING SOCIAL AS A MARKETING CHANNEL
The brands that broadcast almost always make a second and related mistake, limiting social media to marketing tool when it can be so much more. Customer service, research and sales have huge social media potential, but sadly most brands tend to choose one of these silos and stick to it stubbornly.
MISTAKE #3: NOT CATERING TO YOUR AUDIENCE
The number of brands auto-Tweeting content from other sources is thankfully on the decline, but that’s only most blatant example of a continuing social media mistake – failing to cater to specific audiences. Twitter is not Facebook; the audience and interactions are very different. Listening to your audience on each platform, monitoring their interaction and engagement and creating a strategy with them in mind is key.
MISTAKE #4: OUTSOURCING
Perhaps the most significant mistake is the outsourcing of social media. Outsourcing often means that social media is treated as an extension of an ad campaign, and takes it away from those who know the brand best.
Obviously the real social media winner in the Thankyou story is Thankyou. themselves – and not just because Coles and Woolworths are thinking of stocking their products. Their effective use of social media shows a deep knowledge of the realm and invites meaningful participation from consumers. Even if Thankyou products don’t make it into the major supermarket chains, they have connected with thousands of potential customers who will seek them out.
Coles demonstrates its brand values in its response to Thankyou’s campaign.
Woolworths takes a more formal approach.
So often in social media it’s these small, agile companies that lead the way, while larger organisations struggle to throw off the legacy of internal processes built for traditional advertising and PR campaigns. Leading digital strategist Chris Brogan has described the mechanical state of social media marketing as depressing. And I agree. Social media is not a channel that should be invested in as a line item next to “outdoor advertising”. Social media’s true value is in socialising your business to meet the needs of its customers.
But for now, have a laugh and look at Bank of America’s Twitter account, which is described as a “really dumb robot”.