A few days back, there were a couple of very interesting posts on Mashable – on the topic of whether brands belong to Twitter- one post against, and a couple of days later, a rebuttal. The first post first suggests a fee for brands to be part of Twitter, and then says that they should be banned altogether since it would be against the spirit of Twitter. It finally advocates the use of personalities, since people like to talk to people. The second post, while agreeing that spam accounts are generally disliked, states that brands can have personalities too, and gives some great examples, and tips for brands on Twitetiquette.
I thought these posts and the issue of bloggers being paid to write posts about brands (which surfaces when we are sufficiently bored of doing this guy’s job of finding revenue models for social media) were two sides of the same coin. The issue of trust is being tackled from two sides.
In the case of brands being on Twitter, the argument is that faceless brands cannot be authentic or transparent like a real person. How can we trust such an entity? In the case of bloggers who are paid to write posts about brands, the argument is that if they are paid for it, how can we trust the veracity of what they’ve written?
In both the cases, the answer will emerge by itself, in time. If brands use this as a one way communication medium, to just broadcast, without having interesting conversations or adding value for the audience, the crowd will treat it as a broadcaster and move away, unless there is some really awesome content being shared all the while. If bloggers make up stuff about a brand, and transmit it to their readers, the crowd will remember not to trust them the next time.
A bit more on the topic of brands on Twitter, since its debatable whether the brand should be itself, or have a spokesperson who represents it. Its understood that behind every brand (not including spam accounts) on Twitter, is a human being, even he is one that first configured Twitterfeed to send out ‘auto tweets’. So, I am guessing that what would’ve happened more often than not, is that an individual came on to twitter, discovered how cool it was, and then decided that it was a great place for his organisation/brand to communicate to the outside world, which contains his consumers and potential consumers. A chance for the brand to talk about itself, and hear from consumers what they had to say.
The individual would already have an equity on Twitter, and would enjoy the trust of those who follow him. Considering how a blogger who writes a paid-for-post (even with disclosure) is almost crucified, it is understandable if he wouldn’t want to mix his own equity with that of the brand’s equity, especially when there is every chance that the organisation may not have a policy on social media, and he wouldn’t be getting paid like the celebrity blogger. Also he doesn’t even know how long he would be with the organisation. Lastly, by mixing a personal account with a brand, the person might be constrained to speak of things in context with what the organisation does.
Keeping all this in mind, I’d have liked to say that brands belong on Twitter, as brands. After all, we already have people building personal brands. In fact, organisations should perhaps look at multi functional teams which can communicate with consumers on different aspects with authority and domain knowledge, so that over a period of time, they can re-create the credibility they enjoy in the real world, in the digital world too. This post, however, gives some great points on why the logo should be replaced by a public face.
In summation, though, I’d have to say that as always with any strategy, it’d have to boil down to intent. As this wonderful post correctly says, “The beauty of Twitter is that it is what you make of it, and you can make so many things of it”. What do you think?
until next time, brands are limitless characters?
PS. … and in this season of giving, here are 2 good resources I’d like to share with you
In return, i’d request you to give a few minutes of your time and participate in the Exchange4Media.com & Blogworks.in Blog & Social Media survey.
Merry Christmas everyone, have a great 2009, and I’ll see you next year .