Twitterings: time to take a risk.

I wanted to talk about some of my thoughts on social media strategy, as it’s not something I’ve covered much before. I have a lot more than the usual 500 words (my usual word limit, as much for my sanity as yours)  to say on the subject. So, I’m going to split this into two parts, the first focusing solely on Twitter, because, well, I like Twitter. The second post, making an appearance next week, will be on content generation, different platforms and whatever else takes my fancy.

Twitter personalities.

Countless companies are now representing themselves on Twitter in various capacities. Be it as a customer service or update feed, a news and events channel, or, a mere extension of their brand into a different medium. Or several of the above.
The latter is definitely the trickiest and in my humble opinion should never be the sole reason for starting up on Twitter. A presence just for the sake of establishing a presence, makes it much less likely that you have anything interesting to say and the internet has quite enough of that already!

The nature of Twitter means it is possible to create a more informal relationship with consumers, to establish a dialogue and maybe even comment on your brand in a way that would rarely be endorsed in more traditional marketing channels. It is an unprecedented opportunity to be honest with people, and hopefully to strike a chord.

Twitter case studies.

london-underground-poster-art-exhibition--cover-hori

Let me give you an example: I have been following @TLFTravelAlerts for about two months now. According to their profile, they provide:

Sporadic tube, rail and bus updates for London. And #boats. We have#boats now. Also, trams. Not really real, really. At all.

Zones 1 – 6. Not 7, though.

As far as I’m aware, it is in no way connected with Transport for London and is one, or several, very funny people, possibly with too much time on their hands. The result however, is a brilliantly ridiculous yet truthful satire of the Tube. And people like it: it’s gone from about 5k followers a month ago to nearly 15k as of today.  It’s easy to say that it wouldn’t be half as popular if it were officially connected to TFL. Before we tackle that, I want to talk about the effect I believe it could have if, hypothetically speaking, it were a part of a social media campaign for the real TFL and why the unconventional route might be a good one in this case.

The underground is pretty unconventional.  It has a colourful 150 year history- originally built by several private companies, who competed against each other to complete separate lines. It’s as much a part of the national imagination as rain, and possibly even tea: everyone who’s used it has an opinion on it, ranging from the tolerant to the violently negative. Because of this, I think it’s an example of when honesty is definitely the best policy. Acknowledging imperfections and even getting people to laugh at them could well be a route to success. After all, we Brits are often endeared to the things we like to criticise, it gives us a sense of ownership, and a chance to bond over something other than the weather.
Another reason I am so drawn to this idea, is that it has the ability to make something magical out of the mundane. With WiFi at an increasing number of underground stations, it is something you can do while on the Tube, to distract yourself from being on the Tube.

Here’s a selection of their tweets:

Some poke fun at stereotypes of Londoners and the Tube…

The 171 bus is suspended after a man sat next to someone when there were clearly two adjoining empty seats available.

Some are inspired by fantastical wordplay…

One does not simply walk into Morden. It is folly. One gets the Northern Line, or a variety of buses. Most of which appear to be working.

Some are even poetical…

Past clubs and kebabs and nightlife galore, Shovelling fried chicken all over the floor. Pulling up Whitehall, a steady climb, The traffic lights against her, but she’s on time. A seat for the rich, a seat for the poor, If we’re honest, mostly the poor. This is the night bus, leaving the square, Picking up the late and the worse for wear.

Generally, they have one thing in common, they make you smile and lighten your day. That  kind of marketing never goes out of fashion.  This irreverent approach is actually being picked up by some companies on Twitter. @Arenaflowers, for example, who tweet frequently in an amusing and often surreal manner, usually totally unrelated to their product. Undeniably, this wouldn’t work for every brand, but it is a good way to stand out and if done right, can build genuine affection for your brand. For now, Twitter is the best place to try it out.

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