How to Send a Great Brand Message in 140 Characters or Less
9 in 10 US companies are using social media for marketing purposes, according to data from eMarketer:
Perhaps the unique among these is Twitter, which beautifully walks the fine line between blogging and instant messaging. It has enabled and encouraged brands to engage in open and spontaneous communication with both users and other companies. Some of the things that make Twitter inimitable include:
- Immediacy: Users can report and comment on events in real-time. News breaks faster on Twitter than anywhere else. Unlike a blog, you don’t have to think before you speak or back up your point of view.
- Sustained broadcast: With tweets now visible in Google’s search results, your thoughts are available to not only those who don’t actively follow you but also those who’re outside the platform itself. And they don’t disappear altogether once they’re out there.
- Influencer access: Celebrities and industry leaders simply love to express their thoughts candidly on Twitter. This is the horse’s mouth in flesh and blood – ok, well, 0s and 1s.
- Non-invasive: Your followers aren’t your “friends” or “connections,” so you can say what you like. Unlike IM, you can answer messages when you have the time or inclination, or just choose not to.
Twitter’s strengths make it seem that you can say what you want to whom you want when you want to, but that’s okay only if you’re doing so at an individual level. If you’re a business or a brand, the game changes. With only 140 characters per tweet, each letter, symbol, hashtag, or link must be carefully planned and positioned. It’s not as easy as it looks, but it’s also not arduous. Let’s explore how you can use Twitter as a vehicle to deliver your brand message to the masses.
Create A Stellar Profile
If you’re new to Twitter (yes, that still happens) or don’t use it much yet, let’s start with square one: your profile. Create a Twitter handle that is simply your brand name (@yourbrand). A different handle can lead to confusion and result in missed traffic. If @yourbrand is taken, do what you’d do to get a domain name. It’s that important.
When creating your page, keep in mind that your profile picture will be seen all across Twitter every time you tweet, whereas your profile itself will only be seen by those who visit your page directly. Think of the profile as a home you show guests, while the profile picture is the car you’re seen driving around in.
Here is PlayStation’s Twitter profile. They’ve used a cover photo and color scheme that matches their brand perfectly. The profile picture is simply their logo while the bio promotes new products and also directs users to the Twitter account for their helpdesk.
The goal is to paint a clear picture of your business with every action you take on Twitter.
Define and Refine Your Voice
Before you release any tweets, it’s imperative to have a clear brand personality and a tone to reflect it. Your voice must fall in line with exactly what you want to say and whom you are trying to reach. There is a common misconception among brands that they must directly imitate their target audience to get the best response. Businesses should speak the language of their consumer, no doubt. However, they need not speak the same words. Brand voice is the spine of the business, and there’s no place like Twitter to show you have one.
Denny’s is one of the few brands that does this consistently well:
a denny's haiku
when the heart races
it could mean you are in love.
or too much coffee.
— Denny’s (@DennysDiner) February 1, 2017
“Brand voice is something we are constantly refining. Most of the time it is not directly about us. A voice should be empowering, supportive, and forward-thinking.”
– Gina Greco, Senior Research Manager, MECLABS Institute
Generally speaking, consumers want to feel engaged with the brands they interact with but don’t necessarily want them as friends. They’re only there for the money:
So, don’t get too serious about the “customer-brand relationship” part:
BREAKING: Woman Admits To Having Emotional Relationship With Several Paper Towel Brands At Same Time pic.twitter.com/gvWU52uqTw
— ADWEAK (@adweak) May 25, 2016
According to Internet Live Stats, on average, 6,000 tweets go out every second. That’s 360,000 tweets per minute, 21,600,000 per hour, and 518,400,000 per day – an intimidating number to say the least! How do you ensure your tweet isn’t just watered under the bridge?
Don’t try to do too much with a tweet with GIFs, quotes, mentions, and hashtags. You can always include a relevant link when necessary.
A good tweet makes a statement. A GREAT tweet starts conversations. As Twitter is characterized by short and concise posts, make sure each tweet has one specific message. Here is a perfect example from Southwest Airlines:
Amber wanted to send love to her niece having open-heart surgery. As the love airline, we were honored to help! https://t.co/YZIRb7O2AD
— Southwest Airlines (@SouthwestAir) August 8, 2016
The copy is compelling and sends a clear message: Southwest Airlines cares about its customers.
They also included a link to their website with a captivating picture. Each of your brand posts should be an engine that drives interactions among users.
Brevity is key to Twitter’s success; therefore, it’s the key to success on Twitter. Attention spans are at an all-time low, and nowadays, more doesn’t equal merrier.
Human beings because human seeing. A study at the University of Minnesota found that humans process images 60,000 times faster than text, and 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual. Not only is visual content more engaging, but it acts as a filter to find what’s important in the constant overload of content users are exposed to.
According to Chute, visual content performs 4.4 times better on social media than text-based content. Simply put, a good visual puts your tweet in a much better position to catch consumers scrolling through their timelines. If you’re having trouble finding the perfect image to go with your thoughts or opinions, Pablo is a user-friendly tool that lets you create original graphics for your posts within seconds.
— Buffer (@buffer) March 27, 2015
Or, you could use an online presentation or infographic tool such as Visme to quickly create featured images or graphics to go with your blog content:
Use Relevant Hashtags
Hashtags were introduced by Twitter shortly after it took the social media landscape by storm. Hashtags are made up of specific words or phrases created by users to start conversations about certain topics or issues. These days, Twitter is far better at gauging what’s being talked about and what’s trending, but they haven’t forsaken the humble hashtag:
To expand your brand’s reach, it is very important to keep up with current trends and strategically place relevant hashtags within your message. As a general rule of thumb, use a maximum of two per tweet.
Charmin is well-known for its witty social media presence. In the following example, they use an original image paired with a clever punchline to jump in on a trending conversation (#FirstDayOfFall) as well as ride on the back of the evergreen #TBT (Throwback Thursday) hashtag. Brand message delivered in a short, hilarious tweet:
— Charmin (@Charmin) September 22, 2016
Managing a social media account is no easy task. In fact, it’s a 24/7 job. Over the past decade, social media has become a prominent platform for quick customer service. Lithium Technologies found that more than half of the users who contact a brand via Twitter want a response within an hour. Failure to promptly answer questions or concerns sends a very negative missive to them.
Your brand’s message should be reflected in every interaction you have with users.
User interaction plays a very important role in social media marketing. Equip yourself with a strong customer service strategy to back up all your marketing efforts. Be sure everyone from your sales, PR, customer service, and other teams involved are on the same page, follow a consistent procedure, and use the same tone while interacting with your audience. Have a clear schedule that states each task to be completed along with the employee responsible for it.
Again, there are plenty of useful tools to help here – from Twitter’s own management suite TweetDeck to comprehensive task scheduling and project collaboration tools such as WorkZone or Brightpod, which allow you to manage interdepartmental communication and stay updated on the status and execution of integrated marketing campaigns.
Over To You
Bringing your brand’s message to life on Twitter requires a great deal of effort. There will most likely be a long and steep learning curve of trial and error because the Twittersphere is a constantly-evolving entity. With every tweet you send and the reactions that follow, the stature of your brand and the intent of your audience will become clearer and more well-defined.
Featured image: Public Domain Pictures (used under CC license)