Tea & Twitter: The Importance of Brand Personality

On Monday a hilarious conversation unfolded on Twitter. What differentiates this from other convos, however, is that the key participants were official Brand twitter handles. The conversation unfolded between @tescomobile and another user. It’s pretty weird but that’s actually keeping with their image as a customer service account full of witty banter.

Here’s a recent exchange (the conversation starts at the bottom):

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This past Monday their banter ignited a full on British tea party joined by Yorkshire Tea, Jaffa Cakes, Walkers Crisps, Phileas Fogg and others.

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Conversation ranged from what they’d be bringing to this party to whether Jaffa Cakes were really cakes or biscuits.

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The conversation got picked up by Buzzfeed under the catchy title: “This Is The Best Twitter Conversation You Will Read Today” and, at the time of this blog post has been shared on Facebook 31K times and Tweeted 15.5K times. The Buzzfeed article ends with “Well done Social Media Managers” and a  pretty awesome gif (it isn’t often we get such a great shout-out!).

Several articles have been written about this conversation and no doubt other brands will try to copy the banter to varying levels of success just like the Oreo tweet generated a wave of funny and not-so-funny realtime campaigns. (I think we can all agree that #royalbaby was a bit fat fail) But this got me thinking about brand personas in general on twitter. Like it or not, every brand has one. Wonder why you don’t get RTs and can’t get followers? Well it’s probably because you have a really dull personality.

But it’s a mistake to think that the only personality option is to banter and be humorous. Humor is tricky- you always need to think about your audience and be aware of which lines you cannot in any circumstances cross. But being paralyzed and simply broadcasting snippets of your most recent press releases is a big yawn. So how do you figure out what works for you?

I always advocate thinking about strategy like this in terms of offline actions. So let’s imagine what happens when you go to that annual work Christmas party. I like the analogy because it’s a time when we’re all hyper conscious about our personalities and that’s a good analogue to tweeting on behalf of a Brand- you always want to make sure you think through what you’re saying before you say it. Also, taking the analogy a step further, the Christmas party is a time when it’s easy to get giddy (with help from the spiced mead) and say things that you’ll regret the moment you wake up the next morning. Success at the office Christmas party comes from being likable for who you are and not forgetting who you are in the height of the moment. Remember-being dull is usually just as bad as being over the top.

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So who do you want to be?

We live our lives making rapid assumptions about each other. One Twitter a brand is personified- which is one reason for crisis social strategy- whatever is said on Twitter is seen as the voice of the company. The Twitter account rivals a company’s spokesperson in importance so it’s essential to make sure that you’re communicating exactly what you want to communicate- and this goes beyond the text of the tweets. One thing is for certain- like it or not, you already have a personality on Twitter- so why not make it one of your choosing? A good rule of thumb is to ask yourself- “would I want to follow me?” If the answer is no then you have a problem and it’s time to go back to the drawing board.

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