Twitter is one of the most effective ways to speak directly to consumers, but it can go wrong.
Spectacularly wrong in some cases. Here are a few things to avoid when thinking about a Twitter campaign:
Jumping on the bandwagon
When a major event happens, it can be easy to go with the crowd and tenuously link your brand to anything that is making the news or trending. A supportive message is one thing, but followers can quickly turn on companies trying to shamelessly flog their products. Look at this tweet from Charmin, the toilet paper brand:
Your target audience sees right through this kind of thing, and will only be detrimental to your brand image, so refrain at all costs.
Using tragedies to promote
Arguably the worst thing a brand can do is try and gain coverage through a tragic news story. Many companies have done this in the past, leading to backlashes from hundreds, if not thousands of followers. During Hurricane Sandy, Urban Outfitters tweeted the following:
Even worse was this food and cooking website, using the Boston Marathon bombings to promote various recipes:
Both companies received massive, and well deserved, criticism following these tweets. Never try this shock marketing technique. It has rarely been seen to end well for brands that try it, at best only resulting in the loss of followers.
Remember, ‘Google before you tweet’ is the new ‘think before you speak’
The power of the internet lies in the vast information easily accessible to anyone at just a few clicks. This has not stopped people from finding dodgy information and tweeting it before double checking it’s correct. Richard Hawkes, the CEO of charity SCOPE shared information that proved to be completely false. So if you are going to include a shocking fact to grab attention, make sure it’s true before you hit that tweet button!
Watch your hashtags!
When creating a #hashtag, it’s worth noting that some words may not read the way you intend. The most famous example of this was when poor Susan Boyle released her album along with the hashtag #susanalbumparty. Most people read this completely wrong, spawning many retweets with mock-up invitations to said party. It always pays to have someone else check just in case:
What to do if it all goes wrong
Waitrose used the hashtag #waitrosereasons to get people to tell them why people choose to shop there. While some responses were positive and constructive, such as “Because wine is arranged on the shelves by region rather than colour”, many aimed to tear apart the image of Waitrose and poke fun at the middle-class image the brand retains.
The responses were in their thousands, but credit where credit’s due, Waitrose responded superbly, thanking everyone involved, even those hijacking the hashtag.
This is the best way to respond. Avoid direct conflict with individuals and calling them out, as it will look petty. Instead, take a light-hearted look at responses, even the negative ones. Many companies can learn from these responses.
Avoiding these mistakes, and learning from your own, will be key in forming a great twitter presence and following.