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“Bringing Texty Back” – Brand Personality on Twitter

“How do we use Twitter effectively?” is a question on the lips of many marketing managers and chief executives worldwide. Whilst many DO understand the importance of Twitter and the effect it can have on your brand, many businesses simply do not ‘get it’. Where is the value? Is it a lead generator? Is is a customer service platform? Who is going to read this? Is it a newsfeed? Twitter used effectively can be any of these things, but not everybody does it well. So it’s always refreshing to see brands using it to its full potential.

In the UK we have four major mobile phone networks; EE, O2, Vodafone and Three. Each of them use Twitter to enhance customer service and provide an accessible ‘face’ to the organisation. But when it comes to Twitter, one of the smaller mobile phone virtual network operators springs to mind; Tesco Mobile.

Tesco Mobile aggressively launched an advertising campaign a few months back attacking those that would mock the “Tesco Mobile” name. Their attitude is ’Who cares what the status bar says? We offer the best value tariffs’, and they now offer free 4G when it becomes available in your area. The Tesco Mobile Twitter feed is perhaps the most comical, sarcastic and satirical form of customer service you will find online. It’s a Twitter persona with serious attitude. But, it works, customers of Tesco Mobile love the sassiness with which they run their profile and react to both criticism, and positive encouragement.

So, in the afternoon on Friday February 14th 2014, we were treated to another one of the brand conversations that will inevitably end up on Buzzfeed and Mashable. Sony, alongside Phones4U, Carphone Warehouse, EE and HTC teamed up in what could be described as the funniest and pun-iest interaction between competitors that Twitter has ever played host to.

Sony started by sending Phones4U a little Valentines poem, Carphone Warehouse subsequently got jealous and from that moment on it spiralled into utter hilarity. Take a read below at the conversation, and continue reading to find out why this is a perfect example of how to use Twitter effectively.

We’ve written you a poem to show the love: Roses are Red, Violets are Blue, Want to a new phone? Go to @Phones4U #ShakespearesLostWorks — Sony Xperia GB (@sonyxperiagb) February 14, 2014

@sonyxperiagb Guys! Thought we were destined to be together…. #heartbroken — Carphone Warehouse (@CPWTweets) February 14, 2014

@CPWTweets felt bad we didn’t show you the love, so here’s your poem Roses are red Violets are blue We love so many But none more than you — Sony Xperia GB (@sonyxperiagb) February 14, 2014

@sonyxperiagb#Plaaaayer. Ha! Our heart is red, @CPWTweets is blue. Which is your favourite, out of the two? 😉 — Phones 4u (@Phones4u) February 14, 2014

@Phones4u @CPWTweets Ménage à trois? #YourCall — Sony Xperia GB (@sonyxperiagb) February 14, 2014

@sonyxperiagb @Phones4u Well, we do love a good call… — Carphone Warehouse (@CPWTweets) February 14, 2014

@CPWTweets @sonyxperiagb Hmm 3’s an odd number. Last space in the bed, no need to feel blue, there’s room for one more, @ee we choose you 😀 — Phones 4u (@Phones4u) February 14, 2014

@Phones4u @CPWTweets @EE let’s have a 4G! — Sony Xperia GB (@sonyxperiagb) February 14, 2014

@sonyxperiagb @CPWTweets @EE We feel a superfast connection building… — Phones 4u (@Phones4u) February 14, 2014

@Phones4u @sonyxperiagb @EE Our gigabites are going gaga. — Carphone Warehouse (@CPWTweets) February 14, 2014

@Phones4u @CPWTweets @sonyxperiagb I wanna text you up… ♪♫ — EE (@EE) February 14, 2014

@CPWTweets @Phones4u @sonyxperiagb Wow, this is absolutely filthy. Count us in. — EE (@EE) February 14, 2014

@EE @CPWTweets @sonyxperiagb Cos’ when we get that feeling, we need text-tual healing ♪♫… — Phones 4u (@Phones4u) February 14, 2014

@Phones4u @CPWTweets @sonyxperiagb Lets talk about text baby, lets talk about you and me… ♪♫ — EE (@EE) February 14, 2014

@CPWTweets @Phones4u @sonyxperiagb Text on the beach? Careful you dont get sand in your buttons though. — EE (@EE) February 14, 2014

@CPWTweets @sonyxperiagb @Phones4u @EE We are bringing text-y back. Them other phones don’t know how to act. — HTC UK (@HTC_UK) February 14, 2014

This wasn’t even the end of the conversation. But by this point you are probably thinking “this is just a bunch of big brands having a bit of fun” and yes, yes it is. Whilst they are not proactively trying to get you to buy their products they are doing something considerably more important than that – they are giving these faceless brands personality – brand humanization, it’s a thing! Every Twitter profile for a brand provides a voice, but many are monotonous “corporate safe” entities not willing to break too far from the safety of their self-serving tweets.

Does this little mobile phone company love-in get more people to buy from each of these companies? Perhaps indirectly, but this becomes more of a non-orchestrated brand building exercise rather than a campaign with the specific intent to attract new customers.

So, how is this an example of using Twitter effectively? When setting out on the microblogging platform both larger and smaller organisations are guilty of becoming too concerned about the potential fallout (What if we say something wrong? What if we get the tone of voice wrong?) that they fail to embrace the platform and the individuals that are making best use of it. Many will hire social media gurus or marketing agencies to run their feed – but internal policies and regulations will often state that public communications must use a professional/corporate tone of voice and fit within brand guidelines. Even within just 140 characters a personality can shine, and this example is a great use of doing exactly that.

The teams behind these Twitter feeds have been let loose – they have been given the control they require to have an interesting, wacky but most importantly on-topic conversation with some of the key competitors and partners in their industry. Yet in doing so they have retained the professional corporate image, but definitely one best suited for a Friday afternoon.

By letting their personality shine they not only made existing customers smile, but were given the opportunity to attract a whole new passive audience through the use of hashtags and each others networks of followers. This audience can now be targeted with specific campaigns to encourage a later conversion.

How to use Twitter effectively? Don’t be afraid to let your personality shine.

(For a few more examples of where this can work, have a look at Tesco Mobile (again) and their interaction with Jaffa Cakes- OR when Marvel and Disney had a geek-off

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