In recent years there has been a distinct shift in how many companies use Twitter to build their brand. The focus is no longer on just creating a faceless corporate account that tweets about what’s happening in the business and industry. Instead, it is becoming popular for companies to build their brand by focusing on promoting some of the different people (like a flamboyant CEO) within the organisation.
This technique has worked well for the likes of local star Gian Visser (@gianvisser) of Afrihost, Michael Arrington (@arrington) of TechCrunch, Guy Kawasaki (@guykawasaki) of AllTop and of course, our very own Fred Roed (@Fred_Roed), CEO of World Wide Creative.
But why has this change taken place?
People are beginning to pay less attention to what brands have to say on Twitter. This is thanks to the vast number of companies whose tweets lack authenticity, transparency, genuine concern and interest in what the public is saying. So, instead of following a brand, people are following personalities associated with a company – personalities who have a vested interest in listening to what those around them have to say. Essentially, we are looking to use Twitter to create direct 2-way communication channels between ourselves and the brands that we are interested in.
When does this approach work best?
People need a reason to follow your CEO – they have to have something interesting to say. Iconic leaders who have real life experience and insights work best. Their writing style needs to be real so as to bring out their personality and passion clearly. But, the most important trait of a successful personality is that they need to actively engage with their client base. The community need to know that they’re being listened to and that their suggestions might be implemented.
However, it’s no good just talking shop the whole time – giving your followers some insight into the rest of your life helps build authenticity. Nobody wants to see scheduled tweets or tweets that look like they have been written by a PR agency.
When does it all go wrong?
People following a CEO or another personality because they have an affinity towards the brand they represent, will be expecting a certain level of professionalism in their tweets. What they say will be interpreted as being the view of the organisation as a whole. If the chosen personality doesn’t have a good understanding of Twitter etiquette or they’re just plain rude, it is possible that they can land up offending and alienating potential customers. It is also very important that the personality is capable of not taking criticism towards the company personally – they have to be service orientated and they cannot react emotionally when engaging with their followers.
So, should you get your CEO to tweet for your brand?
As long as your CEO is interesting, insightful and polite then it is a great opportunity to build your brand. But it doesn’t need to be used in isolation – I think the best solution is to find the middle ground where you have both a company twitter account and a couple of personal accounts of key employees. Getting the different accounts to interact with each other is a great way of building the number of followers around both. If it’s done successfully, this can become a powerful tool to give ordinary customers unprecedented access to your organisation and its leaders which in turn will help build a high level of brand loyalty.