Does Twitter Build a Brand?

Many branding executives ask me about Twitter. Is it an important branding tool? Is it worth the effort to have a Twitter presence and monitor the discussion?

I’ve been a bit skeptical of Twitter for many years. It feels a bit promotional and fleeting. Does anyone really use it? Can it really help brands?

I now understand that it matters a lot. Twitter is a venue where people talk and communicate. Very often, they talk to brands and the brands reply, or at least they do when someone is paying attention.

Last weekend I went to Staples to buy some ink and paper. The checkout person explained that there was a good rebate on the paper so I really should go on-line and apply for it. So I did. But the rebate didn’t work.

Rather than give up, I thought I would test Twitter and Staples. So I sent Staples a tweet, saying, “@Staples Bought some paper yesterday and was told to use rebate on-line. But the website says it can no longer be used on-line. Any help?”

Staples replied in a few hours, “@TimothyCalkins Pease send us a DM with the item # or the order # that was purchased, so we can further research the rebate for you? ^JD”

I then tweeted back the information. Staples replied again. It turns out the offer number on the receipt was incorrect; Staples sent the correct one. With the new number I successfully filed for the rebate.

The overall result: I had an issue and asked Staples for help via Twitter. The company came through perfectly; the people at Staples were prompt and helpful and responsive. I now feel good about shopping at Staples and will travel a bit further to go there.

Brands that pay attention to Twitter can build relationships, loyalty and brand equity. I’m not certain tweeting random thoughts on Twitter does a lot to build a brand. I’m very confident that replying to customers is important and every brand should be paying attention and part of the discussion.

2 Responses to “Does Twitter Build a Brand?”

  1. Rob DeMento (@RobDeMento) Says:

    Customer engagement and service is certainly one of the most important reasons for big brands to participate in social media. That said, if you choose to leverage social media in this manner, you need to be committed in time and resources – it must be treated as its own unique and new channel. Too many times I’ve watched as companies try to take the plunge and within weeks (if not days or hours) find themselves drowning. There are some great software tools to help customers manage this sudden flood, but the first step is anticipating what the storm will bring.

    In addition, brands need to be consistent in their use of social media for service. There is nothing more disengaging as a customer than tweeting a legitimate concern and having it go unanswered while some seemingly less important issue gets addressed with another customer. @Comcast is great at being consistent (and this is not surprising – they are one of the pioneers in social media customer service/brand engagement). @United is an example of a brand that is completely inconsistent.

    • Tim Calkins Says:

      Rob—Excellent point. It takes money and becomes an on-going expense. If you are going to engage with your customers on social media you have to do it well.

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