Dan Barash Online


Social-Media Messaging: There’s No Griping on Twitter
June 15, 2009, 8:50 pm
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Last night I was scanning Twitter updates, and a late-evening post from a restaurant I’m following caught my eye. It read simply, “oh, whatever.”

That kind of cryptic, seemingly cranky update isn’t exactly outside the norm on individuals’ profile pages on sites such as Facebook and MySpace, which originally sat more on the “social” side of the social-networking spectrum. But Twitter seems to have evolved into sort of a happy medium between Facebook/MySpace and LinkedIn, which has a decidedly more professional tone. Twitter users—especially those whose bio on the site associates them with a particular brand or employer—tend to share some personality without divulging too much personal information or emotion. 

According to Web analytics company Compete, Twitter's audience grew 40% from March to April.  
   

And so the dismissive comment from the Twitterer acting as the voice of the restaurant was somehow surprising. Something about it seemed to violate the old principle of “never let ‘em see you sweat.”

Crafting and managing online personae when you’re associated with—if not speaking for—a brand is a continual process, and those of us in that position are still in relatively new territory. (Facebook, after all, is only five years old. And Twitter was started in 2006.) But in the one- or two-sentence bulletins we post for the social-networking world to see, we’re really all trying to do the same thing: strike a balance of self-promotion, industry promotion and agenda-less conversation with people who share our interests.

When we miss the mark, fickle fans and followers tune out. And we miss out on social-networking sites’ opportunity to drive brand loyalty by lending an authentic voice to a brand and making the people who work for it seem like regular, approachable people.

 

There are restaurants across the country and here in the Chicago area that are on my must-try list because I feel like the people behind it—whom I’ve learned more about via Twitter—are people I’d want to sit down and have dinner with. What makes them so appealing? They talk about how excited they are about farmers-market finds or upcoming events at their restaurant(s). They praise their staff. They don’t complain.


There’s no time to be off your game when you attach yourself to a brand online. Diminishing the fact that social-media musings reach not just those who know you well but also those with whom you have a fledgling relationship and those who heard of your brand yesterday is a risky move, as one New York marketing consultant infamously found out in January when he turned to Twitter to take a jab at the city where he was about to give a presentation.

 

Now that everyone’s in the branding business, then, wouldn’t it make sense to strive to put one’s best, most personable face forward, always?
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