The Face (or lack thereof) Behind the Tweets

Empty WorkstationI recently attended and presented at the Social Media Conference presented by the Connecticut Valley Chapter of PRSA .  Among the topics discussed at the conference was who should be the voice behind corporate tweets, the company itself or a company representative?

Several attendees expressed that hectic schedules often prohibit upper management from taking on the role of tweeting for their brand.  This led me to question if these should be the people tweeting or if a generic account representing the brand was adequate.

A Case for Human Interaction

Would you rather learn about a company from an insider/brand ambassador or from a source simply known as ‘the company?’

Starbucks has Brad as the voice of its tweets.  Brad is personable, informative and works to build relationships with customers via Twitter.  He has in excess of 450k followers.

Express has Lisa as the voice of its tweets.  At last check, Lisa had in excess of 10k followers.  She’s the company’s CMO, has a distinctive brand voice and engages directly with consumers.

As evidenced by their volumes of followers, Lisa and Brad epitomize the power of relationship building.  They offer consumers a level of comfort that wouldn’t be achieved from interacting with a corporate Twitter account that lacked a personal voice.

The question is, since Lisa and Brad are real people, what happens if they leave the company?  Does the brand have to start from scratch with a new Twitter account?  Would consumers transfer their loyalty to the new brand ambassador?  If so, at what rate?

These are good questions — if only I knew the answers!

A Case for the Brand Itself

Brands have one uniform voice.  They don’t have to recreate their Twitter handle when an employee leaves or risk one employee’s voice or personality turning off potential consumers.  But can a brand build relationships as effectively as the Lisas or Brads of the Twitterverse?

Are statements like ‘we launched a new service’ as compelling as a brand ambassador cheering for the new service?

Dove Chocolates has a Twitter handle that represents the brand itself as opposed to a brand ambassador.  At last check, the account had in excess of 2k followers, considerably less than Lisa or Brad.  The account still retweeted and @ replied followers, offered brand facts and company news, but the follower count indicates it was not as well received.

So, what determines the success of a corporate Twitter handle?  Is it solely the voice behind it?

From a management perspective, the brand itself is more practical to maintain – but is it a viable route?

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