Should You Be Yourself or Your Brand on Twitter?


Photo credit: natawiedee

… or should you be both, or neither?

Twitter is becoming more and more popular among businesses and marketers. People are using Twitter to connect with friends, meet new people, look for help and answers, promote products and services and so much more.

As more and more people and businesses join the fight for people’s attention on Twitter, the lines seem to be getting more blurry on whether you should be yourself or your company while you Tweet.

I hear this question a lot in meetings and at Social Media Breakfasts and here are some things to consider when deciding who to represent when you Tweet:

Let your goals, not your current place guide you. – I always think it is important to know what you want out of social media before you dive right in and start participating. Make a list of the things you want to accomplish in this space; brand recognition, use for customer service, make new relationships with people in your industry et al. Once you have a clear idea of what you are trying to accomplish, you can decide if this message is better carried out by you personally or your brand.

What type of content will you be producing? – When you sit down to figure out what you want to accomplish with social media, think specifically on the types of content you will be producing (the tweets). If this was an in-person conversation, would the content be better from a person or from a brand representative?

What are you going to be an expert on? – One of the best ways to succeed in social media is to establish yourself as an expert in something. Be the go-to guy or girl on something. Much like above, would this type of advice and content be better delivered from a person or brand representative? If you are establishing yourself as an expert versus establishing your business as the go-to place for these types of services, then perhaps you want a personal tone.

Think about what could go wrong first – I don’t mean to scare anyone but it is better to think about what could go wrong and have a plan for it before something actually does go wrong. Set company policies on what you want people who are representing your brand to adhere to. Determine what content is out of bounds and what content you want more of.

Be honest with yourself – Think long and hard about your 1, 3, 5 year plan. Are you going to be at this company for a long time?

Two scenarios to consider:

  • You spend your time tweeting as your brand or company and you leave that organization – The content you produce on behalf of your employer, belongs to your employer (most likely). You may have 4,000 followers and when you walk out that door you have to leave them all behind and start over.
  • You spend your time tweeting from a personal account making it be known where you work and you leave the company – Will you audience/followers want to make the transition with you? Will they want to follow you through starting a job search or new business? Did you sell yourself as a marketing expert and then take a job in accounting?

Can you be both personal and professional on one account? – I have a few stories to tell about people who tried to both represent their brand and their personal life on one account and it all went up in smoke in minutes. Your personal life could bring down your organization. Even if you work for yourself, carefully consider what content you are going to produce and stick to the specific content.

Being personal doesn’t automatically equal business – I recently overheard a conversation between two people who are heavy Twitter users. One brands herself as her business and the other as himself. She told him he wasn’t very clear about what he did for work or that he was looking for business. He was surprised. ‘Well isn’t that how this all works? You get to know me and then you are curious what I do for work and I get business?’ Well… no. Yes being likable and sharing information about your town, children, activities is a good way to get some followers but if you aren’t staying on message you could just be clouding the water.

“The trick of being in a personal brand is that there’s a big difference between being known, being known for something, and also being able to turn that into business.”

Chris Brogan – When YOU Are the Brand

What we do

I am not saying what we do here at Hall is ALWAYS the best scenario (although I usually like it) but I did want to share with you what we do here and how it has worked for us. We have been using Twitter for a few years and it took some trial and error but I really like how we are sharing content on Twitter. It is effective and a bit more organized.

Our company account is maintained by one person. We use it to announce new blog posts, webinars, share useful links we find online and answer any questions people may have for us. Yes, it is used more for sharing our news, like a broadcast tool.

If people are looking for a more personal connection with Hall on Twitter we have a large number on our staff who tweet regularly. Each employee who is going to tweet about our business or establish themselves as an expert in our field, has a long conversation with the management team about what is and what is not acceptable, about the responsibility going along with tweeting for our company and we define a niche they are comfortable tweeting about.

As a group we often Retweet each others content, not to broadcast but because we genuinely appreciate the content our co-workers are putting out.

Following Hall on Twitter

If you want to follow Hall on Twitter for news, updates, useful links, new blog posts and webinars: @Hall_Web

If you want to follow Amanda on Twitter for all things social media, blogging, Maine living, Social Media Breakfast Maine, trying to live a healthy lifestyle and for things I find funny: @amanda_pants

If you want to follow Kyle on Twitter for tips on web design, random quips from a Massachusetts native trying to live in Maine, Social Media Breakfast Maine: @kyyuulle

If you want to follow Kasi for all things SEO related, some cute dog pictures, random dance party inspiration: @kasi_marie

If you want to follow Alayna for all things CMS related, WordPress, Drupal, content marketing and upcoming events and webinars: @CMS_Girl

If you want to follow Jenika for all things web marketing, channel marketing, tips, and random things that make her laugh: @Jenika29

I hope you find this post helpful when trying to decide who you should be portraying when you tweet. There is no exact science at this point. Please feel free to share with me things that have worked for you and your business as well. Our Hall example is just one of many options. I learn best by seeing what other people are doing so I wanted to share that with you.