TopRank Marketing Editor

5 Twitter Tips for Staying Authentic and Transparent

Twitter Tips for Staying Transparent Any marketer who’s successfully made the move to social media will tell you the rules of traditional marketing have to be reexamined. That’s particularly true with Twitter, where brands have just 140 characters to inform, evoke emotion and inspire action. One of the most basic and critical rules for brands on Twitter? Be authentic and transparent in all you do.

Check out these 5 Twitter tips for staying authentic and transparent:

1. Reveal who’s behind the Tweets. It doesn’t necessarily matter who it is—the CEO, the social media manager or a marketing intern. It just matters that the person is in fact a person. Putting a face and name behind your Tweets through a photo and brief bio can help followers relate to and connect with your brand.

Kodak is an excellent example of a company that’s put a face to the brand on Twitter. The company’s official Tweeter, chief blogger and social media manager Jennifer Cisney (@kodakcb), leaves no guesses as to who she is and what she does. Her Tweets strike a healthy balance between letting her personality shine through and offering too much irrelevant information (i.e., “Sitting on my couch watching Desperate Housewives and eating popcorn.”)

2. Show some personality. It doesn’t have to be all business all the time. Have some fun with your Tweets by telling humorous stories or poking a little fun at yourself every now and then.

Part of what makes Ford Motor Co. head of social media and Tweeterati Scott Monty (@scottmonty) so successful and popular is his ability to make followers feel like he’s an old college buddy or family friend. His bio tells his followers he’s “a generally nice guy.” But his genuine Tweets—a combination of marketing insight, Ford and auto news, and his own personal anecdotes—lets them know that’s the case. (Scott Monty video interview here)

3. Admit when you’re wrong. With the explosion of social networks over the past few years, bad decisions and unfortunate snafus are exposed sooner rather than later. So it’s important for brands to fess up first and show their willingness to rectify the situation. With that said, why not turn a negative situation into a positive one?

After you’ve admitted to a mistake, strike up some friendly competition by asking your followers to submit their own “biggest oops moment.” Choose—or better yet allow followers to vote on—the best story. Offer some sort of an incentive to the winner, whether it’s a coupon, a free product or a gift certificate.

4. Get to know your followers. Let’s face it: Your followers—and potential customers—have more on their minds than just your brand. Ask your followers questions about themselves, gain a sense of who they are and customize your responses to them based on their personal details.

In the end, not only will you be viewed as an authentic and trusted brand on Twitter, you’ll also obtain valuable information on customer demographics.

5. Don’t get carried away by your accomplishments. With trial-and-error, know-how and a little luck, you’re likely to find much success in your social media and Twitter efforts. But don’t let it go to your head. Keep in mind that it’s your followers who gave you that success.

You’d be hard pressed to find a Twitterati that’s been more successful at using Twitter for customer service than Frank Eliason (@comcastcares) from Comcast. But what keeps them relevant and useful for followers over the long term is their ability to remain genuine and humble amidst widespread popularity. (Frank Eliason interview here)

While there are any number of ways to fail while trying to effectively market on Twitter, social media usage by companies has matured enough for a growing number of good examples to emerge. Being aware of what’s working for others can be priceless insight for how to develop your own genuine communications and brand experience with customers on the social web.

What are some brands that have done a good job at staying authentic and transparent on Twitter? What other Twitter tips do you have for remaining authentic and transparent?

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  1. Avatar ParthenonPromotions says

    I find #1 to be CRITICAL! Most casual followers really dislike a stream of product links. Blog links are a little better if most of your audience is likely to be interested. Regardless, adding a few personal tweets here and there can do wonders for building a relationship with your followers.

  2. “Show Your Personality” I think is the best way to go about on Twitter. People on Twitter are still humans after all even though they just tell you about the most insignificant details.

  3. Avatar Oscar Del Santo says

    Great post, truly useful and ensuring not only that we remain authentic and transparent but also that we thrive on Twitter!

  4. #1 and #2 are definitely important. Show your actually human, and don't come across spammy by posting Tweets that only promote your product.

  5. Avatar strategic_growth_advisors says

    Hi, Michelle. This is one informative post all social media enthusiasts and business players who have ventured into social media territory will find really useful. In my own point of view, item number 1 takes the cake. As long as you're talking to a person and not just a mere brand, your tweets are much sincere, effective and successful. Keep those articles coming!

  6. Thanks Michelle, this really needs to go around. There is nothing more annoying then having your page ONLY full of someones links. The article was really helpful. It's great to know that you can really let yourself shine as well as your products.

  7. Give your tweets a face and a name – imo the most important point. Thanx for your blog! /nic

  8. I really like this post but i do have a question. For companies that have a lot of internal stakeholders who may react negatively to the brand having a personality online, what should you do? How to deal with that?

  9. Good question Vadim. I guess I'd start by asking them what they're afraid of, hiding from?

  10. Find the #2 and #3 helpful on Twitter. Twitter users are about to communicate with each other as persons.

  11. One of my favorites on Twitter is @homedepot. Sarah (PR For HomeDepot) answers questions and is responsive to anyone who has a question about the company or products.

  12. Thanks for that feedback Sofia. It really plays to the “tweets” option in the voting list. Quality of content and behaviors are great reasons to follow someone on Twitter.

  13. Good article and thanks for the links to your other references, very helpful. This is a good straight-forward article which explains to business owners a number of things which they are are almost always asking. I often get asked if they can outsource the tweets and I'm relunctant to say yes because they can't really accomplish the intent of your article if it is not them. I know many companies offer this service, but in my experience it is obvious when you encounter these companies tweeting on behalf of their clients as their “voice” wrong.

    What is your opinion of outsourcing tweeting?

    Walter Adamson
    Social Media Academy, Australia

  14. Well said. It's a shame that up to this day there are some big corporate players who think twitter is the preserve of college upstarts. Everyone can benefit from twitter

  15. Avatar Eric Melchor says

    Michelle, good post. On my way to adjust my Twitter profile now..


  16. This is a Great article. I couldn’t agree more! There’s so much misinformation out there that people don’t really know what is and is not. It’s refreshing to see people that know what they’re talking about. You have an Informed commentary seems to be a rare commodity these days. Keep it coming.

  17. Avatar tessacarroll says

    Thank you for the insight, Michelle. So many brands think that Twitter is just another place to talk about how great they are, but what they don't realize is that Twitter is the place where they need to be the most genuine.

    Twitter allows us to to show our true colors in 140 characters or less. Brands can use it to connect with their customers, handle adverse situations, and share ideas. Every brand considering taking to Twitter should take 5 minutes to read this post, by following your advice they're sure to benefit.

    Tessa Carroll
    VBP OutSourcing

  18. Avatar livemercialsarah says

    Great post! I agree 100% with you on making sure your tweets and profile are authentic and humanized. There is nothing worse than reading updates that appear to have been written by a robot with no face:) I especially like your advice on getting to know your followers. What is the point of gaining followers, if you're not fostering those relationships/leads on a constant basis?

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  20. These are some really good points which I will definitely keep in mind when I am Twittering in the future.

  21. These are some really good points which I will definitely keep in mind when I am Twittering in the future.