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Ellen, Twitter, brands

I am not sure yet about Twitter. Oh yes I have an account and I tweet infrequently, but follow many folks.

The people I follow, falls into 4 categories.

  1. People who may have something to say that would be of professional interest to me. eg Seth Godin, Guy Kawasaki
  2. People who follow me. Apparently the rule is you follow those who follow you. I have since wisened up of course.
  3. Family esp the in-laws:  Not really a choice, especially if they are also in bucket 2 above.
  4. And finally those who can entertain. Here I club the people who tweet jokes. I recommend funnyjoker and funnyoneliners whole heartedly.

As part of the last category I decided to follow Ellen deGeneres. Yes the funny lady of TV.

Now I don’t know about you, but when I think of Ellen I think hilarious, clean humour, sarcastic, whip lash funny. Following someone like that would be like watching her show, except in text.

But it was not.

For the few weeks I did follow her, all she tweeted about was her show, her guests, her appearances, the events she went to etc.

I waited for this to change and get to the funnies. It didn’t.

I stopped following her.

Thinking about this recently I see a few lessons for brands who want to get into this space.

1. Understand what the brand is about?: People follow others on Twitter for any number of reasons. I am sure there are people who want to know Ellen’s program schedule and who is going to be on the show next. And then there are people like me, who want to experience the funny Ellen. Brands have many facets. Understanding that is key to ensuring a consistent Twitter, or any branded, experience. People may follow a travel operator to know about great travel deals. There may also be those who follow to get travel ideas. How do you cater to both without alienating either. Or do you choose? It comes down to understanding the brand essence and then using that to define the Twitter profile.

2. Getting followers: Once you have defined the brand the next step is getting followers. In many ways getting followers is easy. Remember Ashton Kutcher who said he could get 1Mn followers faster than CNN? Getting the right followers is the challenge. As my Ellen experience shows, big brands with interesting stories would find it relatively easier to get followers. But given how easy it is to also unfollow, the importance of getting the right followers cannot be understated. Rather be relevant to small set of people, than irrelevant to everyone. This is akin to the opt-in programs run in the email world. Giving freebies to get opt-in gets a ton of people signing up. But they also drop off rather quickly because they are not interested in the following messages. (Please see separate post here on this subject a few months ago)

3. Activate the followers: Because of the ease of following someone, it is rather easy to get many followers. Conversely the followers are also following many others. It is thus easy to get lost in the hundreds of tweets the person receives. It is therefore important to, at some frequency, send out activation tweets to check the participation of followers. This could be link to a site or a promotion or some such activation idea to make the brand active to the followers. Ellen does this through her messages about her shows.

4. Metrics: Before you start the tweeting program, set some metrics so that you know how you are doing. Ashton’s metric was 1 mn followers. Ellen’s probably is program viewership. Marriott’s could be hotel room sales. etc.Your brand’s could be different. Should be different based on why you started this in the first place.

The 4 points above need to be seamless.

Defining the brand is intimately connected to the followers, activating them and then measuring the performance.

It is a sort of virtuous circle as well as interconnected dots. What one learns in the metrics could impact what the brand stands for as it could impact the nature of follower or the activation program. etc.

This post is by no means meant to be a ‘How to set up a tweet program’, rather sharing of my experience and learnings thereof from following Ellen deGeneres.

Do you have similar experiences?

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