One voice or many... the twitter conundrum for brands

Two well-known brands – drinks company Innocent and online clothing retailer – have totally different approaches to their employees’ using social media under their brand name. These examples were taken from the Media 140 event in London about brands.

Asos eCommerce director James Hart actually went round asking staff that he saw on twitter to add the brand name to their username, and use it to tell people what they’re doing at work as well as just talking to their friends.

“We have 55 people on Twitter. I trust them and I see what they say because I follow them. We like to be where our customers are, and we adapt to the environment. I’m not really sure what to do with the official account. People search for Asos so we need something, but we don’t really push products at them. I just want to talk to and learn from them.”

By comparison, Ted Hunt, digital comms manager at Innocent, just has the one official account. Innocent isn’t strict over internet communication – it doesn’t monitor its blog comments, aside from comments with swearing in them. Negative comments stay up, and the company encourages interaction. But Ted says it’s simply easier to control one Twitter account than 55.

“We keep it as a single Innocent drinks account. Otherwise it fragments too much and it’s hard to control the message. It’s easier to get a message out in one go. But we don’t moderate strictly. In two years we’ve removed six comments. Negative comments stay up. We take down swearing as children come to the website.”

It seems it’s a horses for courses approach, some brands already have a strong voice and identity and so having lots of different voices twittering under the brand could harm it (Innocent would be a good example of this), while those trying to find a voice and personality may find several voices works best.

Controlling the message is a social media no no though and consumers can smell an over-corporatised twitter feed a mile off… enter and engage in conversations in an open and honest way. That’s the message, ain’t it?