Mashable says brands don’t belong on Twitter

Mashable sparked an interesting debate on Friday when Dr Mark Drapeau made the bold statement that Twitter should ban brands from the site.  In the post “Do Brands Belong on Twitter”, Drapeau stated that:

Thinking about what might be best for people, in my opinion Twitter should not only not charge brands for membership, but also ban them altogether. Not unlike Facebook and other sites, every account would represent a person using a real name, location, and picture.

Drapeau explains his stance by arguing that a brand must have a person behind it:

Twitter is about people sharing information with other people. So how do one-dimensional organizational brands fit into this mix? When you really think about it, they don’t. As an analogy, when you call customer service, a human answers the phone (eventually) and tells you their name – and you’re not talking to “Sprint” or “Dell” but rather “Steve” or “Danny.”

Now while I completely disagree with that statement that Twitter should “ban brands altogether”, I do see the rationale that Twitter is about sharing information with other people.  I actually think the brands doing Social Media right are the ones that base their strategy off of this simple point.  If you just throw up your brand logo on Twitter (or any Social Media platform) and expect to have a conversation with consumers, you are doing it all wrong.  You are just trying to act the easy way out with one-way communication.

Brands belong in Social Media, but you need to humanize the brand

On the same day that Mashable said brands should be banned, the folks at iMedia highlighted “How to be a Twitter All-Star.”  Focused on brands like Flying Dog Brewery, Zappos and Southwest Airlines, the article proves the point that brands can enjoy great success on Twitter or any other Social Media platform.  But doing so requires them to humanize the brand by putting a person behind the logo.  And requires them to work with a different set of rules.

Christi Day, the Social Media face for Southwest Airlines, explained their approach as follows:

“Twitter empowers us to be authentic.  Getting real means being empowered, engaged and prepared. It is necessary to have the person in the Twitter role equipped to handle news management, customer communications, to be able to write compelling tweets and be willing to be engaged at all times.”

Let’s face it, this isn’t the type of marketing approach that most Brand Managers are use to.  But Twitter is just the latest technology to force us to think about change in our jobs.  If you haven’t sat down and thought about the impact of Social Media on your brand (and your career), maybe it is time you did.

NOTE:  Michael Brito from Intel joined in on the discussion with a great post on why brands do belong on Twitter.

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  1. says

    I think there is a place for brands on twitter. I follow digsby, twittad and a few others. I do this because i like the ease with which I can get information from the brands. I don’t want to hear from “John” from DIgsby. I don’t actually care about that person, I am specifically looking for product/brand info.

    This is twitter, part of the joy of it is that there are no rules. Let people use it as they wish..

  2. says

    I agree with Andrea. I think if the company can share information about its products or services without flooding, it can absolutely be beneficial to both the consumer and the company I think SouthWest Airlines is a great example of a company that has taken full and well advantage of Twitter.

  3. says

    They should do a better job next time and let you write the article. Brands definitely belong on Twitter because you can put a face on a brand. Conversations can lead to business and vice versa. Everyone can win if the cards are played correctly. However banning brands is the most absurd thing in the world. Think of what Chris Brogan and Scoble being banned on Twitter, because they are their own brands.

    Now humanizing a brand is a different story, but not everything can be humanized in the digital world.

    • says

      Appreciate the kind words! You make a great distinction between putting a face on a brand and humanizing a brand. I really think the danger of marketers “ruining a good thing” like Twitter will be if too many of us try to humanize brands through social media tools. As my buddy Alan Wolk so often says, “Your Brand is NOT my friend” so we should remember that people want to know their fellow humans behind the brand…but they dont want to be friends with the brand itself.

  4. says

    I'm probably one of the 'late adopters' of social media (poor me… late learner might be more appropriate) and arrived at this discussion thread somewhat fortuitously (that is, I just followed some links on Google). Right now I'm trying to get up to speed with how brands can use (and do use or abuse) social media, so the Twitter debate is interesting. Can anyone recommend a website (in addition to 'Hard Knox Life' of course! )and some useful, informative books (packed with relevant information – no grunge please) which I would give me a decent launch pad to understand brands + social media, as well as some insight into the array of social media tools that are 'out there'? I really need a 101 crash course in order to follow discussions like this one. Right now it feels like the party's just getting started but I'm still at home figuring out how to get there!


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