Short of the official Twitter rules and usage guidelines left and right, it is the choice of each business to either emulate best practice or test how to write and respond to 140 character updates on their own.
The following is a case study of four companies and a look at how they engage with their customers and coworkers to brand themselves on Twitter.
Case Study 1: Walmart
FYI: All screenshots above and below may be clicked to zoom.
Kelly works in the company’s media relations department and Kevin is the senior manager in corporate communications. Both are employed out of the Walmart headquarters in Arkansas.
There is no primary @Walmart account at this time.
While the company shares its list of numerous Twitter feeds, Kelly and Kevin are the only official associates on the list. You can see their following, follower, and listed metrics are on the relatively small side; and so most of their tweets, when not responding to customer queries, involve retweeting the company’s other broadcasting feeds.
I wish there were more Walmart employees sharing their names and faces on Twitter, but I’m glad to see Kelly and Kevin engaging with us here. I also like the naming convention, for WalmartKelly gives an entirely different branding and friendly impression than WalmartMedia or KellySmith.
Suppose you didn’t know the company tweeted. What would their website say?
Have a look yourself by visiting walmart.com. If you click the twitter icon at the bottom of the page, you’ll see a reduced list of feeds (Kelly’s missing, for instance) than what you see at walmartstores.com, which has a worse branded twitter link, buried in the middle of the right column. Click between the two links and see what I mean.
Case Study 2: Comcast
To early adopters of Twitter (aka anyone who’s tweeted to any extent for more than 12 months), the real voice of Comcast is senior director of customer service Frank Eliason, evident from his top right corner metrics in comparison to every screenshot so far:
The way customer service works for Comcast on Twitter, is if someone tweets Frank (whether or not they know it’s Frank), either he replies first or someone on his team like @ComcastMelissa, @ComcastBonnie, @ComcastGeorge, or @ComcastBill (among others) tweet back on Frank’s, aka the department’s, behalf. Depending on the shift in the day depends who replies first.
If Frank or his team can’t help you, they direct you to send an email to a master account and you personally receive a phone call within 24 hours, as I’ve shared previously about saving money.
As for the comcast.com website, good luck finding a Twitter link or icon. It’s not there.
Case Study 3: Los Angeles Times
With the @LATimes flagship, the newspaper maintains a list of every account holder, from reporters and editors to columns and sections. Some broadcast, some reply to queries. It’s noteworthy that many section reporters and feeds tweet infrequently.
I wish every LA Times tweeter could use the same naming format as Walmart and Comcast, but as it is accounts range from @latimescaramiad and @latimesneuman (who is inactive since September) to @wjhenn and @davidcolker, despite all being reporters and editors.
The newspaper’s website is in the same boat as walmartstores; there’s a buried twitter link in the middle of a chunk of links at the bottom of latimes.com.
Case Study 4: Whole Foods
Its corporate mission values customers, without whom there would be no business; and the company goes out of its way to create Twitter accounts for every region and every store. That’s right; there’s a feed with comparable broadcasts and replies for every Whole Foods store in the country. You can see their continually-updated list here.
Note how the blog includes bylines for each author, for the primary Twitter account @WholeFoods includes zero bylines. I have no way of knowing who is tweeting, whether a broadcast, reply, or retweet. I’d like to know this and I shared this sentiment 12 months ago when commenting about tweets and brands.
About halfway down the comment section last year is a bit by Kris Colvin, referring to a dialogue I had with corporate art director Marla Erwin (the red markup is by Kris):
I applaud Whole Foods for displaying a Twitter link in the very top of its wholefoodsmarket.com homepage.
If only Walmart, Comcast, and the LA Times could follow suit on their websites.
On the flipside, I wish Whole Foods and the LA Times could indicate in the Twitter bio field who does the tweeting, as Comcast does.
And the Twitter users themselves? You’ve met @WalmartKelly and @ComcastGeorge and @LATimesCaraMiad; notice how Whole Foods’ @MarlaErwin sticks out differently — which is not to suggest she’s tweeting wrong, just differently.
Anything else stick out to you in the above examples?
If you’re part of a larger tweeting company, anything look familiar?