More brands are launching Twitter accounts every day, but not all of those brands are using Twitter right. In fact, it’s often more difficult for national brands to leverage Twitter than it is for smaller organizations.
To make it easier to learn from the best, here are five examples of national brands using Twitter right in a variety of interesting ways. See what aspects of these Twitter strategies you can adapt for your own business, whether you’re running a local shop or a national chain.
1. Whole Foods
Whole Foods is one of the best examples of a national brand using diverse Twitter accounts to connect with its target audience. The Whole Foods website lists over 300 topical, regional, and local store Twitter accounts and the list keeps on growing!
Whether you want to connect with the Twitter accounts for Whole Foods’ recipes (@WholeRecipes), cheese (@WFMCheese), wine (@WFMWineGuys), or your local Whole Foods store account, there is a branded Whole Foods Twitter experience waiting for you. If your local Whole Foods store doesn’t have a Twitter account yet, you can suggest that one be created.
The main Whole Foods Twitter timeline (@WholeFoods) is filled with useful information and conversations. Based on some tweets in the Whole Foods timeline, it’s obvious that the company monitors keywords related to its business and jumps into relevant conversations when opportunities arise.
Dell makes the list of national brands using Twitter right because of its effective use of Twitter for direct marketing. Instead of cluttering the company’s main timeline with promotional announcements, Dell created the @DellOutlet Twitter account, which reportedly brought in $1 million in sales less than two years after its launch.
Dell uses the @DellOutlet account to tweet deep discount messages and promotions. The bio on the page clearly indicates that there is a person behind the Twitter account, which makes it seem more human and less automated.
Dell offers a variety of other Twitter accounts for specific audiences, such as the primary @Dell account, Michael Dell’s Twitter account (@MichaelDell), and the @DellCares account for customer service. In total, Dell lists 34 Twitter accounts on its website — all targeted to specific audiences, topics, and languages.
No list of brands using Twitter right would be complete without mentioning Comcast — which pioneered the use of Twitter for customer service through its @ComcastCares account. Companies like Dell might not have developed their own separate customer service Twitter accounts had it not been for Comcast’s success in this space.
Comcast has created a Twitter list of Comcast Cares team members that people can reach out to directly on Twitter. Today, Comcast has a variety of Twitter accounts for specific audiences, but it all started with the @ComcastCares account.
Zappos provides an excellent example of how a company’s executives should engage customers on Twitter. Not only does Tony Hsieh’s @Zappos Twitter account humanize the brand, it also helps to demonstrate the brand’s promise of “making people happy.” Tony’s Twitter timeline isn’t updated as frequently as it once was, but scroll through it and you’ll undoubtedly get some ideas on how your executives can use Twitter more effectively to promote your brand.
Zappos employees are also encouraged to tweet, as long as they follow a very simple social media policy: “Be real and be honest.” Currently, Zappos lists nearly 500 employees on Twitter with their respective Twitter handles, tweets, and Twitpic pictures.
The @Starbucks Twitter account is filled with two-way conversations between the brand and customers. Some promotional and corporate announcement tweets are included, but they’re infrequent or meaningful enough that the audience accepts them without complaint.
What sets the Starbucks Twitter timeline apart from other national brands is its use of multimedia. Tweets with photos are common and add an entertaining visual element. Also, Starbucks monitors tweets that mention the brand name and responds to messages when it’s appropriate. For example, customer complaints are often responded to with an apology, along with the customer service email address, so Starbucks can (in their words) “make this right.”
Another interesting way that Starbucks uses Twitter is for crowdsourcing suggestions and ideas. Through the @MyStarbucksIdea account, anyone can suggest an idea for Starbucks. It’s a highly interactive timeline filled with great suggestions for the company, and a very cost effective form of brand building.
Susan Gunelius: Susan Gunelius is a 20-year marketing veteran and President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She has authored nine books about social media, content marketing, branding, copywriting, and blogging, and she is a marketing columnist for Forbes.com and Entrepreneur.com. Susan speaks about marketing, branding, and social media at events around the world and is often interviewed about marketing topics by television, online, print, and radio media organizations.