Making a #Hashtag Out of Using Twitter

Before we go any further, I’d like to apologise for such a terrible pun…

Okay, now I’ve got that off my chest, we can start again. Twitter is a powerful tool for business, and using it wisely is really important. It could be quite easy to say the wrong thing and have a Frankie Boyle sized storm heading your way. Then again, you could go the other way and bore the living daylights out of your followers.

Sales tweet after sales tweet isn’t going to build a following. If anything, it’s going to lose you followers. Think about when you are approached by a sales person in a store: If they walked up to you and said ‘Buy this’, you’re response would likely be: ‘No’, ‘why should I?’ or something a little more colourful.

But if a sales person approaches you in a friendly, more personal way, maybe tells a joke or two, you will be far more likely to make a connection with the business and become a returning customer. If you feel that the business cares about you, you might give a little bit of love back.

There are some great examples of businesses that have made a great connection with their customer base through Twitter, and not all of them are the huge corporations. The two biggest examples of using Twitter in the right away are Innocent Drinks and Starbucks.

Check out this ridiculously cute Twitter pic from Innocent’s account. There’s no sales message, it’s all about engagement with their followers. And what could be more engaging than a cute animal pic? Altogether now… Awwwwwwww…

Starbucks are a huge brand, and they are extremely savvy with their social media. They call their employees ‘the Starbucks family’, and the way they have built their brand is to establish themselves as more than just a coffee shop, it’s a collective. And they make sure that their employees are made to feel like it’s more than just a job.

A really heartfelt example of this was seen recently, when Starbucks tweeted about Whitney Heichel, a Starbucks barista who was found murdered last Friday in Gresham, Oregon in the US. In between the fun tweets and coffee related tweets, it was nice to see them show that big corporations also have a conscience.

It was inevitable that after revealing such nice examples of businesses who have used Twitter wisely, there would be examples of companies that have put the ‘twit’ in Twitter, and used the social networking site naively and caused a bit of a stir.

McDonalds and Waitrose, two giants of their fields, tried to incorporate the hashtag into their social media strategy, and connect with their wider audience. What happened next has split the online community in two: Some say there is no such thing as bad publicity; the other side says it was a PR disaster!

Either way, McDonalds’ #McDStories and Waitrose’s #WaitroseReasons  created a lot of fuss when their respective companies launched them. There were some very satirical comments, funny quips, spam (from the usual suspects), nonsensical comments and four letter outbursts galore from people all over the world. The media was quick to point and laugh, but the last laugh seems to be with the companies, who have proven that there’s no such thing as bad publicity. Whether you are a property developer, insurance company or educational institute, using hashtags can really benefit your business.

It’s an interesting debate to have. Who would like to start? Meet me at #GoodBadPublicity… Actually, don’t. Who knows what horrors I could be in for?

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