Corporate Twitter Accounts Engaging Their Audiences the Right Way

Southwest Airlines uses a picture of a shark directing a plane to promote an inflight contest via Twitter.

As digital marketers in 2014, we all can agree that social media is a critical component of inbound success. It helps you inform your customers about your business and products and allows you to interact with your customers in new ways.

We have talked a lot about social media on this blog, sharing advice on everything from developing your social strategy to monitoring your conversations. We have even told you how not to do social media. So, the social media scene is nothing new.

Even with all the information and resources on the right way to run your program, there are still so many organizations that struggle to get this whole social media thing down. Your company’s online presence is key to helping your customers feel connected to you. And sharing a little of your own personality, or the personality of your business, is a great way to build that connection.

Mix Personal & Professional

This week, in Part 1 of two-part post for what I am dubbing Social Media Saturday, I wanted to share a few companies that are nailing the mix of product promotion and personality through their professional Twitter accounts. Let these serve as examples of what you should be doing to liven up your online presence.

Because, as social media guru Gary Vaynerchuck said, your content should not be all about your product. It’s about finding balance between story telling and sales pitches. Only after you share several stories do you throw out the sales pitch. You’ll end up being more successful this way.

“Use every customer point of contact to weave stories about who you are and what your brand stands for.”

(@garyvee via Forbes)

Part I: 3 Brands Doing It Right

1. Southwest Airlines (@SouthwestAir)

Several years ago, I attended a social media conference; one of the presenters represented the marketing department of Southwest Airlines. Even from the beginning, this large corporation, who prides itself on customer service, has been a shining example of how to use Twitter to interact with its customers. Known for their prompt replies to guest’s tweets about in-flight experiences (both good and bad), Southwest does more than just push its airline services. It also offers travel tips, fashion advice and even sharks dressed as airline employees as ways to engage with its audience.

Southwest Airlines

The shark photo is intended to promote an onboard contest, but really just made me giggle. The fashion photo, though, captures my attention. I didn’t expect an airplane to focus on fashion, but a clever use of the popular Throw Back Thursday hashtag (#tbt) works here. Because the caption talks about weather, I immediately think of visiting places that are too warm for a poncho (like sunny beaches) and how to get there (on an airplane). The message is almost subliminal, but the photo accomplished its purpose.

2. Kate Spade New York (@katespadeny)

The Twitter account from this high-end fashion and handbag line has long been one of my favorites. Whoever tweets on behalf of the brand (and we have to assume it is a team of tweeters, based on the variety of content) does a good job of balancing the personal with the professional.

Kate Spade’s tagline is “Live Colorfully”. To tell this part of their story, the brand’s Twitter account often includes photographs of colorful imagery seen while walking the streets of New York City. Sometimes, the photos are of Kate Spade boutiques or Kate Spade products in windows of department stores. But more often than that, the feed is full of photos and posts of average, everyday items that evoke the same sense of color and whimsy the brand is known for, such as a photo of tomatoes snapped at a local farmers market.

Kate Spade New York

This photo of Kate Spade employees enjoying hot dogs on National Hot Dog day showcases several ladies wearing Kate Spade-esque clothing (subtle brand promotion) but enjoying a unique NYC experience. Plus, it looks like fun! Don’t be afraid to show the more personable side of your business.

3.Nashville Severe Weather (@nashseverewx)

Here in Nashville, we experience everything from ice storms to tornado warnings throughout the course of a year. While the TV news stations are showing radars and weather patterns, the team behind the Nashville Severe Weather Twitter account is interpreting all of the technical meteorological jargon for us commoners. During severe weather, the feed is relied on by Nashvillians for real-time information about what is actually happening outside (useful if the storms knock the cable out) and for knowing when it’s safe to actually go to bed.

Although not meteorologists by trade, the Nashville Severe Weather team operates the social media platforms for the Nashville arm of the National Weather Service (NWS) using detailed information from radars and the NWS.

Nashville Severe Weather provides real-time updates that are funny and informative through Twitter.

What makes this account so well liked by its 27,000 followers is the conversational tone used to convey important information. When not under severe weather warning, the content consists of daily forecasts and radar maps. But even that is shared with personality. (I needed that Frizzy Hair Alert this week!) No matter what information you are relaying on Twitter, even complicated or technical information can be shared in an engaging and personable way.

Your followers are people…talk to them that way!

These professional Twitter accounts made the list for their ability to promote a product or brand in an engaging, conversational way. Remember, the 270 million people who use Twitter do so to learn information, yes, but also to participate in conversations. Your followers are among these people. So talk to them like they are people! Provide content that makes your users want to have a conversation with you. As we have seen, adding a little humor and wit helps spark those conversations (which ultimately helps you build fans of your brand).

Check back next week for Part 2 of Social Media Saturday for more examples of brands getting it right on Twitter.

Thanks to my colleague Jennifer Kardell for her recommendations of accounts to profile in this post.