7 reasons why brands fail on Twitter

by Peter Young on November 9, 2008 · 0 comments

Twitter has become the new bloggers playground, with Andy Murray (Tennis Player) and even Obama twittering on a fairly regular basis (although I would suggest the Obama postings may become slightly less frequent ;) ). However it has also become a commercial tool recently with brands like ComScore, Dell and even the likes of Oracle and IBM getting to grips with the Twitter phenomenon.

However, why do so many brands suck at Twitter?


As many of us know, large organisations often have more defined rules and regulations than smaller organisations and individuals. This lack of flexibility often restricts brands from either

  • Responding quickly to potential issues
  • Corporate guidelines can sometimmes restrict the level/tone of response particularly in larger organisations
  • Senior decision makes sometimes don’t have the familiarity with new technologies and can sometimes be wary of new technologies, and thus slow to adopt

Late to the show

As highlighted on the above point, larger organisations in particular are often slow to react to new technologies, and thus often can be beaten to the punch by competitors or just keen admirers. For example @disney is owned by Cherie Thomas from Los Gatos, California – https://twitter.com/Disney

Those that do adopt, come in two guises

  1. Those that embrace, brands such as Dell and Comscore are perfect examples of this and…
  2. Those that merely sit and do nothing, reserved with little or nothing to say, unsure on how to deal with the new guest to the party – such as Microsoft – twitter.com/microsoft


Lets face it, nearly all of us hate being preached to. Thats one of the beauties of the web. We invite who we want in, in particular search. Twitter is a very personal channel, if people don’t like you they will just stop following you – and thus your Twitter activity will go unnoticed. This lack of direct business return, can often restrict just what activity occurs – and for those that do go down the direct sales channel, can often end in disappointment unless done correctly (The Dell outlet example being a reasonably good example of this.

The Big Brother aspect

There are a number of brands out there following individuals, some as a direct response to previous follows (Starbucks for example returned in kind a follow for me), however others go out directly and follow indivuals in the hope of getting a follow recipricated. However there are a lot of Twitterers who do not like bing followed by corporate followers, and thus such tactics can fall on deaf ears.

Lack of familiarity with brands

With some brands such as IBM and Oracle, individuals have created so called hybrid profiles, such as RichardATDell. Whilst Dell do actually have a brand persona, there are a number of brands out there where hybrid accounts operate, and where these operate without brand compliment, can potentially mean a disassociation with the brand.

The other potential issue can be job migration. People don’t stay in jobs forever and these hybrid accounts can often become obselete very quickly – OracleJulio being one such example.

If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound

With big brands it is likely that people will naturally search for that brand, however this isn’t often the case with smaller brands. For this reason, active commercial use of Twitter in these instances can merely result in lots of effort with little or no return.

Lack of buy-in

Whilst brand monitoring is become more popular by the day, there is still a long way to go. Many brands do not follow what is being said about them online, even by simple devices such as Google Alerts. Without knowing what is being said, it is unlikely some brands will have a justifiable reason to operate in the Blogosphere, let alone Twitter.

There is no doubt the effect Twitter has had within search circles, one only has to look at the people using it (most of the UK and US search welebrity circuit (term coined from Ciaran Norris) are on there including Matt Cutts, Jill Whalen, Jason Calacanis, Danny Sullivan, Lee Odden, Will Critchlow and Richard Scoble,

As an individual, are you on Twitter – if not, why not?

If you are a brand – what are you doing on Twitter. Its not for everyone, however if you are going to enter the brave new world, take your time, do your homework and enter it with your eyes wide open

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