This phrase "follow me on twitter" is starting to bug me. It all started when The Bay (@thehudsonsbayco) radio ads added "..and you can follow us on twitter". I've tried to engage with their brand on twitter several times and have had no interaction. When I look at their twitter stream I see some interaction but they, IHO, are not truly engaging.
"Follow me" or the FB version of "Like me" infers a one way communication. You follow them , they provide information. Likely the same information they have traditionally pushed out through other channels - sales, events, new product info. It feels like the marketing department said we really HAVE to get on twitter - everyone else is there. So they got an account. But they have not yet developed a true strategy to engage with their "followers". They likely have in depth strategies on how they will position themselves in all their other channels - why not twitter too?
I've tried to engage with @thehudsonsbayco and several other brands on twitter over the past few weeks. I've asked very deliberate questions. Questions clearly directed at them, not just conversations where you flag a brand. I've asked questions that should be easy for the corporate tweeter to answer. None have been answered. Now I don't expect 100% of my mentions of a brand to get answered. But when I form a deliberate question directed to them I would hope that at least some would get an answer. Maybe not right away. I understand that many brands do not have 24/7 coverage on social media. But I do hope for an eventual answer.
The other end of the spectrum is @xboxsupport. I tweeted a comment about a problem with our kinect. It wasn't a direct question. So I wasn't expecting an answer. 10 minutes later I had a reply with a link to a potential fix to my problem. They then followed up with a DM to get my feedback on my level of service. If you check the @xboxsupport twitter bio it clearly indicates they are there to engage. It also includes the hours the account is serviced. Xbox clearly has a customer service strategy for their twitter interactions on this account (and they have other accounts that engage people in different ways).
Another brand that I've found a lot of fun to interact with is @canadianliving. I tweeted something about a recipe of theirs I was trying. They replied, pretty quickly on a Sunday, that I should post photos. We had a little conversation about muffins. And then I asked if the recipe could be done with whole wheat flour. The tweeter told me she'd check with their test kitchen the next day (it was Sunday). On Monday I had an answer and suggestions. The next time I made that recipe I tried their suggestions and then I posted photos. Not only was I happy with the customer service, but it increased the perception of their brand with my followers. Many of whom piped in about the muffins and the recipe.
It takes a clear engagement and positioning strategy for twitter. Just opening an account, telling people to follow you and then using it to push corporate announcements isn't enough today. Yes it takes a lot of work to manage a successful brand twitter account. But it has always taken a lot of work to build relationships with your customers. I don't understand why brands seem to think social media is going to be any different. Their is this "get rich quick" mentality to using these free tools. But twitter isn't a Kevin Costner movie, if you build it they will NOT necessarily come.
So don't just tell me to follow you. Give me a reason to have a conversation with your brand. Even the pied piper gave people a reason to follow him.
Do you favourite brands you follow in social media? Do you have examples of brands who seem to get it? Or those that are just hoping for people to show up. Feel free to answer in the comments or @tjrossignol. I respond within normal waking hours.