33 thoughts on “DEBATE: Why Brands Should Have One Person per Twitter Account

    1. But brands on twitter are tied to individuals all the time. Ford=Scott Monty Mashable=Pete Cashmore Comcast= Frank Liason PitchEngine= Jason Kintzler.

      At the same time, all of those companies have other accounts representing them as well. Even if you only had one account tied to one person, whether or not the community becomes closely tied to the individual, or the brand, is about the strategy.

      Personally I think that if Scott Monty left, yes it would affect them because he is great at what he does, but the people that started loving Ford because of him will still love Ford.

      I’m not saying that you should only have one account. I’m saying that you should have multiple accounts with single individuals running each one.

      1. Good examples. But I’m seeing many on the other side.

        Basically, many different models can work – as long as there’s transparency and authentic humanity at both ends of the conversation. I’m fine with multi-rep accounts, as long as they’re not pretending to be otherwise.

        I also like this model – in which all reps are branded with the company logo, and are given “role names”. They’re free to tweet on their own, but it creates a clear line and allows for a range of voices representing the brand: http://thebrandbuilder.wordpress.com/2009/10/02/how-to-manage-an-enterprise-twitter-presence-avatars-account-structure-and-response-methodology/

        1. Yep I like Olivier’s model too.

          My points aren’t necessarily about transparency or honesty, because I think it should go without saying that it should be clear who’s tweeting. I’m just questioning the efficiency.

  1. I love that you posted about this because it’s something we go back and forth on at my office a lot. I agree with you, but in the case of our agency, it’s much harder for us to do as a small company. We each have our own roles as client managers, and since we don’t have an official Social Media Manager, we have multiple users Tweeting. We’re a firm of five people, so we can’t afford the manpower to designate one person as Social Media Manager. We have three people Tweeting on our company account, and while most of it’s done by just two of us, I know it would be hard for me to keep up without the other person, and the other Tweeter admitted to me it would be hard for her to keep up on her own. For a small agency, I think this has worked pretty well for us.

    With two of us, I’ve noticed that one of us has taken over primary client/blog-related Tweeting, while the other does more networking/RTing others with our Twitter account. I think it works well, but you’re right, it’s good to have “humanizing” Tweets, and with two people that is more difficult to do. Finding consistency with the voice of the Tweets is a challenge, but we’re getting better.

    On the other hand, when I imagine someone tweeting with me on my personal Twitter, it makes me uncomfortable. Having a consistent voice with your Tweets is important, and you nailed it with #1. People want to know who they are talking to.

    Do you think it’s different for small agencies compared to large agencies? Or maybe different depending on the corporate side v. agency side? I’m looking forward to other comments.

    1. I mean I guess it’s up to your goals. Another issue is responsibility. If you have two people tweeting from a single account, are you both responsible for what is said? If your colleague says something inappropriate, people might think it was you.

      I think for a small agency, if you really want to maintain a fully active twitter account and you don’t have the time to do it yourself, then you’re forced to use more than person. It becomes an issue of creating a strategy and having good communication between everyone.

  2. Agreed! I had a quick convo with @BostonMarketer a few weeks ago on this when I chimed into a twitter conversation from, I think, #IMS09

    I felt that CoTweet, for example, was a broken process in terms of getting to know multiple users on one account. The idea is to have multiple people monitor ONE account. ^MR (my initials) would then post at the end of the post to share with the world that “I” posted that tweet.

    The issues are this..

    1) How do I know what ^MR is without already understanding the concept? The account using the initial-tags would have to explain it to me somewhere. They could do it in the bio.. but that takes away from my already limiting 160 characters. And the could add it on the Twitter Background (where I usually see it explained) to further explain who that initial-tag is.

    2) So maybe I do understand what your initial-tag is – I still don’t want to take the extra time to figure out WHO you are. Many people, like myself, use a desktop application like TweetDeck or Seesmic. I’m most likely only going to visit your Twitter URL one time – and thats the first time I check to see what you are all about; I will probably never go back to your Twitter Page (unless I want to see your lists.. but in my case.. it’s not a feature yet).

    I agree that it works very well for a well-organized Customer Service Team to do – but if you are all a different voice with different expertise and opinions, I think you should stick to having your own account. By doing so, you also extend your personal brand within the company brand.

    Remember – the Twitter account is YOUR account. use it to your advantage; treat it like a portfolio (aka – micro-blog). Your boss/company is letting you use your personal brand as an extension to them. They are taking advantage of that fact – and also taking a risk. So play smart!

  3. I don’t think there’s a right or wrong answer here–it’s whatever works for the customers. I agree that in many cases, it’s best for people to know who they’re talking to…the ^JP doesn’t cut it. So one person being in charge of a company account might be best.

    I also think maybe we sit and debate this stuff while “normal” folks don’t really care or even think about it. Most people would just be happy that somebody/anybody from a big brand responded to their tweet/complaint/cry for help.

    1. Right. I agree normal people won’t care, and that’s why if it’s a customer service account, it’s different. I’m talking about a brand’s account that exists to interact, connect with the community, and contribute to the conversation.

  4. It seems like you are saying exactly what the very old idiom says ” Too many cooks spoil the broth ” …. however I do agree with Matt that there could be a scenario where the recipe is very defined, each cook knows exactly what the other is supposed to do and so in a customer service situation it could work. Think Apple support; at least my experience is whomever I get for follow up knows exactly what has gone before.

    This is a very valid discussion. Thanks David for bringing it up.

    @CASUDI

  5. I think it depends on what your purpose is of having a Twitter account. Look at Best Buy’s @twelpforce – multiple users, but it works extremely well for them.

    Then you look at @BofA_Help – large corporate company, but he uses Twitter to direct customers to another source.

    Same goes with ComcastCares..there’s no way he could handle all the requests, so he can assist when needed and then direct customers to other venues or get people in touch with each other.

    This is just on a customer service level. From a marketing or communication role, then I agree with you David and think 1 person is *typically* best.

  6. Olivier Blanchard laid out a pretty good rubric for enterprise Twitter use and did the topic far better justice than I could in the comments here, so I’ll just link to his post:

    http://thebrandbuilder.wordpress.com/2009/10/02/how-to-manage-an-enterprise-twitter-presence-avatars-account-structure-and-response-methodology/

    Basically, he advocates a central “brand” Twitter account and then several name/person specific accounts to deal with customers directly through. I think it’s a pretty good approach, but obviously it all depends on what your organization’s goal is with using Twitter.

    1. Thanks for sharing the link Amy. I remember reading that post from Olivier and really enjoyed it. It’s a good model, just for the “branded” central account, it should only be used by multiple people if its focus is customer service in my opinion.

  7. Depends on the organization or client. Some don’t know what their voice is. Do you keep chugging along with one person if they don’t know the brand? Do you switch it up if one approach doesn’t work?

    The strategy table should have multiple people, but one person should execute it. The brand and customers come first. You need to build that foundation with one person.

    But if you have a strategy table full of people (PR, ad, CEO, etc.) then there is actually more than one person tweeting – even if only 1 is typing. Messaging, ideas and strategy = more than one person on the Twitter account.

    1. If your employees don’t know the brand or the voice of the brand, then you have bigger issues than who is maintaining the twitter account.

      Yes I agree…multiple people, or a team, should be responsible for developing the strategy.

      I still think that you should only have on person maintaining that account once the strategy is established.

      If you have a PR pro an ad pro and the CEO all wanting to tweet, I think it would be a lot smarted to have them all tweet from separate accounts, that still represent the brand.

      1. Well, that’s what I said. 🙂 One person executes – and you’re transparent about it. But I don’t think you can say one person is on the account when multiple minds go into it. Execution and strategy make up SM, together.

        One person might say what 20 people agree on, but those 21 folks invest themselves in the brand on SM channels.

  8. One thing I struggle with whenever this question comes up is the reality check factor.

    Is it even feasible (and/or cost efficient) for most companies to have one person whose day is wholly or in part dedicated to tweeting? Or even to all social media activity? In my experience, the answer is no. That’s because most companies (not everyone is a Ford, Best Buy or Apple) need those employees to be working on something else that is, in some way, contributing to the sale of its products or the growth of its business. To date, social media hasn’t yet proven its mettle (again, for most comapnies/organizations) as a profit generator.

    To your specific points though, David, I’m not sure you avoid those issues simply by having just one person tweet. I’m sure we all know individuals on Twitter who could be found guilty of inconsistency, repetition and even sounding robotic due to self-serving, marketing-speak tweets.

    To me, the answer to those issues isn’t to have a single “tweetmaster,” but, rather, to have a strategic, thoughtful and well-executed social media plan. I agree with the first part of LAF’s comment above – “Depends on the organization or client” – and think the issue of one vs. multiple tweeters should be addressed in the process of developing a clear social media strategy that’s right for your organization.

    1. Veronica,

      Thank you very much for the thoughtful comment.

      Re point one: Based on the size and scale of the company, they may very well need to have someone dedicated to social media full time. Why not? There are employees dedicated to customer service, to marketing, to PR, to advertising etc…that are full time.

      The smaller the business becomes, the more employees become a “jack of all trades” as they may not have the resources to assign specific people to specific responsibilities. That doesn’t mean that you have to have everyone maintaining the twitter account. You can still have one person who’s responsibility it is to carry out the corporate twitter strategy. Others can have their own accounts representing themselves as part of the brand.

      re point two: If you’re facing the issues of an individual being inconsistent, repetitive, self serving etc…that has a lot more to do with the individual, and/or the strategy, than the amount of people you have tweeting.

  9. It’s actually very simple. Companies need to have one account for customer service issues that can be maintained by multiple people because honestly, people don’t CARE who they’re talking to. They just want their issue resolved quickly and easily. Tone and “knowing the person” doesn’t matter as much in this regard.

    But you raise an interesting topic, because I think that as SM evolves, companies will regret having one person and one “face” speaking to SM audiences on behalf of their company. For example Ford, which is really doing things well/right, at some point is going to have to have someone else talking in the SM space, or they’re going to have to have them post to Scott Monty’s handle. Scott IS the face of Ford in the SM space, and he’s a giant. Up until recently, he was also a one man band. It will just be too much at some point to engage effectively for him. And another thing to consider, what if Scott Monty gets hired by someone else, or god forbid gets hit by a bus tomorrow? Does that mean that Ford will have to immediately place someone else in his position? How much of a setback is that for the company brand online? That’s going to be tough, that person won’t have built up the same trust and credibility Scott has. Are they going to have to take a giant leap backwards if that happens? I would say yes.

    I think an effective strategy for companies looking to scale this would be to have multiple people speaking on behalf of the company (all on their own accounts), and interacting with one another so the audience gets to know them and their style, and how they play off one another. This way it’s not ALL on one person to handle and build up. If you’re successful, it will always be too much for one person, and then you’re scrambling to catch up. If you start with the idea that this will scale quickly from the word go, you’ll be in a much better position to succeed. Then the customers can decide who they like best, who they want to engage with, but they know that SOMEONE will be there to communicate with them at all times.

    1. Good stuff Jay.

      I met Scott Monty this past weekend at blogworld. When people tell him that they love what he’s doing, he doesn’t talk about himself. The first thing he says is “we’re just lucky to have such a great product”. I thought it was amazing because true, he is a giant in the space, but he places all of the focus on the product, not himself. When he leaves, sure the “social media” people won’t talk about ford as much, but who cares. The customers that came to love Ford through Scott Monty will still love Ford when he’s gone.

      So yes, it comes down to strategy. Scott did a great job by creating that personal connection that tied closely with the brand. If they wanted more people to participate, they shouldn’t add more people onto his account. They should have others take the same path, on their own account.

      1. Completely agree with you, if they’re going to scale they should add more great people like Scott and bring them into the fold, and I’m sure they will.

        But like it or not, people associate him with the brand, so if he goes away (soon, for sake of argument), they might lose some credibility and love in the space. And I can assure you that if Scott leaves and people aren’t talking about Ford in the SM space as much (as you said), Ford will care. Once you’re on top of the mountain, you want to stay there.

        From a strategy perspective, this is a great discussion, and one that I’m interested in because I myself will have to consider something similar at some point with our company.

        Always be thinking.

  10. Great subject, David! I’m siding with the commenters who have said the right answer is relative. The example I have in mind hasn’t been raised.

    Piper Reese is the youngest reporter and video podcaster. Her Twitter account, @PipersPicksTV is run by “TeamPiper”. When Piper answers directly, the message is always from a first person perspective and typically ends with her name. All other posts usually reference Piper in third person or just post a general comment or piece of info. “TeamPiper” seems to have become a recognized part of the show as well among subscribers. Like the example someone posted above, it’s a very small team. It just wouldn’t make sense to never have Piper comment, since she’s the main draw to the show and it wouldn’t work to have her do all the tweeting at her age.

    I’ve seen other examples where big shows have one main account and a ton of people who work on the show, with separate Twitter accounts, retweeting messages from each other. The main account is often impersonal (just an ad for the show) while the individual Twitter accounts leave the viewer wondering which one to follow. When using a main account, it is important to respond to incoming tweets to avoid having “social media” become just “media”.

    1. Interesting example Adam. It sounds though like this is another case of an account being used for a “customer service” type function. That is, it focuses on responding to people who message them. For these cases, yes you should have a team working on one account.

      Although, I would assume that the people messaging Piper want to hear from her, not from her team.

      True she can’t respond to everyone, but if she takes a little time to respond to a few here and there, it will go a long way compared to having a team respond to everyone.

      1. Funny thing is, viewers now write to “Piper and Team” or just the Team. They’ve adapted to the style. I guess it’s her community.

        It is great to be able to answer, but when queries come in through all sorts of other places (Facebook, YouTube, a website, direct e-mails), it stretches things thin.

        Again, great subject! Thank you for raising it!

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