Corporate Twittering: A Marketing Mess in a Social Space?

Back to Andy Budd’s recent post about social media consultants clogging up the social media world…

I was wondering about businesses using social media tools, and whether or not it’s okay. Is it right for organisations to invade a space intended for socialising? Does anybody really want marketing to trickle into their online conversations?

It’s always going to be a delicate issue, as many people resent marketing messages intruding yet another aspect of their social life. So what’s acceptable?

I think that the ideal compromise between marketing and social media is for individuals within organisations to exist online – representing their organisation but no being defined by it. So a company’s people enter the social media-sphere, bringing their business with them.

Corporate communications

Who wants to hear what a company has to say? Arguably, very few people give a monkeys what a lifeless entity has to ‘say’. But if an organisation’s people can join in – representing both their own self and their employer, then everyone is happy. The organisation gets thoughtful, proactive participants in digital life, a discreet marketing boost and the chance to show the world what an open, progressive company they are.

Everyone else wins because we don’t get showered with generic corporate communications or blatant spam.

What do you think? Are corporate Twitter accounts bad, bland or brilliant?


  1. I’m pretty sure they’re pissing in the pool, frankly. It starts out small and then gets bigger and bigger as excitable social media ‘entrepreneurs’ start trying to piss for longer and longer until, inevitably, someone accidentally slips out a proverbial turd.

    Maybe I’m taking that metaphor a bit too far (never metaphor I didn’t like, though).

    Twitter is slowly being ruined by celebrity accounts that give people an easy way to communicate with them… with the unfortunate side-effect of me having to read their pseudo-casual wank-fests. The corporate side is just as offensive, if a little less noticeable, and another example of just how easily these things get destroyed the moment they gather any fame. I’m not too sure how much longer I’ll keep my account, even though I’m sure I am as awful as the people I mention above… in fact, that’s probably another reason to close it soon.

    Comment by Chris Billett — February 9, 2009 @ 5:21 pm

  2. Hi Chris, but isn’t the secret just to un-follow the celebrities and social media gurus?

    I think the following example is the ‘turd’ you foresee ‘slipping out’:

    Comment by Leif Kendall — February 9, 2009 @ 5:40 pm

  3. Oh Jesus! That’s top notch. Perfect example… I probably do it all the time, though, even though it pleases me to get someone else get caught with their cheese in the wind!

    Comment by Chris Billett — February 9, 2009 @ 6:11 pm

  4. “Everyone else wins because we don’t get showered with generic corporate communications”

    As long as that continues to be the case, then everybody does win. But just because an account is given a person’s name rather than a company’s, doesn’t mean we won’t see more cynical Twitter-based marketing in the future.

    Comment by Neil the Copywriter — February 18, 2009 @ 10:06 am

  5. Hi Neil,

    Quite right – just because a Twitter account is a person’s name, that doesn’t mean it won’t be abused as a one-way spam channel. Likewise, a company Twitter ID might be the work of a genuine, authentic, attentive individual.

    So the name used is irrelevant really. The important thing is the intention of the Twitterer. But, the simple genius of Twitter is the ease with which you can unfollow people. So whenever any Twitter account becomes overloaded with marketing, simply stop following.

    Comment by Leif Kendall — February 18, 2009 @ 11:03 am

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