Confession time; despite being a consultant to brands on their Twitter activity, I don’t follow many of them. I have tried to follow many for research reasons, but inevitably I hit the ‘unfollow’ button when the relentless self-promotion just gets too much. This is because I am, I would argue, a fairly normal Twitter user. I have my professional reasons for being on there, but the reason I keep going back is for entertainment and networking – something you generally get more out of individual accounts than corporate branded ones.
There are a couple of exceptions to this rule though. Other than client accounts, I do follow my mobile operator and for quite a while I’ve been following @BetfairPoker, the feed that’s been causing a bit of a stir of late. I can’t remember how it began, I think they may have given me the original follow and I obligingly followed back as it looked like an interesting account. I gave them a follow Friday in August last year and they’ve given me the odd random @ reply, which leads me to suspect it is run by someone I know (though I cannot solve this mystery, sorry).
Techcrunch recently plugged the feed for its whimsical ramblings, ingenious insights into a fictional version of the Betfair offices and hilarious faux life-coach style statements. This led to some trade press, mentions in the Independent, and the Evening Standard bizarrely hitting out against the account they mistakenly claim has ‘just launched’ for ‘clogging up the ether’.
So now there’s little argument that the account has come good, but mainstream press was clearly never the aim. So what was? It rarely links to offers, or anything on the Betfair Poker site, doesn’t discuss products, it interacts with users but does not help them with technical questions.
Well, it’s clear to me why my mobile operator is on Twitter. I follow them because I am already a customer – they tweet offers that are often pertinent to me, and I obligingly click away. Customer communication is an important part of their business, so that’s fine, but it does next to nothing for their brand and little for acquisitions. I’d suggest a very low percentage of their (real) followers are not already customers.
Conversely, @BetfairPoker clearly have plenty of non-customer followers, people like me who follow for entertainment value, but will now think of Betfair first whenever they consider playing poker online. The account gives Betfair a sense of humour, makes them more human and builds trust. Where so many brands are approaching social media as a direct response medium (very easy to do when the metrics are so readily available – digital advertising is still having trouble moving on from this) here is a brilliant example of using it for branding.