[Editor’s Note: Andrea Wolinetz (@adubs323) is the Lead Social Media Strategist at Mediaedge:cia a group dedicated to assisting MEC brands in multidirectional conversations between themselves and consumers. She has been a music industry insider, a medical school coordinator, a chef, a sixth grade teacher and a PA on television shows.]
In the wake of the Ashton/CNN Race to A Million Followers and Oprah’s subsequent segment on the tool, it seems that all the world is finally a-Twitter. Or at least there was a 43% spike in traffic the day after Oprah tweeted on-air, and it seems that every publisher from Advertising Age to the New York Times are writing about who’s using Twitter, how they’re using it (everything from marriage proposals to job offers to saving lives like Demi Moore), and what it means that one person, by using word of mouth solely, could beat a broadcast network to 1,000,000 followers.
But as I religiously checked the feeds of Ashton and Oprah and Demi and CNN over the course of the weekend, one thing quickly became clear to me. Brands have a lot to learn from Larry King.
Almost effortlessly, Mr. King entered the Twitter ring doing “everything right.” Every CMO and brand manager should be following @kingsthings as the example par excellence of how to have a personal voice while promoting a brand and a product. Here is a list of what Mr. King already has learned and what brands should think about as they enter the exponentially growing world of Twitter:
- He promoted his feed elsewhere. When Larry King launched @kingsthings, he let people know he was there and how to find him. He created a video in response to Mr. Kutcher and promptly syndicated it to YouTube and other outlets. He also discussed the Twitter phenomenon on his show. Mr. King recognizes that Twitter, like other social media, doesn’t live in a bubble.
- His tweets are diverse. @kingsthings tweets are just as likely to be about his son’s little league games, the Dodgers or his hope to be on Jimmy Fallon when his book comes out, as they are about his upcoming guests on his talk show.
- He is authentic and personal. Unlike some other CelebTweet’s or Brands out there (see: @TheEllenShow or @handm) it is easy to tell from the tone of the tweets, that it is in fact Mr. King updating his 140 characters every time. (see above about the tweets on his sons little league games)
- He keeps a good ratio of informational to promotional tweets. He provides something useful and original to his followers. The information tweeted by Mr. King cannot necessarily be found elsewhere. Additionally, not every tweet is about his upcoming show. Mr. King understands that followers want to know who he is and what he’s doing just as much as what is coming up on Larry King Live.
- He is engaging his audience. Instead of just letting us know what guests he’s lined up, Mr. King asks his followers for interview questions and comments that he will pass along to his guests. Mr. King understands the power of the conversational/multi-directional nature of Twitter.
- He responds to personally directed questions in a timely fashion. When a follower tweets at Mr. King, he responds within 24 hours. Whether it be a response to a question with a link to the answer or just a simple tweet @ to say thank you to a supporter, Mr. King pays attention to his followers and does so quickly and nimbly.
- He updates regularly, but not overwhelmingly. While Mr. King is clearly a busy man, he manages to find the time to write 140 characters. Twitter feeds are only as valuable as the quality and quantity of the posts. While there are more prolific celebrity tweeters out there (see @johncmayer), what Mr. King has artfully done is keep us up to date without inundating us with tweets.
- Brands thinking about creating their own feeds should look at the above as best practices. Finding a voice and creating content that is not too promotional are essential to the success of a feed.
The more original, the more relevant, the more authentic and the more engaging a brand can be as they tweet, the more followers brands will have.
If brands continue to be focused on promotion and ignore the wants and needs of their consumers, they deserve what many of us in the twittersphere have seen before – FAILWHALE.