The Most Successful Brands on Twitter Follow These 5 Rules

by Zia A., posted 1 year ago
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In social media, as in life, there are different ways of defining success. A large number of followers for example, is one indicator (but certainly not the only one) of a successful brand. Other desirable metrics might be traffic, engagement, brand awareness, conversion, or sales. Everyone defines success a little differently, but when we examine the top brands on social media it turns out they share some common traits. What are they? Let’s take a look.

Rule #1: They have a strategy.

Every time you engage in social media – every tweet you post, every conversation you join, every comment you reply to – is, or more importantly, should be, part of an overall social media marketing strategy. This isn’t just a forum to shout from a soapbox, this is an opportunity to build your brand and the best way to do that is to have a plan.

A social media marketing plan is a summary of your marketing goals and the steps you’ll take to achieve them. The more specific your plan is, the more effective you’ll be in implementing it. This will be the guide for your social media marketing actions in the future (6-12 months is a good horizon), so it needs to be clear, concise, and actionable with well-defined tasks, goals, and indicators.

Look closely and you’ll see that brands that are killing it on social media aren’t using a shotgun approach; they’re laser-focused, putting out consistent content that’s relevant to their personality and their audience.



Rule #2: They have a distinct voice.

This rule isn’t limited to social media – think of your favourite comedians, writers, journalists, or musicians, they usually have a distinct style, tone, and voice (no one ever heard Kanye West rap about accounting software or Lena Dunham extol the virtues of the Republican point of view). Why? Because crafting a distinct voice means your audience gets to know you and comes to rely on you for a certain tone and style. Heed this advice: the most successful brands find their voice and stick with it.

Be warned that this is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, a distinct voice sets you apart from the competition. On the other, not everyone will love your style. But better to have a smaller group of loyal and engaged followers than a bigger group of people who only feel luke warm about your brand. Remember the old adage, if everybody likes you, you’re doing something wrong.

Defining your brand’s voice is particularly important when more than one person is involved in managing your social media (a clear understanding of tone will help keep communications consistent, no matter who posts), but even if you’re a lone ranger, having a clear voice and brand personality will help keep you on track to craft copy that resonates with your target audience.

Joanna Wiebe from Copy Hackers says this:

Your message is what you try to communicate. Your tone of voice is how you communicate it. Tone takes a statement and either breathes life into it…or sucks the life out of it.

If you’re looking for inspiration for where to begin, check out Mailchimp’s Guide to Voice & Tone, or go through Distilled’s guide to Finding Your Voice. Here are some examples of a clear tone from Virgin and Taco Bell – can you see how they differ? Virgin is inspiring and professional, in keeping with their brand, while Taco Bell has a funnier and more conversational tone.

brand tone and voice 

social media tone and voice


Rule #3: They deliver quality content.

Old media, new media, remember the rule: content is king.

Great content is key to success in social media. Post irrelevant or uninteresting content that no one wants to read and you’ll lose your audience faster than you can say “retweet.”

What makes great content? Research out of Cornell University found that the secret to more RTs is:

… adding more information, making one’s language align with both community norms and with one’s prior messages, and mimicking news headlines.

Confused? Me too. Let’s break it down. What the study really showed is that successful tweets are tweets that: add value, and are consistent and relevant.

  1. Value
    Before we even get to the retweet stage we have to start with the actual tweet – are you posting something that brings value to your audience? Is the information useful, educational, and/or entertaining? Before someone retweets you, you have to grab their attention and give them something they find interesting enough to retweet.How? You need to know your audience inside and out. Where do they come from? What do they like? What’s their online behaviour? Surveys, social media monitoring, and tools like Google Analytics will be your new best friends as you delve into the minds and habits of your followers. Your goal is to be the omniscient concierge, anticipating their every need before they even know they need it.
  1. Relevance
    This follows from item #1. You need a thorough understanding of your audience before you can decide if something is relevant to them. Air conditioning repair? Maybe not necessary for life in the great white north. But ice fishing equipment? In for the win!It’s important to remember that relevance is twofold. On the one hand it refers to content relevant to your audience. On the other, content must also be relevant to your brand. Provide relevant content and you’ll attract a quality audience that will help your business grow.
  1. Consistency
    If you’ve been paying attention you’ll know we’ve arrived at item #3: consistency. Like relevance, this is a two-parter. Good content is (i) consistent with your brand, and (ii) consistent in frequency. Post regularly, post stuff that remains true to your voice and you’ll be on your way to playing with the big dogs.Speaking of dogs, as with animal training, consistency helps people know what to expect and develops trust and credibility over time, two huge items that money can’t buy, but that can translate into big gains in your bottom line.Check out some examples of great content from Airbnb and Oreo – valuable, relevant, consistent. Looks like they’ve been checking out the Twitter Counter tweets 😉

value content

Worth its weight in GOLD!

— Oreo Cookie (@Oreo) December 13, 2016


Rule #4: They engage with their audience in different ways.

According to the New York Times’ Customer Insights Group, there are five main reasons why people share content online. CoSchedule has summarized them in a helpful infographic.

the psychology of sharing

So diversify your content and choose different formats to deliver your message. Images, videos, live-streaming, GIFs, contests, and Twitter polls may encourage audience interaction, increase engagement, generate leads, and maintain and build your following long term.

Rule #5: They create a community.

Successful brands realize that social media isn’t a monologue, it’s a dialogue with your audience where people discuss and interact. Setting aside time (even 20-30 minutes a day) to reply to comments, initiate conversation, share content, and engage with your community creates strong ties and a loyal following.

Remember that social media isn’t email – it’s important to be speedy with your replies (35% of people turn to social media for customer support and they expect a fast response).

Remember that social media isn’t a radio – it’s important to keep communication flowing in both directions.

Remember that social media isn’t an ad in a magazine – it’s a living breathing conversation and a unique opportunity to engage directly with your audience, with no mediator in between.

Whether it’s through regular posting, commenting, Twitter chats, or another tool, the best brands encourage community, facilitate discussion, and follow up on feedback quickly.

Twitter Chat

What do you struggle with the most when it comes to building a social media presence for your brand? Let us know in the comments below and check out Twitter Counter for great tools and tips that will make social media marketing a snap. Sign up for a free trial at