Shush….it’s a secret…but some big name celebrities who are on Twitter don’t actually Tweet…! Gosh….totes amazeballs and all that…! But strange as it may seem, some celebrities hire a PR agency to do their Tweeting. Not only that but when you have a “conversation” with “John” or “Sally” from customer service, that might not be their real names….! Indeed, your conversation may involve several different people. But they string together several Tweets or Facebook messages in the hope that you think you are chatting to one person.
Other businesses are not such big fibbers. They only Tweet as “the business” not pretending that a real person is talking to you. Meanwhile, some social media savvy firms make sure that when you talk to them on social networks you always chat to the same, real person every time.
These are two diametrically opposed views – one that social media only really works if the company connects to its followers using “real people”, whereas the second view is that followers only want to connect with the brand, not real individuals who work for the company.
Social media gurus are fond of telling you that you simply HAVE to be personal, making sure that the conversation involves real, identifiable people. Social media management companies tell you this is so important that they will be your “person” saving you the bother of dealing with all the messages and chit chat, but giving your company a “real face”. There are plenty of people earning a good living being “ghost tweeters” – not just for celebrities, but also for many commercial concerns.
However, much of what some social media “experts” tell you is based on assumption. To be fair, it is a good assumption – that because social media is social it is about people connecting with each other, not people to some anonymous corporate. That is hardly social, is it?
But like many assumptions, there is only partial truth in it and when someone actually researches the situation you find it is much more complex than at first it seems.
A new study from Louisiana State University has shown that whether your company should have “real people” Tweeting or whether you can be corporate in the world of social media all depends upon the motivations of the person at the other end – your customer or potential client.
If an individual is merely interested in a dialogue with a company then you don’t need to be “real”. People seem perfectly satisfied having conversations with the “brand” or the company itself. However, if the person wants to share information about the company or tell others their experience then having a conversation with a real person appears to be vital.
So, as a business this gives you a choice. If all you want from social media is to have conversations with customers but don’t want anything else as a result, then you don’t need to be “real” – you can be corporate. But if you want people to talk about you, to recommend your products and services to their friends and to help you market your business with word of mouth, then you certainly do need to have real, identifiable people doing your social media activity.
Graham Jones is an Internet Psychologist who studies the way people use the online world, in particular how people engage with businesses. He uses this knowledge to help companies improve their online connections to their customers and potential customers and offers consultancy, workshops, masterclasses and webinars. He also speaks regularly at conferences and business events. Graham is an award-winning writer and the author of 32 books, several of which are about various aspects of the Internet. For more information connect with me on Google+