Look Who’s Tweeting

In some ways, using Twitter for marketing and advertising purposes today is like trying your hand at a corporate blog back in 2003. The interest was there, but few tactical guidelines existed — and even fewer successful examples from which to draw insight.

On the whole, Twitter has attracted more big name early adopters than blogs ever did. Besides Zappos, there’s Carnival Cruise Lines, Comcast, Dell, Forbes, GM, JetBlue, Marriott International Hotels and Resorts, and innumerable others. Some brands that seem to be a perfect fit for a service that by nature encourages pithy remarks and quips (Trader Joe’s and Burt’s Bees, I’m looking at you) are conspicuously absent — so far. At the same time, others are leveraging the medium for all they can, and providing some valuable lessons in the process.

@RootsCanada: Spread The Love

This lifestyle brand (and Canadian tradition) has a split personality on Twitter: part personal stylist, part customer care specialist. Roots Canada’s tweets consist of suggested purchases for specific customer segments (“Attention Spring Breakers! I’ve pulled together a selection of Roots gear that you might like. Check it out here: http://tinyurl.com/dd6m7l“), and invitations to participate in celebrating the brand. A recent post read, “Ok all, putting this out there — if you’ve got a pic of you, your kids, pet, fav Roots item — DM me! Love to feature u on our blog. Really.”

Roots is making good on its promise, posting pictures of its Twitter followers submitted as a result of the call for entries. Dialogue with users follows an effective pattern of praising the brand, then praising the loyal consumer in return. This makes the Roots Twitter page a love-fest befitting of this iconic Canadian brand and the way its steadfast customers feel about its products. And just to make sure its consumers don’t miss out, Roots is now cleverly linking to Twitter from its e-mail newsletters.

@Jamie_Oliver: Background Check

Celebrity chef, author, and television star (with his own magazine, no less) Jamie Oliver uses Twitter to answer the question on everyone’s minds: What did he eat for dinner last night? (leeks from his own garden, apparently). He also drives traffic to his recipes, and chats with the “genuine lovely people” who follow him with Rachael Ray-like devotion. His tweets post to his site home page, and Oliver is leveraging his Twitter page background to promote “Jamie’s Red Nose Recipes,” which raises money for the U.K.’s “Red Nose Day” and Comic Relief charity.

@RichardBranson: Let’s Get Personal

Fellow Brit Richard Branson takes a similar Twitter approach to that which has made Tony Hsieh such a tweeting success: he tweets far more about himself than his corporate holdings. Since he tweets under his own name instead of his brand, and since this is publicity-loving Branson we’re talking about, the kind of posts you’ll get include his attempt to break the trans-Atlantic speed record and fly around the world.

The former actually launched his Twitter experience, but later entries suggest he also sees the benefits beyond personal promotion. Branson is now using his posts to push followers to his blog and the Virgin Atlantic Facebook page.

@BenefitBeauty: A Lesson in Tone

Beauty brand Benefit may be new to Twitter, but you’d hardly know it given its ability to identify ideal opportunities to promote itself without the hard sell. The day of the Academy Awards, Benefit posted that it was “thrilled that Evan Rachel Wood is wearing her Benefit fragrance on the Oscar red carpet!” It’s the kind of priceless branding information that a consumer might never learn, and Twitter is the ideal avenue through which to deliver it.

Benefit gets big marks for maintaining its signature tone in its tweets. Offline, its products have names like “that gal” and “some kind-a gorgeous,” and are often accompanied by images of 1950s style pin-up girls, superheroes, and Hawaiian hula-girl statuettes. On Twitter, posts are peppered with phrases like “oh, hello flawless!” and refer to products in an off-handed manner (“this week deserves an extra dose of erase paste. what a week!”) The brand’s Twitter page bio? “Laughter is the best cosmetic, so grin and wear it!”

Consumers are in for some fun.

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