Brands: Talk S#!@ With Your Customers!

Authentic voices are critical to marketing on Twitter. Your company wants to know what people really think about your brand and your followers want to feel like they are hearing from a real person – not your legal department.

Talking a little sh#!& might be the best way to keep your Twitter conversations authentic and valuable.

Taco Bell recently scored a marketing win by talking S#!@ with their followers. @MensHumor tweeted that if Taco Bell did home deliveries, they would make more money on “4/20”(April 20th).  “420” refers to the number of active chemicals in marijuana and many people celebrate the day by smoking pot.

@MensHumor’s joke, poking fun at stoned people having the munchies, didn’t phase Taco Bell. They took this tweet in stride, tweeting back that the  taco giant would make plenty of money that day anyway and added a #ballin hashtag to their tweet (“Balling” is slang for making lots of money).

Here is the exchange:

Turns out, talking S#!@ may be the best thing a marketer can do on Twitter. Your followers will feel an emotional connection with your brand – the main goal of any ad campaign. And in turn, followers will reward you with real Twitter conversations that give your company valuable insight that you wouldn’t get otherwise.

Experts Weigh In: How to Make Emotional Connections with Followers

“Taco Bell was being playful, but their tweet also had a human voice” observed social consultant Linda Sherman during a panel at Digital Hollywood.

Brands must empower whoever is responsible for their Twitter handle to be real and speak in a way that resonates with their audience. Don’t send out tweets that feel like they have been filtered through several levels of the corporate hierarchy and then the legal department, she recommends.

“Remember:  This is your online voice, not your offline voice” she advises brands.

“Get back to followers right away” advised John Bohan of Socialtyze to emphasize Twitter conversations should feel as real as possible.

Twitter is an “always on” marketing channel, but brands and advertising agencies are used to spending big budgets on individual ad campaigns that run months apart from each other, but are starting to come around to the idea that marketing is now 24 hours a day 365 days a year. Having someone respond right away to tweets is critical, even if it is just to say “we hear you and we will get back to you later.”

“It is hard to get people to talk openly online,” says Anjelika Petrochenko of “Think about how difficult it is for lingerie companies to get their customers to tweet about wearing a new pair of underwear. Now that is a hard conversation to start online.”

LiveJournal solves the problem with a “Question of the Day” section where users can talk openly about sensitive subjects because their forums allow anonymous comments. Market researchers often sponsor questions and they love the insights they get in response, Anjelika says.

Readers – let us know what you think about talking S#!@ in social media . . . unless you aren’t witty enough to string together an interesting sentence or two in response!

Will M is a blogger for AllFacebook and SocialTimes who covers advertising, technology and social games.

(Monkey image from Fotolia)