What's Twitter Etiquette for Brands?

-Twitter Logo-Over the weekend, there was a lot of buzz about Britney Spears launching her own Twitter account. The initial discussion surrounded what this meant for Twitter, as it now appeared to be moving more mainstream. Britney’s presence on Twitter also coincides with the launch of her new song “Womanizer” (which I’ve embedded below).

The second discussion about Britney’s presence on Twitter was that it wasn’t personal. Gary Vaynerchuk highlighted this in a pretty entertaining video. As many people noticed, the tweets being posted to Britney’s accounts were being run by her team and not by Britney. At least Britney’s team acknowledged Gary’s request to be more personal earlier this morning.

The Varying Twitter Accounts

People use Twitter for different purposes. The most obvious is for expressing personal thoughts and then communicating with others. Some users (like myself), mix personal and promotional purposes with Twitter. I for instance post my blog posts and then post personal thoughts and write about the activities that I’m up to.

Comcast, which is probably the best brand example on Twitter, has Frank Eliason who manages the Comcast cares account. Frank monitors all instances of people tweeting about Comcast and gets directly in touch with them. A small group of accounts are actively managed by other people. For instance Barack Obama does not personally update his Twitter account.

Instead, Obama has a team which regularly updates Twitter with Obama’s activities. That doesn’t stop Obama from being the largest user by a huge margin. Barack Obama has over 100,000 followers.

What is the Right Way to Use Twitter?

This all brings me back to my original question which is: what’s the best way for brands to leverage Twitter? Gary Vaynerchuk believes that brands must provide a personal voice and a face if they are going to succeed. NPR News has one of the top 100 Twitter accounts though and they provide nothing personal, only news. There are 18 brands that function like NPR in the top 100 accounts.

The other 82 are all individuals. Does this mean that one should use Twitter as an individual then? I’m not quite sure to be honest. I think that based on the accounts I’ve looked at, you have to choose from the onset whether or not you want to be personal, or act as a brand. If your account is as a brand, don’t expect to have the same type of personal connection which helps small businesses grow.

Large brands can go off their brand name but small brands are forced to be more personal. What do you think is proper etiquette for brands? Do you prefer the personal route or the branded route? Is there anything in between?