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Avoiding Twitter Tribble Accounts: Solutions for Multiple Twitter Disorder

All you need is a seed, a unique idea, a marketable concept that, with attention and care, can help a company’s brand to flourish. Twitter is a key fertilizer for online branding, because it’s a way for companies to connect with a customer base and spread out. But what happens when a company’s customer base…

All you need is a seed, a unique idea, a marketable concept that, with attention and care, can help a company’s brand to flourish. Twitter is a key fertilizer for online branding, because it’s a way for companies to connect with a customer base and spread out.

But what happens when a company’s customer base gets too top heavy? Suddenly your Twitter account looks lopsided, and you’re trying to address every concern, idea and question about your brand from various angles. Getting too big for just one Twitter account only means you can make room to give some love to a few seedling special interest pages.

Having special interest pages or multiple Twitter accounts for a brand allows brands to focus on specific consumer and follower needs. Tailoring engagement increases an organization’s abilities to fulfill consumer wants and needs as well as deepens brand fans’ trust, creating a mutually beneficial partnership.

However, multiple twitter accounts is not a one size fits all social strategy. Before you start creating other accounts for your brand, there are some questions you need to answer.

  • What will be the purpose of these other accounts?
  • How many should you create?
  • How do you manage all of these accounts?
  • How do you ensure your accounts adhere to the same brand values and goals while serving unique purposes?

Luckily, we have some insight into how to answer all of these questions…and helpful solutions on what to do about Twitter Tribbles.

What Are Twitter Tribbles?

In case you aren’t a Star Trek fan, Tribbles were cute furry creatures that purred, ate, grew, and multiplied. Although cute, the mass amounts of tribbles did nothing but take up space.

While having a specialty page is an effective way for a brand to communicate with a wider audience and branch out to smaller niche groups, if they are created to simply “be,” they are as useless as a Tribble.

This is exactly what you want to avoid- do not create so many Twitter accounts that you cannot manage them effectively or consistently, otherwise all they will do is take up space.

An example of a “Tribble Twitter account” is @Epson, a company that specializes in imaging, robotics, precision machinery and electronics. Their main account exists solely to retweet messages from their other accounts, making their brand presence on Twitter about as solid as a gelatin mold.

Even beyond the lack of uniqueness to brand accounts, Epson followers don’t know where to go to find specific information regarding their interests. For customer service in the U.S., you could go to @Epson_Store or @EpsonSmallBiz and learn that neither will serve your needs. To learn more about Epson in the media, you can go to @EpsonAmerica, @Epson_America, or @EpsonProImaging for the same information. The @EpsonProImaging page, however, mostly serves the purpose of performing customer service for users, but how would you know this in the first place? The name of the account, and its bio, in no way indicates it being an account for customer support. The lack of direction and maintenance of these accounts does not reflect well upon the brand. Revisiting an earlier analogy, it might be time for Epson to repurpose a few of these branches– or even do some pruning.

Ensuring you have a purpose for each brand account can help you avoid tribble Twitter accounts. Focusing messaging, updating consistently and directing brand fans exactly where to go for which needs will also help you stay organized – so read on!

Why Are Multiple Accounts A Good Idea?

If you think of a brand’s main Twitter account as the trunk of a tree, then its other accounts are branches. Although they grow out from the trunk, each branch maintains its individual purpose, while contributing to the health of the whole brand tree by growing leaves (brand fans) which bolster the strength and well-being of the tree as a whole.

Due to their focused nature, specialty accounts can increase the number of brand fans or even create new ones. Specific needs can be met on a consistent basis without pulling attention away from the brand itself. Branching out can be useful for any brand that has chapters, different locations, departments, representatives or organizations with unique personalities that maintain core values of the brand.

One great example of using multiple accounts for separate locations or chapters is Whole Foods. Those interested in Whole Foods as a brand or basic products can follow @wholefoods. Blog posts, instagram photos of products and articles regarding the company are all posted to this account. However, a Whole Foods shopper  living in in New York City can follow @wholefoodsnyc for a more personalized experience. This account tweets about offers, special events and sales specific to the New York City location.

This locale personalization of accounts keeps the location-specific messages from getting lost among the main brand messaging while providing the chance for those in specific locations to receive desirable and useful information tailored to their needs.

NASA has myriad Twitter accounts – 154, to be exact – that are all separated by purpose. There are three main pages: @NASA, @NASA_Astronauts, @lori_garver (NASA’s deputy administrator) and the rest of the pages are dedicated to their missions, facilities, astronauts, associated organizations, official field centers and more. NASA even created a Wiki page that summarizes each accounts’ purpose, with a follower counter, each active page is up-to-date, has thousands of followers and has the NASA seal of approval; fan pages are excluded from this list.

Customer service is another great reason to create a separate Twitter account. Aside from its main page, @Comcast has two specialty pages: @ComcastCares for customer support and @ComcastVoices which points users to Comcast’s company blog. Other companies, like AT&T, make their customer support initiatives more personalized by creating separate accounts for individual agents with accounts like @ATTTeamTrevorl or @ATTTeamSusan. If you post a concern on @ATTCustomerCare, one of their agents will get back to you and you can see a photo of the agent on call who is addressing your issue.

How Do I Engage the Right Audience for the Right Account?

Sometimes the key to organizing your multiple Twitter accounts so that Twitter users can find them can be as simple as creating a sitemap on your main page.

President Obama has a list of Twitter accounts that support his main brand on his account. Though the list doesn’t link out to the supporter accounts, at the very least you know that they exist and that are officially endorsed by the President.

Follow this example and include links on your site to all of your accounts. Also in your accounts’ Twitter bios, link to one of your other relevant accounts or at least the main brand account. If you are having success driving traffic to one page over another, linking the two pages together can help increase followers for both pages.

Keep your categories simple and make sure their roles are defined and separate. Clarity will help you know what messages are right for each account as well as provide a better picture of an accounts’ purpose to those on Twitter.

Ernst and Young do a great job delineating each of their Twitter accounts’ purposes. Their main account, @EYNews handles their company’s news and leadership, if your interests lie in the financial news overseas in the Eurozone, there’s @EY_Eurozone to feed that need. As a global organization that is focused on the financial and business trends of the world, Ernst & Young have specialty pages that will direct you to their news departments and career centers worldwide. Their social media page has an index that lists all of their pages and the purpose they serve.

What Can I Do to Make Managing These Accounts Easier?

Some companies find it difficult to manage one Twitter account, let alone more.

Have no fear – if organizing your accounts seems to be easier said than done, there are tools for multiple Twitter account management like Nambu and Twhirl, that will allow you to manage multiple accounts from your desktop or laptop.

Splitweet, Tweetbot and TweetLater are also tools that enable you to schedule and update your tweets on multiple accounts as well as sort through replies, reweets and allow you to scour feeds for tweets that talk about topics relating to your brand, so you know who’s tweeting about you and why.

For an easy to use browser add-on that will manage all of your social media networks, we recommend HootSuite. And if you need a handy program that will create bookmarklets and shorten your links so you can  post to pages without using up all of your allotted 140 characters, we say, go with bitly all the way.

If you manage the bulk of your updates and Twitter communication from your smartphone and you have an iPhone, you’re in luck. Tools like Twitterrific, Tweetie, SimplyTweet and LaTwit are easy to use apps that make updating several accounts from one phone possible and, dare we say it, fun! Of course anything that is easy to use, customizable and supports advanced search queries is going to be an enjoyable Twitter management application.

For the non-iPhone users, we have apps for your Twitter management too. Gravity is one Twitter manager we like. Though might cost a bit more than the others, Gravity functions on Android operating systems quite nicely and still offers advanced searches, the ability to update multiple accounts, track replies, messages, and allows you to see timelines in a tabbed view and upload multiple photos.

Building Your Brand via Multiple Accounts

Beyond diversifying messages and solving customer problems, multiple accounts serve the basic purpose of any Twitter account: engagement. Creating new accounts for unique brand purposes can enable you to connect with customers on a deeper level.

Like their coffeehouse empire, @Starbucks and @MyStarbucksIdea are constantly buzzing with conversations between employees and customers. Users actively participate in creating new concepts for the Starbucks brand via Twitter and on their site, because they are engaged in conversations with Starbucks reps who are genuinely interested in what their customers have to say.

Tony Hsieh’s @Zappos account promotes the Zappos brand while also sticking to a more “real and honest” approach. Though they are not updated as often, Hsieh’s tweets are from him, not an assistant or an intern – which can make a difference for customers who want to communicate with a real person who cares about their customers feedback.

If you want to be a Twitter all-star and build your brand’s main page while also building on the strength of your specialty pages, the key is to communicate with your followers often and with messages that hold purpose. Give your followers something to talk about with others and with your brand. Keep the conversation going and build your future social strategy based upon what gives you the best results.

Remember, no matter how many Twitter accounts your brand has, nurturing the social conversation that surrounds it enables your brand acorn to grow into a mighty oak.

  • Mr Link Builder

    Awesome post iACQ!! I know a few people that need some “Digital Meds for their Multiple Twitter Personality Disorder!” I personally am a big fan of TweetDeck. It’s free and owned by Twitter so I feel like it’s one of the more secure services out there. Pretty simple to use and it’s super easy to access all of your interactions on one screen. I had used HootSuite before switching over to TweetDeck, but I’m definitely more in favor of the latter. What is everyone else using? Always open to suggestions for new social tools.