Follow a fashionable brand on Twitter and you may learn of exclusive deals and new merchandise — or you may simply find your Twitter feed filled with minutiae on topics of, shall we say, questionable importance. Bergdorf Goodman couldn’t get the printer to work. Neiman Marcus is “completely over-layered today, thanks to 40-80 degree forecast.” Topshop just wants to say that “you know those days when you just really really enjoy your lunch? Having one of them right now…”
For brands, Twitter is a vehicle of self-expression, a platform for brand awareness, and a means for dispensing basic retail news (sales, new products, etc). The question, of course, is how brands choose to use this valuable (but easily-overused) tool.
Some brands are rocking on Twitter — accruing thousands of followers, offering smart, up-to-date news and commentary, and generally offering consumers a deeper experience. But others, not so much. Case in point:
Perhaps someone truly obsessed with Topshop or Bergdorfs is happy to read anything these stores tweet — but we can’t convince ourselves that Bergdorf’s 41,720 followers or Topshop’s 136,485 followers really want this content in their feeds. If anything, tweets about cookies in the conference room or the terrible office coffee serve to demystify what are otherwise elite brands — it seems less glamorous to imagine a Bergdorfs with lousy printers.
When brands use Twitter and use it well, they go off-topic in clever but relevant ways. Take, for instance, Marc Jacob’s search for a social media guru on Twitter. And then there’s Bluefly, whose extensive Twitter feed is a balanced blend of deals, contests, celebrities sporting items available on Bluefly, and tons of back-and-forth with the brand’s followers. While a little on the esoteric side, that last item still works — directing some personal attention at fellow tweeters reels in the brand loyalty.
Of course, certain brands have effectively mashed up the business and personal. Diane von Furstenberg’s feed works as both a vehicle for her brand and a fun look at her personal life. The difference between the two sides is made clear — when von Furstenberg (or her social media guru) tweets that she saw Justin Bieber’s movie, it’s signed “love Diane.” For everything else, there is no signature. A DVF follower gets news, pictures of celebrities wearing DVF clothing, and a curated peek at what’s happening with DVF herself on any given day.
This Twitter strategy works because part of DVF’s marketing is keeping von Furstenberg’s own image synonymous with her brand. Someone tweeting for a department store isn’t at all synonymous with the department store. So do these tweeters have a misconception of what’s appealing? Or do they not know how to use social media? Granted, Twitter is so vast, perhaps the commitment to minutiae is just a misstep, boiling down to nothing more than information overload.