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8 brand personalities Facebook and Twitter users hate

8 brand personalities Facebook and Twitter users hate Kevin Barenblat

Facebook and Twitter have become focal points for marketers who now find themselves diving headfirst into the social marketing waters. Social media is forcing corporate branding to evolve, as brands now create personas, build communities, and develop relationships with people, not just consumers.

Brands are becoming content creators, so much so that the lines between brand and publisher have blurred. However, some social engagement efforts are not as impactful as they could be, as marketers often fall into personality traps. Save yourself and your brand some trouble by avoiding these stereotyped social media personalities when bringing your brand into the conversation.

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The canned responder 

You might be a big brand, but when a user comes to your site with a complaint or a suggestion about customer service in the jewelry department of your store, responding with the same verbiage you used to express your sympathy with someone who had a problem in the shoe department isn't productive. And consumers catch on. Maintaining a social media presence is time consuming. It takes a while to sift through comments and suggestions and replies and posts. However, it's always best to respond as personally as possible -- even if you can't tell them what they want to hear. 

The spammer

Posting throughout the day about a "life-changing green tea" product that will "make me lose 40 pounds in two days" is not a way to build a following. When it comes to Facebook and Twitter, engagement is different from spamming, and integration is different from oversaturation.

Sure, it's fine to post information about your product, what you're selling, or what you want to gain from your Facebook fans or Twitter followers, but don't let that be the only thing you post about. Mix in some fresh ideas. Develop a rapport with your fans or followers. Begin to build that relationship. And when you do, you can easily integrate your product into your feeds in a personal way. Users would be much more inclined to click on your "life-changing green tea" product if you just talked to them about their New Year's resolutions.

The deathly long status updater

There is a reason why Twitter limits updates to 140 characters. That's the approximate attention span of a social media user. And you honestly wonder why your novel-length Facebook status doesn't have any comments? Chances are, they didn't get past the first paragraph before moving on to the next item in their news feed. So, cut the fat and get to the point.

The lurker

Also known as "creepers," these brands sign up for a Facebook or Twitter account and don't do anything with it but "stalk" potential clients. There are no updates, there are no tweets, and there's hardly any (if any) information about the company. They're just there. Silently lurking. And what are they really achieving? Nothing. Yes, they'll accrue some fans or followers, but that's because of the name of the brands, not because they are using social media.

Facebook and Twitter can be valuable market research tools. Brands can learn a lot about their customers from social media conversations. However, standing by the wayside and watching these conversations take place is not the proper way to participate. Show the customers that you're listening, you're there, you're paying attention, and their voices are, in fact, getting heard. That's when the relationship between consumer and brand begins to form.

The press-release republisher

Facebook and Twitter are tools of engagement, not megaphones. Republishing your dry press release just isn't going to cut it. It's important to make sure appropriate people see the press release, but it's equally -- if not more -- important that people can understand why this press release is so great. Try to create some fresh content. Write a few little blurbs or pull some interesting quotes or sentences from the press release. Otherwise, you just end up looking lazy and unoriginal.

The off-site hustler

We get it! Your website "has a lot to offer!" Want to know how we know that? That's all you post about. "Visit this link," "visit that link" -- these prompts aren't engaging if that's all you're telling your fans or followers. Instead, how about capitalizing on the people that are with you on this network? Build promotions or contests within the social medium you're using. Once you get loyal fans or followers, they'll find your site on their own.

The serial retweeter

It seems that these social media brands just feed off of other people's great ideas. Of course, it's OK to recognize someone else's savvy -- but it's even more important to come up with your own ideas (perhaps even ideas that warrant others to retweet you). So, go ahead, retweet something someone said -- but add your own commentary. Build something of your own from what that person provided you with. And don't let retweets consume your stream.

The non-responder

You post a status update, and you're getting lots of feedback. Great! You've officially started generating conversation among your fans or followers. However, when your fans or followers start asking you questions or giving you recommendations (which is what you asked for in the first place), and you're not responding to them -- well, they're just going to stop asking. Or get mad at you for "pretending" to care.

Show followers you really do care by answering their questions and responding to their suggestions. People turn to social media to communicate with brands with which they otherwise may not be able to communicate. This is your chance to build that relationship and transform a one-time customer into a loyal one.

Kevin Barenblat is co-founder and CEO of Context Optional.

On Twitter? Follow iMedia Connection at @iMediaTweet.

Kevin Barenblat is co-founder and CEO of Context Optional, a leading provider of social marketing software and services to global brands and advertising agencies. <br><br><a href="http://www.contextoptional.com/">Context...

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to leave comments.

Commenter: Leslie Cawley

2010, April 16

Kevin, I like your article and I escpecially like the numersous examples of "8 brand personalities" that to be honest, consumers dont' like either. I can point some: the spammer is one that I ignore on a regular basis. Why? They are "too good to be true" as the saying goes and to me they represent scams that just rob the customer of their money and promise nothing in return.
Another example you mentioned was the "press-release" individual who makes no effort to make their idea s original to the customers. Sorry but "new and Improved to me just means you added a few more onces of something or changed the color of the packaging. I can never tell the difference.
The "off-site hustler" is an interesting character. I've seen this person everywhere and they are here on imedia. Just look around at all the links that available to click on and investigate. I'm not saying that they can't be interesting and yes I have been nosy and done just that, but if you expect me or someone to go to another link, make me want to do so. Give me a reason to visit. Spur my curiosity. Come on, you can do it. Just make me, I dare you.

Commenter: Kevin Barenblat

2010, April 15

Thank you all for the comments! I agree with Chris and Lara - those make perfect personalities #9 and #10. :-)

Commenter: Lara Scott

2010, April 13

An excellent article Kevin. Now if only the people who are committing the offenses read it.
I would like to suggest another one.

The Posterous Thief.
Tweets post links with catchy headlines gathered from their RSS feeds without reference to the original content author or source, making it look like their own post idea or article content. Even uses own name in Posterous byline until you scroll the article and discover the 'real' source. Does the same on Facebook Business Fan Page too.
Sends all in quick succession at the beginning of the day after they have trawled their feeds for their "original content" for the day. Credibility 0%

Commenter: Sara Fitzpatrick Comito

2010, April 13

A nice reminder of what should really be common sense. But as newspaper man Horace Greeley said, "Common sense is very uncommon." As true for those of us working in media today as it was for those working in media in the 1800s. Human nature strikes again (or, still)!

Commenter: Brooke Browne

2010, April 13

I total agree with Chris! Those typically are media outlets, and once I did call out one newspaper for doing it and they responded and stopped!
The worst part was that all their rapid fire tweets were about murders and death sentences. Really bummed me out every time I looked at Tweetdeck!

Commenter: Charles Cozzani

2010, April 13

Good points. At least 6 of these sound like what we experience with a popular international coffee brand. Their inability to personalize so they can appeal to everyone is preventing them from connecting with anyone.

Commenter: Chris Chariton

2010, April 13

I'd like to suggest a 9th - the rapid fire tweeter who leaves dozens of posts in succession making me hit the more button to find anything from someone else I am following. Space out your tweets.

Commenter: Jyothi Kammela

2010, April 13

Prudent observations which should adequately caution the wanna be social media activists.

Commenter: Vincent Wright

2010, April 12

I also dislike most of the 8 types you list however, I'm curious as to what you are basing your finding on when you say "8 brand personalities Facebook and Twitter users hate"? Did you survey? Or is it personal observation(s)?