Why you can’t fake it on Twitter
A couple of years ago, I was asked for input on the management of a CEO’s Twitter account. It had been noted that his opposite number at a rival company had built a strong following to whom he promoted his company’s work – clearly an audience existed. So, he asked, how could this model be copied? How could Twitter be used to promote himself and the work of his firm? An excellent question, followed by a not so excellent suggestion: create a small team of representatives across the business to feed items of interest to the channel and even write entire tweets.
As predicted, this strategy failed. The project buried beneath ‘items of greater importance’. Perhaps a convenient excuse.
Why did this fail? Why couldn’t the team fake it on Twitter?
Essentially, the CEO was asking the team to craft and maintain an online persona for him. His tone, his interests, even his frequency of tweets had to be decided upon and adhered to. It would have required a disproportionately large amount of effort to create a Twitter ‘character’ compelling enough to gain interested and relevant followers. Ultimately, due to a lack of time and resources, not enough effort was made and the character was never compelling enough.
This entire strategy demonstrated a clear lack of understanding of Twitter. While any Twitter account can be faked, a successful account can’t.
As an individual on Twitter, you’re representing your inherent character: interest, thoughts, reflections, ideas, and possibly some selfies. These are personal to you and what is more they are the things that attract followers. They can’t be created, crafted, or faked and gain the number of relevant followers you’re seeking. A crafted character weakens the incentive to follow and engage.
Furthermore, Twitter suits certain personality types. The success of the competitor’s CEO on Twitter was due to the extroverted nature of the individual: he was keen for people to know what he was thinking, keen to share what he was reading, and – most importantly – keen to engage with his audience. Anyone lacking a certain amount of extroversion is always going to struggle to post with the necessary regularity and personality that followers enjoy.
Ultimately, Twitter requires a hefty dose of genuine personality and character. This can be learnt, but it can’t be faked. Any attempt at doing so reduces the effectiveness of Twitter and has the possibility of damaging the brand of the company and the individual it’s trying to promote.