Twitter takes responsibility for brand voice

Sarah Homewood
By Sarah Homewood | 24 April 2015

Last week has proved more than most that social media is a dangerous place for brands. Woolworths has come under fire for its Anzac Day campaign and Mortein was criticised for joining the conversation around murdered school teacher Stephanie Scott.

On any given week there is a brand taking a misstep on social, and Twitter’s managing director of global brand and agency strategy, Jean-Philippe Maheu, told AdNews that with the rise of real-time marketing it is Twitter’s responsibility to ensure brands using the platform are doing so in the right way.

“If brands have a role in society they should join the conversation ... and they should do so at the right time, in the right tone of voice,” Maheu said.

“Once in a while we see opportunities that were missed or something that didn’t go the right way – where the brand didn’t have the permission, or the tone of voice was wrong – and our role at Twitter is to educate those brands about what are the best practices and to help them develop a tone of voice for social channels and Twitter especially.

“With newer clients our rule is to educate them about what is the right brand voice,” he said.

In the three years Maheu has been at Twitter, one of the major changes has been the uptake of paid advertising on the platform by major brands and the shift from using it as a customer service and sentiment-monitoring platform.

However, despite its growing portion of advertising revenues, social media still commands far less than other channels, with observers such as Mark Ritson, associate professor of marketing and branding at Melbourne Business School, questioning whether the medium deserves the attention of marketers and such a high share of voice.

The criticism doesn’t phase Maheu though. “As an emerging platform these things can happen. TV is an amazing medium to create awareness and to drive conversations … the challenge for TV is it creates the conversation – but it’s not a two-way conversation, that conversation is happening on social.”

This story appeared in the latest issue of AdNews (17 April). Subscribe to AdNews in Print, or get it now on iPad.

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