Twylah Co-Founder Kelly Kim’s Twitter Tips: Why You Must Give to Receive
Last week, Twylah co-Founder Eric Kim filled our readers in on the many ways his tool helps brands take Twitter to the next level by aggregating tweets on customized brand pages. Presiding over his company’s own tweeting is the other half of the Twylah equation, co-Founder Kelly Kim.
An industry thought-leader, Kelly has witnessed the trials and errors of many brands in the space including her own and believes there is a simple cure. Before doing anything on Twitter, brands must first define themselves and align their organizational mission with their Twitter strategy. She offered us her veteran expertise on what brands large and small can do to make their tweets both authentic and engaging. We spoke with Kelly Kim via phone. (The interview has been edited for length and clarity.)
STR: Kelly, thanks for taking time away from your busy schedule to speak with us today. What are some common mistakes brands make on Twitter and ways they can better engage with their followers?
KK: The first thing I believe brands might consider is to have a face attached to their Twitter account. I understand this may not be easy and there are logistics around it (for instance, if a worker leaves the company then you need to have a plan in place). But in general, I think more brands might consider showing who is staffing their account. If you look at the Pandora account, for example, you see that Pandora isn’t just a company or logo. They have an actual person who is the face of Pandora that people can engage with as a human being.
We didn’t do that at first with our Twylah Twitter account. Personally, I don’t want to follow a logo or nameless company so I wondered why I was doing just that with my own company. Eric (Kim) and I agreed that I would be the face of Twylah as ‘Kelly Kim’. People know exactly who I am and exactly who they are talking to when they tweet Twylah. Brands should consider making their Twitter account human by associating a staff member to it… but only if they want to be perceived as engaging and approachable.
Another huge mistake I see across the board is to hire an intern or someone young and knowledgeable that is not really in touch with the most authentic mission of the company. Often, companies hire them because they understand social media- they’ve been using it much of their lives by now- but they don’t necessarily know the type of content that resonates with the brand’s followers or its mission.
STR: Brands know that the more eyes follow their Twitter feed, the more influence they exert, so much is done to gain more followers. Can brands leverage social media effectively even if their followership isn’t as large as they would like?
KK: Without question! Of course, followership is absolutely a positive indicator of social media influence but at the same time it’s possible to have a high number of followers and very low engagement. So brands have to ask themselves what they really want. Do they really want followers or do they want to engage with people? Anyone, including local Mom and Pop stores, can follow community members or others interested in what they’re doing and be highly effective by starting small, engaging and working up to a bigger followership.
STR: Is there an effective way to ensure you are engaging with followers?
KK: The main way to get engagement is to give engagement! Reach out and say hello. When people mention me or Twylah, I reach out to them! I often Retweet them, but I also say hello and ask how they are doing.
STR: Twylah puts brands and power users in control of their Tweets by organizing them into their own catching landing page with strong SEO features and many others. Do you have other favorite Twitter tools in your arsenal to stay on top of things?
KK: This is my dirty little secret that I’ll share... I’m not a tools person! I’ve been asked to host a Twitter Chat on Wednesday nights which can be followed using the hashtag #ToolsChat (also @ToolsChat), but I really just use what works for me. I use Twylah, Twitter and Buffer App. For me, I can load up tweets into Buffer App, it feels authentic and I’m not bombarding my followers with one tweet after another. There is certainly no one-size-fits-all. Everyone has their own goals but these are the tools that I personally use.
STR: Speaking of Twitter chats, who should be hosting their own chat sessions? Is this a good opportunity for brands to shine and engage with a broader community?
KK: This is a fantastic question that we could have an entirely separate conversation about. If you are a brand with a community, you can host a chat. You have to first articulate your brand’s essence- who you are and why you provide what you do. Then choose a theme for your chat that resonates with your messaging and your community. Really, Twitter Chats can be treated much like you would treat a seminar series at your brand HQ. It’s a fantastic way to get people together and capture those people at a certain place and time. And it’s especially great for nonprofits and advocacy groups.
STR: What things should a host consider and have in place prior to hosting a Twitter chat?
KK: That depends on your personality and the brand. If you want a good showing, you could consider doing your due diligence – reach out to your community members and leaders to see possible topics and their scheduling availability to participate. Conversely, you can just wing it… people do that often! As an example, my friend and I were having a hard time pulling ourselves away from Twitter one night to go to sleep. We came up with a fun hashtag (#ATAChat #TwitterAddicts) that wasn’t serious at all but a few days later, suddenly we had a bunch of tweets in our chat stream from people saying ‘Yes! I’m a twitter addict too!’
STR: Social media has proven to be the catalyst for many grassroots initiatives that leverage it for crowd-sourcing, volunteering, messaging and more. Are there key differentiators when it comes to engaging people online for advocacy versus for brand sales?
KK: The basics remain the same. Ultimately, it all comes down to this question: ‘What are you about and what is your mission?’ Advocacy groups and grassroots efforts have something of an advantage over many brands in this regard because they know why they do what they do- they just need to communicate it. Brands don’t always know and that’s a problem. You need to know the mission beyond fulfilling a specific task. Social media requires having the essence and personality of a brand or organization and then defining your strategy around it.
STR: Kelly, it’s been a pleasure following your tweets and speaking with you today. Thanks for taking the time to give us your Twitter tips.
KK: Thank you!
Check out more interviews at Social Technology Review Interview Series.