“You’re boring. That’s why people are ignoring you.”
— Seth Godin, marketing guru
If you’re at all familiar with Twitter, then you know its users have struggled with one basic problem ever since the service was launched: mundane and trivial tweets. Things have improved recently, and now it’s much less common to hear someone tweet about how much cheese they ate at lunch or how long the line was at Starbucks this morning. Seriously…Who cares?
“Please tell all the credit unions trying out Twitter: If every tweet you post is an ad or a marketing piece, YOU’RE DOIN’ IT WRONG.”
— Comment from Purina Credit Union on Twitter
But you still see financial institutions talk about dull and boring things all the time. Take a look at the list below and you’ll probably see many familiar-looking tweets. While none were directly copied-and-pasted from Twitter (all of them are fictional), they are similar to the tweets sent by more than just one or two financial institutions.
If there’s one thing anyone on Twitter — anyone, not just financial institutions — should keep in mind when crafting their tweets, it is to:
All of us are starved for time. No one wants to waste their life sifting through mountains of worthless crap trying to unearth the occasional peanut. That’s why when people scan their incoming tweets, they are looking for:
- something with personal relevance
- something entertaining
- something that gives them insight or advice
- something with value
- something that helps them, or solves a problem
If your tweets don’t meet one or more of these criteria, they won’t get read, you won’t get retweeted (only 1.4% of all tweets are interesting enough to share with others), and people will swiftly move on to the next item in their list.
#1 – “New to Twitter. Trying to figure this out.”
This tweet isn’t necessary, nor is its immediate offspring: “Trying to find people to follow.” While these tweets may be honest, transparent and personal, anyone stopping by will assume you’re a clueless marketer who must have just read some article about Twitter. If you need to “figure Twitter out,” do it with a personal experimental account before activating your corporate account. You should know what you’re going to tweet before you get started.
#2 – “Check out our rates at www.acmebank.com.”
Many on Twitter would say this is spam. Even if it isn’t, there is nothing special or noteworthy about the information provided. You are a financial institution — of course you have a website… and rates. So what? A special, limited-time offer may be something interesting or of value, but your average, everyday rates are not.
#3 – “Go green. Sign up for e-statements!”
Despite being “eco-conscious,” this tweet is still borderline spammy. You are asking people to sign up for one of your services, which basically makes it an ad. Instead of telling prospects what they should do, talk about what your customers have done/saved/accomplished: “Just sent out our 1 millionth e-statement. That’s 80 trees saved so far and counting. Every bit helps!”
#4 – “Acme Bank – The Friendly, Personal Place to Bank!”
Why would anyone care to hear your slogan? This kind of tweet doesn’t help anyone. It isn’t entertaining. It doesn’t solve any problem. It isn’t conversational or personal. It’s mono-directional marketing, nothing more.
#5 – “We’re thinking about ways to better serve you.”
Great… Get back to us when you’ve come up with something. (This flavor of tweet pops up more than you might think.)
#6 – “Become a fan at our Facebook page http://facebook.com”
Why? What value is there in doing so? What can someone do, find or accomplish there? If you’re not saying anything interesting on Twitter, why would anyone double-down by friending you at Facebook too?
#7 – “Stop by and say hi to the staff at Acme Bank’s Springfield branch: 234 Main Street, Springfield, MA 01103”
There are way too many tweets from financial institutions that give people information they could easily find on their own. If someone on Twitter wants to find your branch locations, they can probably do it within three clicks: one click to your Twitter profile, one click to your website, one click to your locations.
#8 – “Good morning everyone!”
This is certainly polite, but it’s not interesting, entertaining or valuable. It’s fluff, space filler. How can you tell people don’t care about this kind of tweet? Because no one ever says “good morning” back. If you’re going to bother saying “good morning,” why not make it interesting? “Happy Thursday to all of you. FM radio made its debut on this day 74 years ago, and golfer Geoff Ogilvy turns 32 http://bit.ly/1065TR“
#9 – “Can you believe this rain today?”
Dump all the small talk on Twitter. With dozens (or hundreds) of inbound tweets, most people don’t have time for lite conversation. As a rule of thumb, you shouldn’t tweet about the weather. The same thing goes for a tweets like, “Traffic was brutal today.” It’s more small talk. If you insist on talking about things like the weather, avoid stating the obvious. If it’s raining, people can probably figure that out for themselves. Tell people something they don’t know already: “Today is the 12th straight day of rain in Seattle. The record is 33 days, back in 1953 http://bit.ly/1ZnNN,” or “Don’t forget: Road work on I-5 in Seattle tomorrow between 9A-5P. Traffic will be bad, so try to leave early.”
#10 – “Starting a blog. What should it be about? Need suggestions.”
This sounds like market research, but really it’s a cop-out. If you don’t know what your blog should be about, then you probably don’t know what you’re trying to accomplish on Twitter either. There is a time and place to “engage your audience” and request suggestions, but handing over your social media strategy to the general public isn’t a good idea. If you know what your brand stands for, you should have all the answers you need already.
- Focus on the quality of what you’re tweeting, not the quantity. If you don’t have anything interesting to tweet, don’t feel obligated to put something out there, especially something dull.
- You have to provide useful information in a manner that’s interesting. This takes time, research and is harder than it sounds.
- Just like at a cocktail party, no one wants to listen to someone who only talks about themselves.
- Just because you can force something to be more interesting doesn’t mean you should. Sure you can add a contest or trivia fact to any tweet about anything, but no one wants to see Twitter devolve into a slideshow of pre-movie theater ads.
- Just because you have information to share doesn’t mean others will find it interesting. Just because you have something to say does not mean you should say it, nor that others want to hear it.
- Audit your own tweet stream frequently. Take a look at your last 20 tweets and ask yourself, “Are these really interesting? Would I want to follow this?” Be honest.