If you’re new to Twitter, you’re probably anxious about getting it right.

Twitter’s a pretty friendly, laid-back place … but one where a single ill-judged tweet has the potential to go viral (in the worst possible way). Of course, you’re very unlikely to get it that wrong – and if you’re worried, check out our “lessons learned” from these seven companies who did – but unless you do Twitter well, it can be tough to get much traction and attention.

We’ve rounded up seven great companies getting it brilliantly right on Twitter, with examples from each one and our tips for you.

#1: Urban Outfitters: being an early adopter gets attention

At the start of 2013, Urban Outfitter was one of the first brands onto Vine, Twitter’s six-second video service (within 24 hours of its launch, they’d created two Vines). They got a lot of attention as a result – being featured on Mashable, for instance.

UrbanOutfitters-500

Lessons learned:

  • Being an early adopter can get attention. If there’s a cool new app or feature out (on Twitter or on any social network you’re using), why not jump in straight away? Even if you don’t create anything very impressive – Urban Outfitters Vines were nothing to write home about – you’ll get noticed simply by being first.
  • Have an easy approval process for new social media content. This is a lesson we’ll see repeated in a moment: being able to create content quickly and publish it without a drawn-out approval process really is essential on social media.

#2: Several brands: going with the flow on Twitter

In this weird and wonderful conversation, several big brands got involved – boosting the profile and reputation of them all. The conversation got featured on many popular sites (such as BuzzFeed), hugely amplifying these brands’ reach beyond their own followers who’d happened to be online at the time.

It all started as a chatty conversation between @TescoMobile and one of their (proud) users – but quickly, the brands involved also included @YorkshireTea, @RealJaffaCakes, @CadburyUK, and @PhileasFogg.

tesco-mobile

Image from BuzzFeed.

You can read the whole thing here.

Lessons learned:

  • Monitor Twitter for mentions of your brand … and other brands related to yours. As you can see above, Yorkshire Tea were clearly alert to any mention of their name (Riccardo didn’t include @YorkshireTea in his first tweet mentioning them). And Phileas Fogg, for instance, got involved as soon as @walkers_crisps were mentioned.
  • Go with the flow. If you spot a good excuse to join in a fun conversation, go ahead! Most Twitter users will be delighted to be noticed by a big brand. Be human, chatty, and friendly, and have fun.

#3: Oreo: reacting to the Super Bowl blackout

We featured Oreo last year in our post 6 Awesome Social Media Wins … And What You Can Learn From Them. As a brand, they’re consistently doing social media well, and creating some great content not just with preplanning but on the spur of the moment.

Here’s their tweet from the 2013 Super Bowl, when the power went out in the Superdome for 34 minutes:

oreo-cookies-500

Lessons learned:

  • Again, make it easy to get content out there. During a major event, make sure you’ve got content creators at the ready to respond to what happens … and ensure they can get any approval that they need within minutes.
  • Have a sense of humour and be positive. Although plenty of individuals use social media as a place to vent or rant, as a brand, you want to stay upbeat. Raising a smile or winning a laugh often means you’ll also get a retweet.

#4: Argos: talking the customer’s language

This is an example of a slightly riskier tweet … but one which paid off. Argos were contacted by a rather disgruntled customer who wrote:

immy-argos-smaller

The “ArgosHelpers” responded brilliantly:

argos-tweet

While there’s a risk this could’ve been seen as patronising or mocking by the customer, the social media team clearly hit the right tone. Immy “Badman” Bugti wrote back approvingly: “respect. Sick guy” – and the conversation was picked up by mainstream media, like Metro and the DailyMail.

Lessons learned:

  • Respond to your customers using their language. Whether it’s street slang or “lolcat”, talking like they do can definitely endear you to them (though do make sure you can do it well, as Argos did).
  • Address customer’s queries promptly. The Argos reply took about an hour (though since the first tweet was sent at 7.24am, that’s definitely a reasonable timeframe). You should definitely aim to get back to people the same day – and like Argos, make sure you answer their question and at least acknowledge any complaints.

#5: Taco Bell and Old Spice: interacting with other brands

Both Taco Bell and Old Spice have great followings on Twitter and a reputation for being funny … so it’s no surprise that they’ve interacted with one another on Twitter. Taco Bell started the “fight”:

old-spice-taco-bell

Image from Business Insider.

Lessons learned:

  • Have a sense of humour. We’ve mentioned this one already, but it really is important. Twitter is a great place to have fun – and being a bit silly, or zany can work really well. Even if your brand is pretty staid and professional, you can still be friendly and light-hearted.
  • Interact with other brands. You might get more attention that way (from their followers as well as your own) – though note that if you use their @name at the very start of your tweet, only people who follow both of you will see the tweet.

#6: Sainsbury’s: responding to a customer complaint

Comedian October Jones had a rather sub-par chicken sandwich from Sainsbury’s and wrote a tongue-in-cheek complaint on Twitter. They responded:

sainsburys-october-jones

Image from Mashable.

Lessons learned:

  • Apologise when something goes wrong. While humour is great, you still need to acknowledge that customers have a genuine complaint. Sainsbury’s start their tweet here with “really sorry it wasn’t up to scratch”.
  • Watch out for references to your company name. Not every Twitter users will use your @name … so make sure you’ve got a search column in HootSuite (or whatever social media management tool you’re using) to look out for customers talking about you.

#7: O2: staying calm under fire

Bad language warning.

When you’re managing a social media account, a particularly tough situation is when a customer gets angry and abusive. You know you absolutely mustn’t respond in kind – but ignoring the tweet isn’t always an option either.

Here’s how O2 handled this situation:

o2-response

Image adapted from Buzzfeed.

Lessons learned:

  • Stay calm. If you do find yourself tempted to snap back at a customer (or potential customer), then step away from the keyboard. It’s much better to send a slightly slow response than an aggressive, rude one.
  • But … don’t be afraid to show a little attitude. This funny, slightly sassy, tweet from O2 got a good number of retweets and quite a bit of attention. This is definitely another case of proceed with caution: there could be a fine line between “amusing” and “inflammatory”, especially if a customer has a genuine complaint.

 

Did any of these examples inspire you? Or do you have another great example of brands getting it right on social media? Drop a comment below to tell us.