Striking the right tone and finding your brand’s voice on Twitter requires understanding the expectations of your audience and having a firm grip on your organization's identity and purpose. Twitter remains a writing platform, and it takes practice and consistent engagement to find your brand's groove and proper voice.
Megan Maisel, director of integrated media communications at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and speaker at PR News’ Writing Boot Camp in San Francisco on Feb. 4, shared her thoughts on Twitter and explained her organization’s unique approach to social media.
PR News: What's an example of a great tweet that you've seen recently?
Megan Maisel: I’m not into football and I don’t know these players, but this tweet on Dec. 18 from the Houston Texans (@HoustonTexans) was intriguing and fun, and I was forced to click: “@CMyers55 talks his mohawk days, @benjones60’s shocking locker room antics & more.” It was straightforward, entertaining and humanistic, and had a good photo to go along with it.
Also, @BuzzFeed is great at teasing its content on Twitter (and Facebook).
PR News: How do organizations that deal with serious subjects (like the MD Anderson Cancer Center) strategize for Twitter differently?
Megan Maisel: When developing social media strategy, groups should first identify and understand their audience. That informs the approach to content. For example, cancer patients, caregivers and healthcare professionals look to us to provide support, encouragement and expertise. We can have a sense of humor when it’s appropriate, but it doesn’t work for us to use emoticons or to be snarky.
PR News: What are your recommendations for using hashtags on Twitter and other platforms?
Megan Maisel: Hashtags are beneficial for search and community. They help tie content together. For example, we use #endcancer on Twitter as well as our other social media channels. It clearly states MD Anderson’s mission and brings together people and organizations with that same goal. It spurs interaction. I think hashtag use will increase for other social media platforms as users become better informed about what they are. I also enjoy the occasional comedic use of hashtags. They’re part of pop culture.
PR News: What's your least favorite thing to see on Twitter?
Megan Maisel: There are a couple of things that I see brands do on Twitter that I think can be off-putting to fans. One, I continue to see organizations that auto-tweet from Facebook posts. I understand the need to be efficient, but it’s frustrating to Twitter users when they have to log in to Facebook to read content. I think tweets must be specifically written for a Twitter audience.
The second is when brands (or people) only retweet what others say about them, as opposed to interacting and/or sharing original content.
Follow Megan Maisel: @MDAndersonNews
Follow Brian Greene: @bwilliamgreene