My name is Saul! I'm an award winning Word of Mouth Marketer, Professional Speaker on the subjects of Social Media, Customer Service and best of all... Word of Mouth. I collect Air Force One sneakers and think you should hire me... (as a consultant) to teach you how to get your company doing interesting things!
the smartest man in the world.

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Photos from the Drupal Conference in San Francisco, CA 2010

Friday, Mar 03, 2009

Memories of SXSWi 2009 Part One – Twitter Personalities and why my opinion differs from C.C. Chapman

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The following series of posts are going to be thoughts and opinions that came from conversations I had or overheard while at SXSWi. I thought this would be a lot more interesting than sharing my adventures because at least with these posts you will learn more that the fact (notice I say fact) that I am a handsome guy and a sharp dresser 🙂

I had so many amazing highlights (some for public consumption and some not) from this years festival and the largest one (that I can talk about) was participating on a panel with C.C. Chapman, Dave Delaney, Loic Le Meur, and Chris Brogan. The panel was about building online brands but was nicknamed the “Cake Panel” since I brought a huge cake to share with as many folks who showed up as possible.

(If you missed the panel you can read about 40 pages of Twitter comments and a transcript here)

During the panel a question was asked about if Companies should only twitter as a company or is it OK to let people know who the person behind the company Twitter account really is.

Seeing as I am one of the main people who respond to the FreshBooks (@rlangdon being the other with a few guest appearances from @sunir) I jumped all over this question and said I think companies should ABSOLUTELY insist that not only should their twitter streams have personality but it should also have personalities. I always appreciate when I know who I am talking to and that they are a real person and not just a brand…in fact I think this makes for stronger voices and brands.

My panel mate, C.C. Chapman (who I have a world of respect for and even though we disagree on this I am not saying his opinion is wrong…well I did in the title) took the opposing position and said (paraphrasing here) “That is all OK as long as the personality never leaves the company” and used the example of Scott Monty and his current role at Ford and what it would mean to that brand should he leave.

C.C. is correct that anytime a personality leaves it will have an effect or a ripple through their community but I don’t think it needs to be a negative one. Staying with the Scott Monty example (and as far as I know Scott is not going anywhere so this is purely hypothetical and an attempt to get some google juice off his name) should Scott decide in a few month to accept a position as the Social Media Czar at Victoria’s Secret the immediate reaction from the people that follow Scott would be:

1- to congratulate him and wish him well (causing a fair amount of attention for both Ford and Victoria’s Secret, Not to mention Scott himself)

2- pay closer attention to Victoria’s Secret to see what Scott does in his first few months.

3- continue to pay attention to Ford to see how they move forward.

So in my estimation allowing the folks who guard your Twitter brand become personalities themselves works the same way fame (however little) works in other worlds. It is all about connection and if you happen to lose one of your personalities you shouldn’t look at it as defeat but rather an interesting opportunity because in the short term you will have increased eye balls wondering who will be the next velvety voiced Scott Monty.

Use the opportunity to continue to be interesting and helpful, since that is all people ask from an online personality anyway.

Would love to hear your thoughts on this!

  1. I agree with you. I want to deal with people, not faceless “brands”. Everyone knows that people change jobs. What’s the big deal? It’s ridiculous to try to keep up a facade of uniformity behind some brand id.
    All that would do is alienate me. Please, let’s keep the “social” in social media.

  2. Saul – I LOVE the cake panel idea. Wish I’d been there!

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