Ahhhh Twitter— birthplace of hashtags, home to the world’s wittiest short-form content—what would we do without you? Hatched in 2006, the little blue bird has become emblematic of a virtual space where everyday people share ideas, start discussions, and access information instantly. The social networking site has changed the way we communicate and has become a power platform for businesses—businesses that know how to use it that is. Early on, a few brands realized that in order to be accepted into the Twittersphere, they couldn’t use a promotional, omniscient brand voice. Instead, they needed to sound like just another Twitter user. And thus, the Twitter Mascot was born.
Twitter Mascots aren’t the fuzzy creatures of football games, but corporate accounts with distinct human personalities, and they’ve made brands like Mr. Clean, Denny’s, Wendy’s and Casper wildly popular online. With their offbeat tweets about all things breakfast, Denny’s has earned some of the highest engagement rates of brands on Twitter without paid promotion. Wendy’s—whose Twitter Mascot is sassy and sarcastic—has sparked an endless amount of online articles with their infamous clap back tweets. Progressive’s Twitter Mascot—the spunky Flo from Progressive—has helped the company pull ahead of the competition by positioning them as fun and personable. If done right, the Twitter Mascot tactic can pay off in a major way. So, what’s the strategy behind this wacky approach to content marketing?
Twitter mascots are all about striking up conversations with people who don’t usually interact with brands. Your Joe Blow Twitter user may not want to talk to a nameless PR representative from Progressive but could spend all day chatting with fun, funky Flo. A study by social media data tracking company Synthesio actually found that branded content shared by Twitter Mascots creates more buzz than branded content shared by celebrity endorsers. Take Wendy’s for example. When Carter, your average chicken nugget-loving teen, tweeted them asking how many retweets it would take for him to get a year’s supply of nuggs, the brand was quick to reply with a sassy “18 million.” This was an impossible ask seeing as the most retweeted tweet of all time—Ellen’s Oscar selfie—only had 3.4 million retweets. The interaction quickly picked up steam and soon #nugssforcarter was trending on Twitter. Major brands like Microsoft and big-time celebrities like Bradley Cooper chimed in, and Carter’s tweet quickly broke the record for most retweeted tweet of all time. Carter ended up getting a year’s worth of free nuggets, and Wendy’s ended up turning a casual twitter conversation into a major marketing campaign. That’s what we call a win-win.
Creating Your Own Mascot
If you’re thinking of conjuring up a quirky character to run your brand’s Twitter account, there are two things you’ll need to nail. First, voice. A Twitter Mascot is essentially just a branded account with a voice so human and so distinct, it sounds like an individual character. Brands with successful Twitter Mascots create characters with unique voices and use those voices consistently, whether they’re commenting on a cultural event or replying to a customer service query. This can be intimidating for companies with strict policies around social posting, but the risk is worth the reward. Casper—a Toronto-based mattress company—brought in $30 million in sales their first full year of business on a shoestring marketing budget with the help of their entertaining Twitter Mascot Casper the Tweeting Mattress.
The second thing you’ll need to master is the art of a streamlined content approval process. Trending topics, breaking news stories, hot hashtags—Twitter is all about what’s happening right now, and it’s hard to be on the cutting edge of internet culture if your tweets take two weeks to be approved. Pre-scheduled posts can still be part of a successful Twitter strategy, but great Twitter Mascots react to things blowing up in the Twittersphere in real-time. Arby’s hit the nail on the head during the 2014 Grammy’s with their tweet about Pharrell’s hat.
Customer interactions need to be just as quick. Sixty percent of Twitter users expect brands to answer their questions within one hour, which means having someone ready to fire off replies in the Twitter Mascot voice at all times. A team that can think on their feet is key to a successful Twitter Mascot strategy.
Now go forth and join the ranks of Casper the Tweeting Mattress, Mr. Clean, Denny’s and more with your own Twitter Mascot. A little blue bird told us it’s a great way to bolster your social media strategy.