Brands love tweeting each other. Marketing manager and blogger Alex Myers asks – is this ‘great marketing’, or are we just talking to ourselves?

I’ve got a confession to make.

There’s a modern marketing phenomena that I really don’t understand. Well, I say ‘marketing phenomena’… actually, we’ll get to that.

Every day when I log onto LinkedIn, I’m confronted with posts saying ‘Unbelievable marketing’, ‘This social team smashed it’, ‘They have THE best marketing at the moment’. What are they talking about?

A screenshot, usually, of a tweet that brand has done.

But it’s not just a tweet. It’s almost always either a screenshot of a series of tweets between brands, or it’s the sort of tweet you’d expect any teenager to do – but it’s from an international burger joint. You know what I mean.

I’m filling this wonderful page this month in an attempt to convince you, yes you, that this almost always isn’t ‘good’ marketing. In fact, it’s not really marketing at all.

It’s widely understood that tone of voice (TOV) is crucial in marketing. Along with colour, it’s an incredible method of creating recall and salience without even having to mention your brand name. The brands that do it well enjoy an incredible hold over their customers’ minds and also deliver more effective advertising because of the recognition that their approach to written communication has earned.

This current trend completely ignores this… Sure, there are some brands whose TOV is cheeky. Or youthful. Maybe even controversial. But in 99 per cent of the cases I see, that is not the case. A team of very talented marketers have created the brand (TOV included) to be a very specific way… and I will bet the price of a discount burger that it is not the way it behaves on Twitter.

Although TOV shouldn’t be flexible persay, there is slight variance depending on the channel. But an optician’s joke-flirting with an airline is not accounted for in this.

Okay, it’s funny. But how can we call it ‘great marketing’?

By putting out endless one-liners that are in no way linked to the brand, the product, or the tone of voice, you’re doing absolutely nothing to develop the brand. Most people don’t expect channels like Twitter to have a direct link to short term sales, but surely we can agree there’s brand building potential?

And how can you ‘build a brand’ by tweeting things that are completely unrelated to that brand? Before you ask, I’m not advocating ‘corporate speak’ – I get that being down to earth is more suitable in a lot of organic scenarios. But I refuse to believe there is no middle ground between corporate speak, and making night-out plans with a detergent provider.

The other crucial reason it shouldn’t be called great marketing, is that the only people who think that are… you guessed it – marketers. Our industry has a problem with mirrors. In that, they’re our favourite places to look for feedback.

‘Best campaign in the world’, says an agency about another agency’s work, which has been featured in over five agency magazines. It didn’t lead to any sales, mind.

This trend is another example of that – marketers talking to other marketers about what they think is great, whilst real people (known as consumers) continue to fully ignore it. Okay, maybe they liked one in ten of the tweets discussed. They still hate their products.

Yes, a distinct tone of voice still has a place. Yes, I think corporate speak is bad in most scenarios. But the lesson here is that it depends on your brand – and if that brand means tweets like these are spot on, then go for it. But in 99 per cent of the LinkedIn screenshots I see, they really aren’t – and that’s not good marketing.