About you, but not to you: When should companies reply on Twitter?

People like to complain a lot about the goods and services we receive, and in the digital age, a lot of those wahs end up online, in public forums like Twitter.

I’ve always operated on an instinctive basis: If I’m @mentioning a company specifically, I want a resolution, I need help, or I’d like an answer. If I don’t @mention them, I’m having a whinge and I want to be left alone. If they see it, I don’t want to talk to them about it. (Unless they’re giving me a huge freebie, but that’s another story.) Yes, I’m your typical passive-aggressive, find-it-difficult-to-give-negative-feedback kind of person. (As a funny aside, I’d expect a small business or person to call me out because it feels so much more personal!)

This morning was one of those complainy occasions. I tweeted my displeasure at a service I had received from a company I liked. I didn’t @ the company because I didn’t want a reply – more just to warn my mates off this particular service.

Good ole Dan didn’t know this. He replied to my tweet and PUT THE COMPANY HANDLE IN, which essentially was inviting them to TALK TO ME ABOUT IT.

Okay. Um. Okay.

The ensuing debate lead to me sending these tweets out.

I got a lot of replies.

Some agreed with me:
“That’s how I use Twitter – can’t think of a time where the company has responded without me mentioning them, but it sounds creepy.” – Simon
“sometimes you just want to talk shit about a brand and don’t want their ‘i’m sorry to hear that'” – Lena
“it gets me by surprise and I kinda feel caught out” – Akexis
“I know one nz business who clearly searches for their name regularly and replies to people who weren’t after a response. comes across as a bit intense for my liking.” – Kim
“it kinda freaks me out when they do. If I wanted to make a complaint and get their attention, I would.” – Chelle
“general whinging? Leave ppl to it.” – K
“if I don’t @ them, they are welcome to reply if they have an actual solution to my issue… otherwise they’ll just piss me off.” – Alison
“If I don’t @ them, that means I don’t want to engage. If I did want to engage, I’d prob use email or phone.” – Moodle
“sometimes I DO just want to rant uninterrupted lol so I wouldn’t @ ’em, maybe even spell their name a tad diff.” – Mata

Some sat on the fence:
“Depends on why they’re contacting me.” – Miche
“Depends on my mood.” – Eric
“Agree, but feel if they respond they’re actually being proactive which is smart, if a little creepy. Social’s changed feedback” – Darren
“I pretty much agree with this, but sometimes also you don’t @ them because you can’t find their details. So if they then reply that’s quite good. I think the reality is you tweet, it’s public, unless your acc is locked. So you gotta accept they will see it, and they’re entitled to tweet to you if they want to. How they handle it is a different story.” – Ngaire
“I initially don’t tag them because I want to have a rant. But if they fix/resolve from that and respond then I’m pretty happy. That would even impress me more and it builds respect with me.” – Amber

Some disagreed with me:
“isn’t a good thing if they want to try make it right?” – Sharyn
“I think everyone has a right to respond on a public forum, companies included. If I didn’t want them to, I’d avoid naming them. I know big businesses can be mega annoying with insincere “We’re sorry to hear that” messages, but as a small biz I think many are looking to genuinely rectify a situation” – Evie
“if you are going to talk shit about a company on a public forum surely they have the right to defend themselves.” – Ian
“I think people who get all “How Dare You Address Me” on twitter are the funniest. Unless you’re locked, t’s a public space.” – Cara
“I’ve actually had a few times where I couldn’t find a co’s Twitter, named them, they found it and responded. Happy customer after!” – Dan
“Everybody should get a right of reply if you’re going to criticise them in a public forum. Whether it be a person or a company” – Karl
“Farmers did this to me and I was pleasantly surprised, was very quick to respond & offered to call store in question :)” – Kerie

Someone provided a company perspective:
“lots of people don’t realise we’re not just here to push links in your face. We have a social care manager. Her job is to help. most of the time people appreciate it if we reach out on search. If they don’t, they ignore us. I’m not letting bad experiences slip through the cracks. We are first & foremost about social care & community. that’s my rule. No cool stuff, no Vines, no blogs unless we’re responding within our time frames 7 days a week.” – Anna

Aaaaaand there was this
“Recently I’ve had staff members like their employers’ replies to my questions/criticism, which is kinda creepy” – Dan

So the common points here are that if companies are going to reply to a remark, rather than an @, proceed with caution. If you decide to engage, offer real value to the consumer, with a non-robotic response.

And if you’re sending non-@ tweets about a company, be prepared for that company to talk to you about it anyway. Or for Dan to come along and tag them in anyway.

Seven Twitter tricks you might not know

If you’re a heavy-duty Twitter user, you probably already know these tricks, but for the uninitiated among us, here are some nifty tips that have helped me have a better online experience.

. in front of @username
When you’re tweeting to someone, the only people who get those messages in their newsfeed are people who follow both of you. By putting a full stop in front of the other person’s username, you’re making sure everyone who follows you will see that tweet, if they’re on Twitter at the time.

Use it wisely. No one wants to read every tweet.

DMs via text + sleep settings
Did you know you can get your private messages text to you? And you can turn them off so you don’t get pinged by a drunken DM at 2am.

Firstly, pop in your mobile number on settings >> Mobile, then pop in what you want text to you, and the no-contact zone.

Tip for new players: Don’t reply to these text messages – they’ll go onto your feed like a regular tweet!

Keyboard shortcuts
Did you know you can click j and k to scroll between tweets? Or that the full stop will load new tweets?


Twitter analytics
You’re welcome.

Turn off RTs from a user
Sometimes I’ll ask a question, and then retweet all the interesting and varied replies I get. That no doubt annoys people. To turn it off, go to the user’s profile page, click the cog symbol on the right, then turn off Retweets. Easy!

Sort out your search
Want to know who is tweeting your blog links? Put your url into the search, click “all” and bam! Also, you can narrow search terms using negative keywords – it’s simple. Just put in your search words, then -abc the words you don’t want to appear. Really useful if you’re searching something that has multiple meanings!

Tweet gifs!
You can tweet gifs now! Man, have I taken advantage of this in the last few months.

Got any tricks? Add them in the comments!

#MeanNats are the only political tweets you need to read this year

The hashtag de jour, ladies and gentlemen, is #MeanNats, and it comes courtesy of one @_surelymermaid.

It began simply enough


Best Kiwi tweets: The Royal Edition

The Royal Family have alighted from their jet and are in New Zealand and Twittererers have responded with all the grave dignity you might imagine they would. Here are some of my favourites.

Twitter web gets a facelift

A few Twitter accounts have started to get some special features, which others are missing. It looks like Twitter are rolling out partial web updates to various users as a trial.

Here’s an example of the new layout for the web homepage:

newlooktwitterIt’s running a white menubar on top, whereas the previous one was black. The bio, header, and username now display in a box on the top right, and the tweet button is more prominent.  The icons on the right have been updated, too. Overall it’s a cleaner interface, and very nice to use.

Meanwhile, I’ve started getting popups in the bottom right corner for everything appearing in the Connect tab.


It gets a little annoying. Good notification system, but you need to be able to control what’s popping up – when you get it for every single RT and favourite, it’s a bit overwhelming. Customisation please, Twitter!

DMs also show via the popup and you can reply straight from that screen – good stuff!

The changes seem to be user focused, attempting to make Twitter web a cleaner interface, and bringing in some of the real-time functionality we see in clients such as Tweetdeck. They just need to get the balance right, which I’m sure will come from beta testing and user feedback.

Have you seen any changes to Twitter web lately?

One simple diagram for getting your brand’s social content right

So you have a branded social media account, and you’re following the first rule of social: Don’t be a dick. Good, but now what?

There’s lots of advice floating around about what content works well on which platforms – making sure your Facebook status is “likeable”, joining in on a Twitter conversation, hashtagging your Instagrams up the ying – but for me, it boils down to this wee venn diagram:


The red circle is about finding out what your audience likes – seems straightforward, but are you sure you know what they like, and not what you think they like? What is it about your audience that is unique?

The blue circle is about being on brand. It’s about promotions and marketing. It’s about the look and feel of updates. It’s about getting the core message of your company across.

The yellow circle is about what works best online. What topics are going off at the moment? Where is the conversation – what is it about? What are today’s memes?

A lot of companies stay in one content type. They may even cross over with another circle, but spend a lot of time delivering one sort of update, to the detriment of the community or their brand. Your brand should never just live in one of those circles. If your marketing push doesn’t exist for the community, it’s not right for social. If your viral content is totally off brand, you’re wasting your time.

Doing updates from sections 1, 2, or 3 is a slightly better option.

Living in section 1 means the content they’re using is engaging, and their fans like it, but it doesn’t reflect the brand. Generic status updates like this are fine, but often your brand can get lost, or there may even be a conflict between the values of your brand, and the content you’re posting.

Section 2 is where you’ve found the niche in terms of what works for your brand, and your audience, but the content isn’t necessarily viral. This is a good place to be in terms of brand hygiene, but not so much in terms of outreach, and fan endorsement.

If your updates are in section 3, you’re producing on-brand content that ticks the box in terms of being viral or engaging in nature, but that doesn’t resonate with your fans. It could be that you’re using the meme too late (remember all those brands that put out Harlem Shake videos the week after everyone declared it dead? Yeah, that.)

The golden space is section 4. You’ve found content that fits with your brand, your audience loves it, and it’s positioned well to go off. And it does! Well done, you. Hope your boss recognises how hard it is to find that sweet spot!

So… How did that happen?

  • You know your brand – it has a clear voice and take on the world, and you’ve stamped it onto your update.
  • You’ve identified what it is about your brand that your fans love and delivered it to them.
  • You’ve reflected the sentiment of your community in a timely manner, or rarked them up in a good way.
  • The community can take ownership – you just got the ball rolling!

Yes, it’s simplistic, but it works.

Five reasons why hashtag hijacking is bad marketing

Those of you who regularly use Twitter (or Instagram, or Pinterest, etc) will be familiar with hashtags. For those who aren’t, a hashtag is a way of grouping similar tweets or photos – like a tag. When enough of them happen in a short amount of time, that tag starts to trend.

Why anyone would choose to hijack a trending topic for their unrelated business is beyond me.

Reason 1: It’s not about reach anymore
If you’re going to market your company via Twitter, put your old rulebook away. It’s not all about reach and frequency on social media, it’s about finding the right audience and connecting with them in meaningful and helpful ways.

Reason 2: You look like you don’t understand hashtags/the platform/your audience
You know those #people #who #hashtag #every #word so the tags become nearly meaningless? Or those mindless bots who tweet rubbish just to get their URL onto the top trending topics? They’re pretty much the lowest rung of Twitter users, due to their abuse of tags, and if you do it, you’ll be right down there with them.

Reason 3: You’re being rude
If you don’t respect the community, it won’t respect you. Imagine a group of friends at a party. Rather than participating in the conversation, you interject and start talking about your company. That’s what you’re doing when you hijack a hashtag. It’s not cheeky, or funny, or cute… It’s rude.

Reason 4: Spam is spam
Sure, spam has a click through rate good enough to justify spammers going at it, but no respectable business should be spamming people on ANY platform. You’re sending unsolicited commercial messages in an electronic format to an unrelated hashtag where a group of people will be unable to avoid it; Sounds a lot like something that could be covered under the Unsolicited Electronic Messages Act of 2007, if you think about it.

Reason 5: It can damage your business
If you don’t know why the topic is trending, or abuse the tag regardless, you can irrevocably damage your business. There are heaps of examples of this floating around. Here’s one: Just after the Aurora shooting in the US, Celeb Boutique sent this out.

Celeb Boutique use "Aurora" to promote themselves


You can read more about it here.


As I said: Why would anyone would choose to hijack a trending topic for their unrelated business?

Celebrities read mean tweets about themselves

Twitter: Giving people a licence to be rude to strangers since 2006.

People often say “you shouldn’t be in the kitchen if you can’t stand the heat”, but hearing celebs read out the insults they get tweeted in the below videos highlight just how mental people can be.

And also how the celebrities are actually just human beings, with feelings and senses of humour. Mostly.

NZ in 2012: As told via Twitter

2012. It was a strange year. A year we, as a nation, ran out of Marmite. A year we watched people in lycra chuck stuff and run fast for shiny necklaces. A year where ANZ finally put the NBNZ horse to sleep. A year we rocked the classiness harder than ever before.

There was Valentines Day
ErinNoName I was just given a bottle of codeine and a box of tramadol. That’s a valentines day gift, right?

A road rule changed
robtreacher Starting Sunday, Kiwi motorists will be giving the finger to other turning traffic with the left hand and not the right.

Kim Dotcom happened
KimDotcom You heard of this guy who was nailed to a cross, came back from the dead & launched a cool movement? Mega is kinda like that 😉

We watched the Olympics together
rhysiedarby BBC commentary: “The NZ rowers are a little rough around the edges.” – yeah that’s how we like it. We’ll wait for you at the finish bro.
katie_skatie Oh, & Olympics Gods… thanks for making weightlifting terminology so fun. “In her snatch” is the best! Followed closely by the clean jerk!
snappy_nz New Zealand now top the medals per exploding barbecues at fan bases table.

#marmageddon hit!
evilkud As long as Hamilton exists their will never really be a lack of yeasty spreads in NZ

There was another Batman movie
Nightwyrm It’s okay that I’m not wearing pants while repeatedly watching the new Dark Knight Rise trailer, right? No-one on this train seems to mind.

Aaaand there was a Hobbit movie
kebabette The only way I could be more bored by The Hobbit is if it starred Kim Dotcom, Dan Carter, and a big jar of marmite.

The Shopping Channel launched
damianchristie The shopping channel reminds me of a game where you give someone a bunch of P then get them to talk about some crap they found in a drawer.

The Target guy fapped
VinLew Clean a stain, make a stain, clean a stain, make a stain
_victoriajayne_ Is he watching videos of girls staining carpets?
hello_im_megan After all is said and done, I was impressed by a man multi-tasking

We said goodbye to The National Bank
cjlambert quick other banks! *cue rolling thunder switch campaigns #blackhorsedown

TwitOnTourNZ Planning My Movember Gala outfit… Question, How long does it take to grow eyebrows back?

Christmas happened, again.
And I did a whole post about it.

Bonus: The best of Stay Classy tweets
lmfbs Is a DIY brazilian a terrible idea, or simply a bad idea?
jessepeach Taught my parents to use Skype tonight. Then my dad tried to squeeze a pimple on my mother’s face. I really don’t think they get it.
pinkdeedle Accidentally pashed a dog. Long story. Bull mastiff.
JaneYee Superman may be able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, but I can catch baby vomit with my bare hands.
JaredNeilsen Glade has ruined walking in parks! The smell of fresh cut flowers now reminds me of restrooms
mikokiko Hey snobby lady. Ohakune called. They want their carrot back.

Thanks for another year of awesome, Kiwis of Twitter.

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