Are you representing a brand on Twitter? Read this.

Before you hire someone to run your Twitter account, they should be checked for basic Twitter competency before you hand over the keys to your brand.  Here are some things any Twitter brand pro needs to know.

1. The dot-mention

Starting a tweet with a username pretty well guarantees that it won’t be seen by anyone except you, the user mentioned, and any mutual followers you may have.  If you want to start a tweet with a username as a noun in your tweet you need to prepend it with a character.  The crowd has spoken!  Just place a period in front of the username to prevent it from being treated like a reply.

2. The favorite button isn’t anonymous

As part of Twitter’s revised algorithm, certain Tweets are put in your followers Timelines when you favorite them.  Be wary, this can have devastating consequences for your brand.

You wouldn’t want to favorite a magnificently hilarious and inappropriate tweet and then have your brand’s name saying “[your brand here] favorited:”

3. People love to be told what to do

Doing the whole “RT if you like xyz” is incredibly effective.  Hijacking things like sports/university affiliations are a very good way to get tons of cheap exposure.

4. Don’t phone it in.

Lots of brands think they can get away with auto-posting their Facebook Page statuses to their Twitter accounts.  Every single one of those tweets comes with a “fb.me” link.  Nothing advertises your ambivalence to Twitter quite like this.

These channels are different, and should be handled differently.

Scheduled content should be handled appropriately, as well.  If it’s obvious that a tweet was sent by a robot because no human wanted to be around to pull the trigger, some may perceive apathy.  Use scheduled posts sparingly.  Using scheduled posts for time-based contests (“We are going to announce a secret contest code word at 1 PM MST”) is a great way to ensure flawless execution of a time-sensitive campaign.  Other tweets?  Proceed with caution.

5. Visual content is most likely to win

Twitter’s research states that a Tweet with a photo is 35% more likely to be retweeted.

6. Hashtags are a force

Don’t try to be cute with hashtags.  Hashtags are used to allow the wealth of Twitter’s jabber congeal around a subject.  Used wrong, they can backfire terribly.

digiornos-you-had-pizzaDiGiorno Pizza proved that hashtag hijacking is not always the best idea with this Tweet.  The #WhyIStayed hashtag was being used at the time for victims of domestic abuse to share why they stayed in an abusive relationship.

Remember: with Twitter you are not in control of the discourse, and things can turn against you very quickly.

Here is where VH1 tried the hashtag #AskThicke. The discourse soon shifted.  People were grilling Robin Thicke for sexism, calling his hit song “Blurred Lines” a rape anthem, among other things.

If you’re going to go with a hashtag, make sure there is no way for it to backfire.  Comedy Central’s @midnight is a pace setter in this space.

7. Be personal

Nothing charms your followers more than a friendly discussion on Twitter.  Use emoji and emoticons.  Make jokes.  Talk to other brands.  People are on Twitter to chat without boundaries.  Go for it.

8. Distill.

You have 140 characters, and you should use them wisely.  Don’t use hashtags ironically or flippantly.  Your tweet should have meaning, and not be a waste of your followers’ time.

Pick up the slack, Beats by Dre.

I’ve never condoned the purchase of Beats by Dre before.  And I never will.

But, I do own a pair.  I received them as a gift.  I was taken aback to receive a $200 pair of Beats headphones as a gift, but that’s neither here nor there.

Beats by Dre headphones are a well-marketed and incredibly mediocre pair of headphones that promise to restore your faith in audio with a price tag that will restore your faith in credit cards.  They’re expensive, and they only sound ok.

A terrible way to spend $200.
A terrible way to spend $200.

Regardless, I own a pair of these headphones.  Almost immediately I notice that they are comfortable (I expect this–they retail for $200).  They interface well with my iPhone with a microphone and have a cable remote (I expect this–they retail for $200).  They have surprisingly sturdy hinges and the case is of very high build quality.  I expect all of these things–they retail for $200.

But, also almost immediately notice that there is a flabbing piece of plastic in the right earpiece.  It is noticeable in extremely high-bass situations, and when you readjust the earpiece (for comfort or whatever reason), the piece of plastic clicks and flaps as the vacuum between your ear and the cuff changes.

This isn’t a huge inconvenience, for a typical product.  This is a prestige product and a luxury good!  For $200, I should have no qualms about the product for years to come.  I have found an annoying flaw within minutes of using it.

So I email Beats by Dre.  I want this fixed, naturally.

Beats by Dre’s email support offers to fix/replace my headphones even though I don’t have the receipt (that’s nice).  But when I sent them my information for them to setup the RMA (Returned Merchandise Authorization), it took them 15 days to send the RMA.

I do not get a new pair of headphones.  I will be without headphones for anywhere between 2 and 4 weeks.  I have to pay to ship the headphones back to the service center.  I have to print my own labels.

You might be sitting in your chair thinking “Brad, you are a whiny asshole.”

But this product isn’t a normal product, governed by supply and demand of a normal product.  This is a prestige product, and the demand for the product gets higher as the price gets higher.

Notice that the demand for prestige products still rises as the price does.
Notice that the demand for prestige products still rises as the price does.

Beats by Dre headphones share the prestige classification with other prestige brands like Coach and Mercedes-Benz and Cole Hahn.

Cole Hahn’s prestige shoes have free replacement shoelaces for life.  Coach leather is warrantied for life.  Any flaw in workmanship for a Mercedes-Benz will be fixed for 2 years or 50,000 miles.

A flaw in workmanship that I discovered literally minutes into owning the product qualifies me for a refurbished product, with no effort made to ease the transition.

Prestige distinction comes with an obligation: cherish me as a customer.  Take care of me and make me tell others about my experience.

So now, I have to budget my money (I’m not kidding–I have $20 right now), so I can UPS or FedEx these stupid headphones back to whence the came, so I can have the privilege of waiting two-to-four weeks for like-new headphones.  Are you kidding me?

If you had asked me “Would you buy Beats by Dre headphones?” before, I would have said no.  If you ask me today, I say “Hell no.”  Spend your money on some good headphones (that won’t need repair) by Klipsch or Sennheiser.