Twitter Marketing: Are Brands Overdoing It?



Meet Chloe Kim. Most of you have probably heard of her, and if not…where have you been??

Anyways, Chloe is only 17 years old, and the youngest woman to win an Olympic snowboarding medal after receiving the gold in the women’s halfpipe. Chloe also happens to have a bit of a presence on Twitter. People love her because even though she is an Olympic athlete, she is very relatable and funny, often tweeting about food (even during the Olympics). There is even a Buzzfeed article that lists all of the hilarious things she has tweeted, which I highly recommend checking out if you don’t follow her. Chloe tweeted this right before her last run, where she officially took the gold:

Now I’m sure many of us average Twitter users have tweeted about being hangry, only to get maybe a few likes and then having the tweet disappear into the Twitterverse. But when an Olympic gold medalist tweets about being hangry, it’s a whole different story. When Chloe Kim posted this, a ton of companies jumped on the opportunity to promote their products with this free advertising opportunity. Here are a few examples:

Hamilton Beach:

California Pizza Kitchen:

Red Apron:

Oreo Cookie:

Who knew that an Olympian being hangry could cause such a frenzy? Twitter has given companies an easy point of direct contact, and because a lot of US athletes have a presence on the site, it has provided these companies with the opportunity to market their products without having to pay costly advertising fees. We first saw this tactic during Super Bowl XLVII, when Oreo took the opportunity to tweet during the 34-minute blackout:

You can see that their brilliant idea was successful, as it was retweeted over 10,000 times. People loved seeing the brand play along and make a joke at that moment. After this other brands followed suit, capitalizing on any opportunity they could get to promote themselves and seem “down to earth.” Fast forward five years, and it seems as though this tactic may be overdone. Companies are using Twitter so much that it doesn’t feel authentic to users anymore. People come on Twitter to engage in conversation, and brans are coming on Twitter to talk about themselves and shove their products in our faces, which a lot of users find annoying.

To put this into perspective, here are some statistics that companies should be aware of when using Twitter to attract consumers:

The main takeaway from these statistics is that Twitter can be a useful tool for marketing if used correctly. Users want conversation, and they care more about what other people say about you, not what you say about yourself. I think the best example of this is another interaction with Chloe Kim. The Olympian tweeted, “Oh and I also had 2 churros today, and they were pretty bomb so if you ever get nervous go eat a churro.” Almost immediately, Scott Porter, the owner of San Diablo Artisan Churros in Draper, Utah, responded offering her free churros for life. This was a great opportunity for the brand because rather than doing a sponsored tweet, the product can speak for itself with this authentic interaction with a hungry snowboarder. We may not know the exact impact of this type of social media interaction, but with Olympians like Kim, Adam Rippon, and Shaun White being so active on the site, there is more opportunity to find out.

(Chloe eventually did get her churros, by the way).

With such a low engagement rate on Twitter, companies may want to consider other alternatives. However, if companies still want to use the site as an easy and direct point of contact, they can and should promote products in a more authentic way. Here are a few quick tips for doing so:

  • Spark up a dialogue. Rather than pushing products down customers throats, seek to engage better by asking questions, crowdsourcing opinions, creating polls. There are so many ways to use social media other than self-promoting. Customers will appreciate this more.
  • Inform your customers. Share your company’s vision. Share something that will inspire people. Tell them how your company or product makes the world better. People want to support positive movements.
  • React to customers’ issues. We all have seen people take to Twitter to make complaints with companies. Customers will appreciate brands that respond to their complaints and make appropriate changes.

These are just a few simple and maybe obvious guidelines, but some brands could benefit from understanding the basics of consumer interaction through Twitter.








  1. murphycobc · ·

    Your post made me think about Twitter and the “snarky” profiles some companies have pushed out lately. The Wendys and Chiptoles of the world now have these online personas that just send out all sorts of tweets to anyone who mentions the brand, but their voice is very relatable and young. Recently, I’ve been see the company Drake’s do the same, but as promoted tweets, and its driving me crazy. Because the promoted tweet is like every 10-20 tweets on my feed, I just want them to stop. Any one else find that once its promoted, its less funny/cool or feels less genuine that before?

  2. In regards to your title question, I do not think brands are overdoing twitter marketing. There are only a handful of brands that pop into my head when I think about twitter marketing. Most of those brands do not necessarily push products onto customers on Twitter, rather they have a voice when it comes to customer service or in regards to events that happen in pop culture or society as a whole. The airline industry might be the only industry that has a steady usage rate on Twitter. I honestly do not use Twitter, other than this class, so I cannot express any downsides of this, but when a Tweet from any corporation goes viral I get a good laugh at it.

  3. jennypenafiel11 · ·

    Seeing as I’m new to Twitter and so far only use it for this class, it was interesting to read about your perspective and some of the statistics you found. I think your point is totally valid and the suggestions are well thought out! I could definitely see myself getting annoyed when companies overdo. I definitely think companies should be selective as to what they choose to engage in order to keep their posts authentic. However, I could also see how those opportunities would be hard to filter and companies are always trying to market their brand especially online where there’s so many advertisements to compete with everywhere. I’m sure it’s a hard balance to maintain. I am curious as to what things will look like in another five years!

  4. roarkword · ·

    I totally agree with you @murphycobc, it does start to feel a lot less genuine and amusing once it is promoted; one off occurrences are a lot more amusing even if it happens to fewer people! And therein lies the sweet spot that I believe these companies should try to sit in the minds of their customers: genuine. Each of the tips you described all have the distinct quality of making said company more human and less of a corporate entity. Twitter has been around long enough for companies to look into the data (which was provided in the blogpost) and realize that being online does not change customer behavior dynamics; we don’t want spam bots!

  5. Jobabes121 · ·

    A great post! I certainly agree that overdoing advertisement does not benefit any side of the market – neither the customers nor the companies. Regarding the tip for “reacting to customers’ issues,” the in-class example about Delta or Jet Blue using Twitter to compensate customers’ bad experience seems like one of the most effective ways to use the platform. However, I also see the reason behind companies’ “extensive advertising” campaign. They would like to be as prompt and timely as possible to spread the message as soon as a famous celebrity’s Tweet is up, as the advertising effect diminishes greatly as time passes even a bit. As this becomes more annoying to users (and I am sure they are aware as well; they just didn’t find a more optimal way to take advantage of it), these “marketing/advertising experts” hired at companies have a higher responsibility and require more creative skill sets to not only take advantage of the timeliness of the tweet post but also come up with a creative and genuine post that follows up with it. Well, companies like Wall Street Journal or Financial Times do it, with even more dense content; why couldn’t marketing teams specializing in creativity do the same?

  6. graceglambrecht · ·

    Amazing post, i think you hit on the major points that brands are having trouble with and the biggest one is being genuine. If brands interact on a lower level or a robotic level, followers and users are less likely to actually interact with the brand and care about what they’re doing. I see this a lot with instagram comments and twitter replies where companies just don’t know how to interact with people on the site in a real way! feeling like you are talking to a real person can go a long way for brands on social media. I think this will also tie in with this weeks class topic in regards to virality! unique and interesting content goes viral, not cookie cutter robot content.

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