Do most brands sound the same on Twitter?

A majority of users believe companies are over-reliant on trying to be funny, and it could end up hurting their brands.


The same old, same old brand tactics on Twitter isn’t cutting it anymore.

The social media platform, with an assist from research firm Sparkler, analyzed 5,000 Tweets to get a better sense of how brands ought to behave, examining posts from 20 global brands over a three-year period, in eight countries including Canada, the U.S., the U.K., France, Brazil, Japan, Spain and Mexico.

In fact, the sea of sameness is so prevalent that despite how varied the brands were in terms of their product category, only 33% of 2,000 consumers surveyed could guess the correct brand when presented with a list of five options. And, according to last summer’s Sparkler #RealTalk Study 2021, also commissioned by Twitter, the adjectives “playful” and “funny” were the most common descriptors used for how a company comes to life on social.

The majority (80%) of research respondants expect brands to evolve their tone with the times and to read the room rather than consistently being glib and humorous. Half of respondents agreed that brands that rely on humor and jokes can feel outdated today, a sentiment disproportionately favoured by younger users, age 18 to 34.

Even though users have come to expect similar engagement tactics from brands, they’re still interested in reading what companies have to Tweet.

In the past year alone, Twitter reported that conversations and engagements with brands were up double digits. And 80% agree with the statement, “I don’t mind being sold to on social media, as long as it’s fun, useful, entertaining, informative, or moves me in some way.”

Users also want brands to Tweet across a range of topics. Respondents say that 90% of topics are on the table for a brand, if correctly addressed, with a caveat that when brands join sensitive cultural or political topics, they must do so meaningfully.

Nearly half of those surveyed (48%) agree with the statement, “It’s more important now for brands to support economic, social, political, or cultural issues, even when the issue doesn’t directly impact them vs. a year ago.”

When it comes to a brand’s intentions, consumers are savvier than ever. The report warns that people’s sense of authenticity is finely honed, and they aren’t shy about speaking up when a brand is lacking genuine messaging.

Users increasingly expect brands to navigate contentious issues and 61% of respondents state that “brands should acknowledge moments of crisis in their advertising and communications when they are occurring.”

According to the study, people are identifying more strongly with specific communities than ever before, with audiences becoming more fragmented. And 80% of respondents feel the voice of a brand’s Twitter account should reflect the diversity of their customers — not just one customer type.

In fact, distinction is everything a brand needs to succeed on Twitter, with 90% of respondents valuing brands that have a strong sense of identity.