Giving Inanimate Objects a “Voice” on Twitter

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Giving Inanimate Objects a “Voice” on Twitter

Scrolling through your Twitter feed, have you ever noticed a Twitter account giving voice to an inanimate object or non-human being?

The Campanile

In June of 2018, while attending Digital Summit Portland with my team at Spry, I was fascinated by the lecture about an experiment in marketing UC Berkeley’s landmark bell & clock tower, The Campanile, on Twitter. By giving the tower its own voice, spreading the word through students, and pushing specific hashtags, they were able to grow a hugely successful and engaged following.

The Campanile Twitter project launched in 2013 and, to this day, retains a following of over 1,300 people and still occasionally sends out tweets.

Tweet from the Campanile Twitter account, keeping the account active

What’s the point, you might ask, to giving voice to an inanimate object?

The answer: engagement. Engagement, engagement, engagement. Which brings awareness and can lead to sales.

Twitter is the perfect social media platform for this sort of entertaining and engaging content. Tweets, with their 140 character limit, are approachable and easy to send out multiple times per day. Followers love to engage with their favorite brands and can easily do so through the Retweet function.

Plus, by giving a focused effort to developing a specific personality, tone, and voice for your profile, you can deliberately market your brand to the audience of your choosing.

One successful campaign does not a new trend create.

You might be thinking that just because UC Berkeley was able to create a following for their bell tower, doesn’t necessarily mean that you should jump right on this band wagon. Well, after putting in just a bit of research, we were able to find several successful Twitter profiles, with dedicated followings, for other inanimate or non-human beings.

Karl the Fog

Karl the Fog gives voice to the “resident” fog bank in San Francisco. With an active Twitter profile dating way back to 2010, and over 350,000 followers, Karl the Fog is sensational. Interested in learning more about how the Bay Area’s fog bank came to be known by the name of Karl? In this July 2018 article, we learned some of the value to this concept of giving voice to an inanimate object.

Quote from a San Francisco resident talking about how Karl the Fog's Twitter personality made her appreciate the seasonal fog rather than feeling oppressed by it

By giving the fog a voice and personality, it became approachable, friendly, almost like a neighbor to the people of San Francisco. You might also be interested to learn that Karl the Fog has just recently announced that he’s publishing a book! Hello, profit.

Tweet sent out from the Karl the Fog Twitter Account introducing their book for sale

Thoughts of Dog

Thoughts of Dog: This loveable goob of a dog has taken Twitter by storm. 2.35 million followers can’t be wrong. I mean, seriously, read a couple tweets, take a gander at that adorable face, and you’re HOOKED. Check out the cover photo and realize this is marketing doing what marketing does- they’re ramping up to sell a card game. But … but…. look at the adorable doggy and just soak up all his adorable doggy-isms. I dare you not to jump on Twitter right now and follow him.

Three Tweets sent out in March 2019 from the Thoughts of Dog Twitter Account

Spry Digital Marketing- we’re jumping on the band wagon!

SV Mosaic

So, in case you didn’t know (which you should because, hey, follow us on social media!), I live on a 40-foot sailboat with my family. Yes, it’s as cool as it sounds. So, pondering all of this, I decided to launch my own experiment. And how better to do that than to give voice to my home, SV Mosaic.

I created a Twitter account for the sailboat, and developed a voice for her. She’s a wise old soul who’s looking forward to new adventures with her new family. We do not know her entire history, so we play on her knowledge of her history as something she chooses not to share, or she’s ‘forgotten’ in sort of the same manner that a lady might refuse to divulge her age.

I have purposefully not promoted the Twitter account through any of my other social media channels. I wanted to see how the experiment would perform organically and not through transferring following from my other channels.

It’s also very important to note that I have not put any advertising funds behind this Twitter account and, as a result, she’s still got a very limited following- at publish of this article, only about a dozen followers. I’m playing with different types of posts to see where I see success in gaining followers or engagement.

I started out with simple text posts- Mosaic posting a sardonic quip about her life here at the dock or just updating her friends about what she’s up to these days.

Image of a Tweet sent out on January 16 2019 by the Mosaic Voyage SV Mosaic Twitter Account

From there, I moved to posting Tweets that included a picture to see what kind of engagement rate I saw while also retweeting posts from other accounts that Mosaic is following, which are mostly environmental accounts or accounts for places up in the Puget Sound where we’re relocating this summer.

Without seeing a big difference in my engagement or following, I am planning to drop back to simple text posts with strategic and deliberate writing. My thought behind this is that Karl the Fog and Thoughts of Dog both post only simple text Tweets. We’ll see. It will be interesting to watch how this profile evolves over time.

The Grant Street Pier

Vancouver's New Waterfront Park in downtown Vancouver WA boasts this spectacular Grant Street Pier overhanging the beautiful Columbia River

We’re also very excited to be taking on a new client in downtown Vancouver WA. Gramor Development Incorporated owns a good section of waterfront property in Vancouver WA along the Columbia River and is hiring Spry to market their newly built landmark, the Grant Street Pier.

We will develop a persona and tone for the pier and give it a voice on Twitter. The goal will be to make the pier itself become a destination for tourists and locals to visit, snap selfies, and share experiences with the pier out on their social media accounts. The pier’s account will Retweet posts where it is tagged, and we will develop a specific hashtag that we can track.

There are several restaurants and boutique shops that would benefit from added foot traffic coming in through our marketing efforts and, thus, the property value will go up for the land owned by Gramor Development. We’ve got a lot of unique marketing ideas and are excited to put some advertising dollars behind our work for the pier’s Twitter account.

We hope you might feel inspired to follow our journey with the Grant Street Pier Project. If so, please check us out, like and follow the pier accounts at:

Twitter.com/grantstreetpier

Instagram.com/grantstreetpier

Facebook.com/grantstreetpier

Time Will Tell

I’ll be sure to post another blog piece on this topic in 6 months to a year with a follow up on how our accounts are doing and any other research that we’ve found.

We’re very excited for the possibilities coming our way through these unique and fun Twitter accounts. Have you seen or heard about any other Twitter accounts giving voice to an inanimate object or a non-human being? If you have, we would love to hear about it!

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