The study had students follow a specially designed Twitter feed that was supposedly written by one of their professors. One group got only school-related Tweets, one got only personal Tweets and the third group got a mix.
After following the feeds, the students were asked to rate the professor’s credibility. The highest ratings came from those who saw only personal Tweets. The addition of school-related Tweets did nothing to raise the professor’s score.
The authors of the study felt that the higher rating came from the fact that the students thought the personal Tweeting professor was more “caring” which apparently is more important that competent.
The study also found that older students were more likely to be concerned about getting too much information, which might make their relationship with the professor awkward.
Though this study was designed for use with students and teachers, it’s easy to see how this would translate into the marketing world. The addition of personal Tweets (within reason) in a business Twitter account is a good thing. It gives followers something to relate to and makes the Twitter-er sound like a real person instead of a corporate mouthpiece.
Of the brands I follow on Twitter, my favorites are those that sound like they’re being written by a person I’d enjoy having lunch with. And if I stick around long enough, I may even see a picture of their lunch on TwitPic.
The caveat here is, of course, that you don’t go too far. Your followers might enjoy hearing about the party you attended last night, but they don’t want to hear about the consequences of one margarita, too many.
Do you include personal Tweets in your business feed? If so, where do you draw the line between being social and TMI?