Leaders and Followers: the best and worst of retailers using Twitter

Special Current.com.au Feature by Patrick Avenell

Twitter has grown from being an upstart microblogging site to one of the most popular socia media in the world. It is now used extensively by corporations to promote their brands, products and services. Electrical retailers in Australia have embraced Twitter to varying degrees, with some clearly understanding and embracing its power better than others. Here is our look at how the major retailers are performing on Twitter.

Executive Summary: The best are JB Hi-Fi, E&S Trading and The Good Guys. Betta Home Living and Dick Smith are the worst.

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Harvey Norman (@HarveyNormanAU)
Tweeting Since: 24 March 2009
Bio: “Follow our tweets for the hottest products, events, promos, business updates, employment, and more. Do you need help? We are only a tweet away!”
Followers: 13,323

For all the criticism Harvey Norman gets about not understanding the internets and such, the retailer does a very good job with its Twitter page. The only account of this sample to be Verified, Harvey Norman tweets regularly, though not incessantly, with most posts advertising competitions or replying to customers. There was even an adorable puppy photo on Valentine’s Day.

Improvements? There isn’t anything particularly interesting ever Tweeted by Harveys — the feed almost appears intentionally bland. While the company is smart never to get involved in stoushes with other users, after a while following this feed, it does seem more like an one-way advertising platform than a conversation.

Best Tweet: 


Dick Smith (@DickSmith)
Tweeting Since: 7 November 2008
Bio: (none)
Followers: 5,395

Not including a bio is a big mistake for Dick Smith — potential followers want assurances that accounts are genuine and although this is definitely the right page, many will be turned off by the lack of a description. Tweets are sent in bursts, with several around the end of January, then a long break to mid-February, then a fortnight off before the next update. The content of the tweets range from humorous and conversational to product marketing and advertising of ‘Dick’s Daily Deals’. There is the occasional customer reply, which normally consists of the recipient being asked to call a customer service line.

Improvements? A bio for start would be good. Once that’s up, Dick Smith should focus on taking Twitter seriously or they should abandon it altogether. There’s no point in using it occasionally to promote a sale — Twitter only works if you are actively engaging with your followers. Considering how prolific some of the most followed Tweeters are, there’s clearly no such thing as Tweeting too much.

Best Tweet:

Best and Worst: How good are the traditional retailers at mobile sites?

The Good Guys (@TheGoodGuysAU)
Tweeting Since: 15 September 2011
Bio: “Follow The Good Guys for the best deals on home appliances and electrical goods. Pay Less Pay Cash!”
Followers: 1,288

Two things I like about this page are the regular updating and the relaxed tone. Considering how conservative The Good Guys is with the media, it’s a welcome insight into the culture of this private company. Tweets are used to interact with customers, advertise store deals and promote the outstanding work The various Good Guys do in the community. There is much less bland marketing on this stream and a welcome focus on interaction with the Twitterverse. This page definitely deserves more followers.

Improvements? The Good Guys only follows 200-odd accounts – it’s very hard to convince people you care about them if you’re not willing to pretend you read their Tweets. Get out there and follow lots more: it will get The Good Guys brand on people’s screens and you’ll definitely pick up more followers.

Best Tweet: 

Bing Lee (@ILikeBingLee)
Tweeting Since: 20 March 2009
Bio: “Welcome to Bing Lee’s Twitter feed. Follow us for news, random tweets and updates from the Bing Lee team!”
Followers: 1,354

The @BingLee account was taken by the Copy Editor for The Vancouver Sun so Sydney’s favourite family-owned chain was forced to improvise. This account has a lot of potential — there were live videos posted from the 2013 International CES in Las Vegas, for example, and the occasional link to the excellent Bing Lee Blog — but with only three Tweets during all of February 2013, it is clearly not a priority for the retailer.

Improvements? Not so much an improvement than a total overhaul. A very affable young man named Ritchie Djamhur (@RitchiesRoom) is closely associated with Bing Lee’s digital team and if Bing Lee’s account more closely resembled his it would be a winner.

Best Tweet: 

Betta Home Living (@BettaElectrical)
Tweeting Since: 30 April 2009
Bio: “Betta Electrical Brookvale NOW OPEN!”
Followers: 112

What a sad and sorry page this is! It appears that this page was set up by an individual store rather than the central office, but as the only representation of Betta on Twitter it is doing a terrible job representing the otherwise great retail chain. Only four Tweets were ever sent from this account, the last on 16 May 2011.

Improvements? Find out who owns this page, access it and delete it. Then, start a new Twitter account with the Betta Home Living name (@BettaHomeLiving is still available) and make a proper go of it.

Best Tweet:

E&S Trading (@EStrading)
Tweeting Since: 22 September 2009
Bio: “E&S Trading is one of Victoria's oldest family-owned specialist kitchen, bathroom & laundry retailers. Top brands and top service is what we do best!”
Followers: 323

I really love this Twitter stream and would still follow it even if I wasn’t paid to as part of my job. Although it's short on followers (perhaps users can’t find the account without the ampersand?) it is very lively, constantly updated and full of various media. There are videos, blogs, Instagrams, YouTube videos and even Retweets of Current.com.au stories! Of course, there are the mandatory ‘we have a sale on’ Tweets, but they are sparse enough to not define the timeline. Of all the accounts we reviewed for this story, this was the only one where I thought the people Tweeting were actually enjoying themselves.

Improvements? GET MORE FOLLOWERS! How to do this? It might be too late to add the ampersand or change the name but I would investigate that as it does a while to work out how the brand is stylised in social media.

Best Tweet: 

JB Hi-Fi (@JBHiFi)
Tweeting Since: 23 July 2011
Bio: “Welcome to the Official Twitter account for JB Hi-Fi Australia!”
Followers: 8,381

A good number of followers and very regular updates make this one of the better Twitter accounts among electrical retailers. The focus of many Tweets is on music as the publicly listed retailer looks to promote its JB NOW streaming service. In addition to simply announcing availability, the JB team has quite a bit of fun with this, publishing their favourite songs of the year and uploading a Harlem Shake video. The JB social media team get extra credit for being topical: just minutes after Argo won the Oscar for Best Picture, they were already promoting its release on Blu-ray and DVD. Well played.

Improvements? The constant name-checking of celebrities, such as My Bloody Valentine, Adele and the Stereophonics, comes across as desperate. Do any of these stars ever respond?

Best Tweet: 

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