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This post was inspired by a random lunch with a profane Welshman.

I use Tweetdeck in an attempt to impose some order on the real time opinion and content assault that results from following several hundred people.

Most of that content can be filed under ‘professionally useful”.

Some generous, well-read and well connected people save me a lot of time that would otherwise be wasted on Google, trying to stay on top of ‘stuff’.

But there are several people, and I probably really can count them on the fingers of one hand, who are defined (for me) on Twitter as much by their tone of voice as by their content.

I’m not talking about Twitter accounts whose sole purpose is to shock or entertain.

I’m talking about real people who don’t hold back when they tweet. They log on to Twitter with the safety catch off.

The result can be entertaining, extremely funny, emotionally raw, sometimes shocking, or downright unhinged.

And they light Tweetdeck up with the force of their personality.

I’d love to give specific examples, other than the one above, but that would be wrong.

Dan (aka @adlandsuit) writes funny, sweary stuff about cricket, rugby and reality TV, and he insults his friends. He also gave me the nod to feature one of his tweets.

Most of the other people I’m referring to are charismatic on Twitter because they pour their hearts out and/or don’t engage brain before tweeting (in a good way).

What they say feels incredibly private albeit on a highly public platform. They’re for me to know and you to find out. Sorry.

The point is that personality allows a few people out of several hundred to stand out from the crowd.

Very few brands manage to pull the same trick. Not just on Twitter. I mean anywhere.

I’ve been fortunate to work with Adam and co. from EatBigFish on a couple of occasions.

Adam literally wrote the book on Challenger Brand theory.

And one of the characteristics of a Challenger Brand is what EatBigFish call a Lighthouse Identity.

Most brands spend fortunes on research to get as much information and insight about their audiences as they can. Then they effectively navigate by that insight, allowing it to influence the brand’s behaviour.

By contrast, Challenger Brands say ‘Bugger that. This is what I stand for and you (target audience) can bloody well navigate by me (as you would navigate by a lighthouse).’

The Twitter ‘few’ definitely have lighthouse identities.

Everyone is talking about ‘earned media‘.

But not everyone has grapsed the fact that earned media have to be, well, earned.

Nor that a charismatic personality is a good way to increase your media earning potential.

For as long as I’ve been in the business I’ve sat in meetings and joined in with ‘If this brand were a person it would be….’ exercises.

These exercises are pretty much guaranteed to generate a list of usual suspect celebrities (regardless of brand or market sector) and they almost always translate into a sterilised, sanitised list of vanilla adjectives in the tone of voice section of the resulting brief.

Brands used to get away with this when whacking any old shit on telly would have a positive commercial effect.

But it’s not a case of ‘If this brand were a person…’ any more.

In social spaces and in earned media, brands really are the people behind them.

And the charismatic brands will be those that allow the people behind them to actually behave like human beings.

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