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Think you’ve got trouble juggling Twitter accounts?
Then consider the case of Marvel Entertainment’s executive editorial director, Ryan Penagos.
His company’s accounts include Deadpool, tweeting for a comic-book mercenary and antihero. And the Avengers, promoting the movie about a team of superheroes seeking to (what else?) save the world from disaster.
The mix is crucial, says Penagos, Marvel Digital Media Group’s executive editorial director. “There’s so many things each handle needs to do,” he says.
The ease and immediacy of Twitter, along with the masses of crazily enthusiastic comic fans congregating there, made it an ideal place for multiple company voices.
Good for Marvel. But can you learn any techniques from action heroes when you’re tweeting for a cholesterol drug brand, tire maker, or government agency? Penagos thinks so.
Here are some tips:
Build your community.
Engagement is nothing new, Penagos says. It’s just that the means have changed. Marvel pioneer Stan Lee used to engage fans through the letters column.
Back in the 1960s, bestselling author George R.R. Martin, then a 16-year-old, wrote to Marvel to praise a past issue and offer advice on the characters. He suggested that the Hate-Monger (a clone of Hitler who created a Hate Ray) and Molecule Man (a lab technician who discovered new powers in—you guessed it—a radiation accident) “were great in their first appearance but still not worthy of returns.” Lee replied to the future writer.
The same kind of fan still abounds. “We always look at what we do at Marvel to be an extension of what was created back in the ’60s,” Penagos says. “That fan engagement, that community, has never gone away.”
Search for your fans. Retweet their photos. Mention when they’re up to something interesting.
Differentiate your Twitter feeds.
It won’t work if Deadpool (“two fists, two swords, four guns, and a total badass”) sounds just like Iron Man (“genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist”). Why do you maintain separate feeds? What different voices or information are you providing?
“If you can maintain your brand while veering off in a different way, it’s going to be huge for your followers,” Penagos says.
Marvel has a plethora of Twitter accounts for characters, movies, animation projects, and other arms of the company. Penagos is careful, though, not to just put them out there to put them out there.
Marvel doesn’t have many character accounts like the Deadpool one, because they’re difficult to pull off. They have to have a consistent voice, which is why Penagos handed Deadpool over to the comic’s editor and writer, though Penagos still contributes.
For other accounts, Penagos says he often just allows editors “to do their thing.” Penagos says he’s never had to delete a tweet someone wrote or otherwise call something back.
Don’t miss off-hour comments.
The five-person team that runs @Marvel doesn’t monitor it 24/7, but does often look back into the feed to make sure no one missed anything. Penagos sometimes replies to tweets directed at @Marvel as @AgentM, to give the reply a personal touch.
Penagos and Marvel have quite popular presences on other social media sites, particularly Tumblr, which has a comics section Penagos was even asked to curate.
Get verified Twitter accounts.
Work with Twitter to create verified accounts. If fans search for you and find a half-dozen accounts with your name in it, they’re less likely to follow any of them—even if the accounts are real.
“For a brand, that is crucial,” he says.
Every day, Marvel provides new content on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and other channels, Penagos says. Marvel creates panels and provide other content to targeted sub-audiences.
“Everywhere that they can find it, we want to make sure we’re giving them new content and fun content,” he says.
Respond to job-seekers.
Your biggest fans are the ones most likely to want to work for you. Where better to recruit? Post job openings and other useful news.
“I’m constantly asked, ‘How did you get into your job at Marvel?” Penagos says. “‘How do I get a job at Marvel? How do I take over your life?'”
Hire people who know and love your brand.
Why hire someone who’s just clocking in, bored with the job? Make sure they’re nuts about your organization.
Everyone on Penagos’s team has been a Marvel fan since childhood, Penagos says.
“Find those people; make sure that they are socially savvy. … If they can do that, give them the keys to running these things,” he says.
Don’t mix up your accounts.
Just don’t. Fans will notice if you tweet out of character—or from the wrong account.