Running an award-winning Twitter feed Article icon


In any job, winning an award for something you enjoy doing has to be the equivalent of the cherry on the cake. In our case, that ‘cherry’ was the CorpComms Digi Award for Best Corporate Social Media Account for our @avivaplc Twitter feed, which has more than 10,100 followers.

Designed with Aviva’s investors, business partners, and potential and existing employees in mind, the feed gives them news and insights into our business performance, what we do and what we stand for.

The great thing about working in social media is that it’s social. When we were starting out, five years ago, we talked to other organisations about what they had learnt. And, in turn, we’ve always been keen to share what we’ve learnt.

So here’s our recipe for creating a tasty Twitter offering:

Make it look good and appetising: Try to include as many images and graphics as possible – they’re 25 per cent more likely to be shared. We created a graphic jargon buster which helps to take the mystique out of financial and insurance terms, and every Wednesday is jargon-busting day. We also use stills from our company videos to increase awareness of our video content and to drive views on our corporate website, and YouTube.

Don’t use too many ingredients: Create a clear definition of what your feed stands for – and stick to it. At Aviva we’ve got simple, even edgy values – kill complexity, care more, never rest and create legacy. They are our yardstick; we try to ensure the majority of our content demonstrates how we are delivering against our values.

Not too sugary: Only good news doesn’t build credibility. So we tweet news about Aviva which is positive, but also news that is less good. For example, when we announced job losses in 2012 we shared this difficult message on the feed. When we retweet media coverage, our approach is that the coverage must absolutely be accurate and fair – but it’s not a requirement for it to be purely complimentary.

Avoid the stodge: Humans want to engage with other humans. Hayley’s face and name is on our profile, and we make sure the tone of our replies is warm and friendly. We always use a name in our direct messages. And we don’t just talk about financial stuff. We try to show the people within Aviva, and what they are up to, with photographs of events, links to speeches or a film of events, and we look for opportunities to engage on the issues of the day.

Use fresh ingredients: Each morning we review the Twitter activity of our key influencers and relevant accounts to identify what’s ‘hot’ and what opportunities there may be to participate in relevant conversations. We try to make sure we have flexibility to allow for unscheduled events – such as breaking news or unexpected government announcements.

Work out the best time to serve up: Use Twitter’s analytics tools to see when your content is most popular, either a day of the week or time of day, and schedule your activity to capitalise on the peaks in interest. Monitor how people respond to your content, such as retweets or hashtags, to work out which elements of your content get the best engagement and consider doing more of that.

Great creations take time: Creating a strong feed with good engagement levels is a long-term commitment – which means making sure you have the right resource in place to tweet regularly, monitor the feed and respond promptly.Your community manager might want to take a holiday, but your followers won’t, so you need to make sure you can continue to provide your service despite sickness, holidays and business demands.