The Figaro digital marketing conference recently took place in the grand Royal College of Physicians building in Regents Park, London. In an informative day of wide ranging talks from email marketing to content marketing to smart cities, the day’s most engaging talk belonged to comedian, writer and founder of social media agency That Lot, David Schneider.

In a typically entertaining talk, David took delegates through some of his agency's work and strategies on getting maximum ‘cut-through’ on Twitter. He extolled the use of steering clear of brand guidelines, being human and using a mixture of information, insight and humour to maximise engagement. In his opinion, being likeable, tangential and funny works.

It was a talk that raised some interesting questions and the sorts of questions that most commentators have been asking for years about conduct on social platforms; to what extent do brands need to rigidly stick to a defined tone of voice on social platforms? Do their target audiences want a conversation with a corporate spokesperson or a ‘real’ person? To what extent should a brand’s social strategy on Twitter be about gaining as many retweets and likes as possible?

The raft of opinion around these questions could easily fill a 500 word blog for each one.  But in my view the answer to the above questions is simple enough to be defined in a two word answer: it depends. Largely upon what the strategy is for that particular brand.

‘Strategy’ is one of those words that is used far too freely, often used incorrectly instead of ‘tactics’ or as a catchall for any piece of work that doesn’t fit neatly into another category. However, it is important when it comes to social platforms.

Being irreverent, humorous or personable on Twitter may work for some brands rather well and for some not at all. But until you do the hard work of gaining insights into the industry, audience, brand and technical context that your business operates in and develop a KPI driven digital marketing strategy, you run the risk of being tangential and laughed at but not necessarily for all the right reasons.