How the Dictionary is Winning at Social Media

There is a way to use social media for every business. Yes, EVERY BUSINESS. You just need to work at it and be a little more creative in some cases. I’ve witnessed more than a few amazing social media accounts in the last few years, and more than a few unbelievably boring ones. What do you think might be the most boring industries you could possibly run a social media account for? Dry cleaners? A paper mill?

I hadn’t really ever thought too much about it until the Halifax Dartmouth Bridge Commission posted a video of the Angus L. MacDonald Bridge “doing” dubstep through its major renovation. Apparently, during a major renovation, a bridge-based account has a lot to discuss! Think closures, fixes, questions from wannabe engineers and photos from never-before-seen angles. It made me think about how just about any company can find a way to use social media if they’re creative enough.

And this week, I have a new, favourite “boring” company: Merriam-Webster. You know you’ve insulted people by saying “I’d rather read the dictionary”. That’s right. I’m officially reading the dictionary–on Twitter!

It's no longer an insult to say 'I'd rather read the dictionary: Click To Tweet

How Merriam-Webster is Winning Twitter

There are so many things to love about the Merriam-Webster Twitter feed, I actually turned on notifications for this account so I would be notified every time they tweet! It’s pretty simple, what they’re doing. They have the ability to see what definitions are being searched most every day, and they’re able to watch for spikes and changes. What they are doing is the definition of “real-time marketing” (ha! see what I did there?)

Here are a couple of examples:

Check out those dates. The ‘dotard’ tweet happened the day after that infamous speech by Kim Jong Un and the definitions of heal/heel/he’ll came within 24 hours of a certain President using the wrong spelling in a mid-night tweet frenzy. The dictionary is watching what is happening in the world, seeing how it’s reflected in their search algorithms and coming back with educational information. And they do it hilariously.

Having fun with Twitter formatting

Believe it or not, there’s a lot you can do in the formatting of a tweet that is only text. The above example defining heal/heel/he’ll used emoji to add some colour and catch the eye. Emoji are the only way to do that, though. If you’re a bit more creative with all those extra characters on your keyboard you can do things like this:

Explaining Twitter to…well…Twitter

Participating in wacky holidays

Commenting on pop culture

This is the tweet that started it all, for me. On the day Dr. Who fans learned the next Doctor would be female, and had a collective conniption fit, the dictionary tweeted:

Why I’m loving Merriam-Webster on Twitter

  1. They’re relevant.
  2. They’re using the data available to them to be relevant.
  3. They’re relatable.
  4. They’re educational.
  5. They’re funny.
  6. They totally get Twitter culture and aren’t afraid to use it.

If the dictionary can do it, so can you! Get creative with your data and what’s happening around the world.


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