"Sorry" by Dave Keeshan, CC BY 4.0.

“Sorry” by Dave Keeshan, CC BY 4.0.

Hang out on Twitter long enough and you might notice something interesting about corporate brands: The frequency with which some of them tweet apologies sometimes seems to eclipse the rest of their social media efforts.

Ruth Page noticed this. Her findings were published by the Journal of Pragmatics, which is an organization that seeks to understand how language works in communicative and social interaction. Page’s research spans two years and indicates that Twitter corporate accounts use the word “sorry” nearly nine times more frequently than individuals. “Apologize” and “apology” occur in their tweets over seven times more frequently.

Telling as this is, corporate tweets included the word “regret” over 37 times more frequently than individuals. What’s more, during the time of the study, the amount of corporate tweets directed at individuals increased from 42% to 59%. Page notes this resulted because companies realized they needed to respond to complaints.

Sooner or later, as an individual representing your personal opinion on social media, you will offend someone and may have to apologize – but this this data from the corporate perspective seems a bit unbalanced.

Social media runs on the currency of opinions. Which begs the question: Can an entire company have just a single opinion? Or, by stepping into a realm more comfortably occupied by individuals, does a company risk brand equity because it must ignore the diversity of opinions held by the people it comprises?

If this is where you were hoping for insight or even an opinion, um–we regret that we are unable to do so and apologize. (That apology is only 88 characters, so it’s tweet-able.) Presently, this is only an observation hoping to generate your input.

What do you believe the role of a brand should occupy on social media?

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