Published by on December 11, 2016

There are few personas that are quite as eccentric and brash as Sir Alan Sugar’s; so it is no real surprise that Twitter does not quite know how to handle him. Lord Sugar’s reputation on social media platforms such as Twitter has brought him a lot of attention, and not all of it has been positive. In fact, his online presence is best described as controversial – but it does not seem to faze him.

For many businesses, brands and faces online, a bad spell of controversy could cripple their reputation. However, Sugar’s stance seems to be that controversy breeds popularity – and it is paying off for him. The key to his success in the face of many gaffs online seems to stem from his harsh, unapologetic honesty. Whether it is a complaint about the recent Brexit result, or a racist jab at the Chinese industry, Alan Sugar’s Twitter feed is essentially a direct line into his thoughts of the world.

The brutal honesty that Lord Sugar portrays online complements his celebrity persona to a tee – and of course it also makes for a compelling read. This post hopes to delve into the enigmatic magnates presence on Twitter and examine how he decides to handle social media, ultimately to his benefit.

Thriving on Controversy

One of the key facets of Lord Sugar’s online persona is his unwavering inability to hold back. When you scroll through his Twitter feed, you will find a completely unadulterated river of Sugar logic. Whether or not you agree with what he says is – oftentimes – irrelevant for Sugar, provided there is a discussion about it. No press is bad press for someone as big as Lord Sugar, so he channels this to create an honest image of himself online.

Now, this is not a tactic that would work for everyone. It would be hard to imagine a brand such as Nestle trying to survive the media backlash if their Twitter feed was anything like Sugar’s. The UK Apprentice star has urged individuals to shut up on Twitter 393 times, a feat that is nothing short of impressive. What’s more impressive, though, is that all of the crass opinion seems to only add fuel to the fire that is Sir Alan Sugar’s provocative brand and identity.

One of Lord Sugar’s more recent controversies on Twitter surrounded the Brexit vote. On the eve of the final vote, Sir Sugar tweeted:

The media mogul was instantly bombarded with criticism for what many deemed an incredibly racist remark. Lord Sugar was defiant in his stance, however, and continued by calling critics, ‘ignorant fools’, and suggesting that they ‘crawl back under their rock’.

For many, this type of attention could bury their brand for good – but not for Lord Sugar. Instead, people flock to view his unabashed rhetoric with glee, ultimately reinforcing his online presence.

Honesty is the Best Policy… For Sugar

It is undeniable that Lord Sugar’s approach to Twitter is oddly refreshing. There is a large degree of commercialization, blatant marketing and advertising found on other big brand and celebrity feeds. Whether it is a constant stream of reminders about a new product or appearance on television, celebrities and companies tend to use Twitter primarily as a form of advertisement. Sugar shuns this notion, though. Instead, he opts for a transparent, ‘what you see is what you get’ presence online – and it has worked tremendously well for him.

Now, Sir Alan Sugar is unique in that he manages to get away with his controversial, unapologetic and harsh statements he makes on Twitter. Were it not for his brash persona, odd charisma and entertaining television persona, it would not take long for brigades of Twitter users to start harassing and condemning him. However, people trust Sugar’s words because they know all about him already – as the angry boss of the UK Apprentice, or as a business magnate with bravado. Lord Sugar’s public image is already cemented in the public domain, and as a result what he says appears to us as an honest interpretation of his views on the world.

The Importance of Honesty on Twitter

Trust is a rare commodity online, especially when it comes to brands. We are often inundated with tweets that read more like advertisements, and it is easy to forget that there is a person making those tweets. This does nothing to harness the potential of Twitter to build relationships, which is – for many – what it is all about.

Using Twitter righteously involves a lot of honesty, because it nurtures relationships that are built on trust. Whether they are customers, clients or prospects – you should think about the person behind the screen. Make it a real connection, instead of a sales pitch or a new blog that will reinforce your identity as an industry expert. Sir Alan Sugar certainly keeps his business pitches as far away from Twitter as possible, and it works out well enough for him.