Twitter is a troubled 10, but brands shouldn’t worry about that


21st March 2006.

Jack Dorsey sends the first ever tweet: “just setting up my twttr”

And now the company claims to have reached 320m monthly active users include celebrities, politicians and quite a number of trolls too.

Even as its revenues grow, its stock market shares are in a slump. Almost half what they were in 2013 when it floated. The naysayers are out in full. Predicting the demise of the platform as it heads into its tweens.

Yes, Twitter has had its ups and downs. Dorsey was made to leave and then returned. Platform growth has stalled. Stephen Fry has left (delightfully likening Twitter to a swimming pool full of pee). There is a palpable anxiety about Twitter’s future. Not helped by the fact that Dorsey and his team seem to be constantly experimenting with the little blue bird.

Granted, Twitter appears to be trapped between the young upstart, Snapchat, and the rapidly aging Facebook (whose demographic is growing older and older). But having been in social media marketing for almost 12 years (when MySpace was in its heyday), I don’t think brands should worry too much about the next ten years.

It isn’t over till it’s over. Twitter is unpredictable, unruly and full of surprises. It is still an essential tool for the media, journalists, pop stars and activists alike. And right now, it is a valuable channel for brands.

Twitter gives brands unique ways to communicate and understand customers that other platforms can’t quite manage yet…

A window into customer behaviours

According to Clement Levallois, assistant professor at EMLYON Business School: “Twitter is the only source of large scale, real time, publicly available conversations on a wide range of topics today. As such, this provides an invaluable resource to listen to the “pulse” of societies at the micro or macro level”

Conversations are public (mostly) and twitterers use natural, every day, language. Linguistic analysis can tell us if people are happy or sad (take a look at hedonometer), draw correlations with heart disease, and even why and how we make purchase decisions. From a brand perspective, Twitter allows us to focus on developing real-time personas, understand motivations and intentions of customers, plot customer journeys and develop content that will resonate with audiences.

Moments, micro-moment and real-time

I don’t mean the Moments tab that appeared a few months ago (personally, I can’t quite get into that new feature).

I mean everything from big events such as sports, national days, ceremonies etc to micro-moments. Micro-moments can be anything from a rush of tweets at a B2B event on a specific topic, to trends that come and go in real-time. The most predictable of all micro-moment is that associated with TV.  Just take a look at Twitter around BBCs Question Time (#bbcqt). According to a recent study, TV advertisers running concurrent Twitter ad campaigns during a TV program saw an average 9% lift in ad recall.

Brands that ‘own’ these differing types of moments gain more traction and value. Tapping into the zeitgeist and the emotional with just a few tweets.

Twitter advertising bears fruit

90% of Twitter’s revenue is from ads and it is expected to own 9% of the digital ad spend this year. Whilst that is great for Twitter, it is also indicative of the value brands see from being able to reach beyond demographics and interests. Paid posts on Twitter allows companies to target behaviours and keywords – letting brands to hone and filter communications to be highly relevant.

Customer care is essential on Twitter

We can’t leave out customer service when it comes to Twitter. In fact, there is recent evidence that customers will pay more to brands that respond to customer care tweets. Tweets directed at brands have increased 2 fold in the last 2 years. Consumers expect a response. And they can tip a brand into a crisis if they don’t get one!

Oh and we must mention live streaming

Live streaming was hot topic at last year’s SXSW. Now it is mainstream. Meerkat has fallen by the wayside, and instead Periscope, the Twitter owned platform, has grown to over 10m followers. Now with GoPro integration, we’ll be sure to see a lot more slightly wonky, more genuine, videos, in real-time. For companies, this offers a whole new avenue for creativity. A chance to use mobile friendly video, brand personality and being in the ‘moment’ to capture attention and the hearts of customers!

Whatever the future for the iconic blue bird, brands cannot afford to miss the opportunity that Twitter offers. Sometimes we need to worry less about prediction and instead focus on the now. And right now, Twitter is working from marketers.

So happy birthday Twitter. Hope you celebrate in style – and we’ll raise a glass or two to your weird and wonderful network.

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