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Twitter has been one of the most popular social media platforms over the past decade and when brands are told that they need social media - it’s usually one of the sites that is used. But is Twitter slowly losing its effectiveness and is it time to jump ship and move onto emerging platforms instead?
Twitter has been the topic of many debates within our team and we’ve had many discussions about its place in eCommerce, whether an algorithmic news feed will work and whether Twitter advertising works. Whilst we’ve rarely questioned Facebook’s stability, Twitter has sparked many questions about when we should be recommending it to our own clients.
The social media site has
released its Q1 earnings this week and results are not as positive as many of us expected. Whilst it has seen a year-on-year increase in sales of 36%, it has also seen a rather significant slump of $110m compared to the previous quarter. Could this be the beginning of a serious decline?
We’re not writing the platform off just yet, as it still has a huge audience base and we are still seeing some positive results.
We’ve found that the platform has three key strengths - networking, journalism and influencer outreach.
It's very easy to find like-minded brands, new followers and industry experts either by using the search tool or by crawling through lists and once you’ve made that initial connection, you can start a conversation quickly. This is a strength that isn’t easily mimicked by Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat.
It’s also brilliant at being ‘live’ and being a useful hub for news. When a major global event hits, I always turn to Twitter to get my news as it’s happening and to see how people are reacting. Facebook’s algorithm means I sometimes don’t get my news immediately but by using Twitter, I can see updates almost in real time.
The platform is also perfect for keeping up with influencers and celebrities. Twitter saw the gap between celebrity and consumer close which hasn’t necessarily been successfully mimicked by other social sites (perhaps with the exception of Snapchat and to some extent, Instagram).
So Twitter does have its uses. But how can marketers take advantage of these?
With the emergence of conversational commerce and the changing landscape of customers demanding better service when ordering products, Twitter could potentially be an easier platform for this than the likes of Facebook.
Customers are shopping more online but they still want to ask questions about products, clarify delivery information and look for staff opinions on different styles - which is really easy for Twitter to do. Customers can simply send in a tweet and it’s just as easy for a brand to reply.
Whilst I follow and engage with plenty of brands online, I prefer to keep Facebook personal and use Twitter to keep up to date with my favourite brands - and this is a sentiment seen across many demographics. So if I had the opportunity to ask a brand about products, I may prefer to use Twitter.
Top Tip: Use Twitter to start conversations with customers instead of blindly broadcasting your brand.
Similarly, every industry has news. Whether you sell womens' shoes or roof tiles, your industry will most likely have events and news stories that you can share as part of your Twitter strategy. Using content and news as a core element of your plan, you can make sure that you use the platform in the most effective way and avoid wasting time and effort on self-promotion that is unlikely to have any impact on engagement.
Top Tip: Prioritise news and content as a core element of your Twitter strategy.
Yes, Twitter does make it easy to send messages quickly and easily to celebrities, but the thing to remember is that every industry has a celebrity. Every industry has influencers and thought leaders who can sometimes be hard to connect with outside of social media. But by using Twitter, you can reach out to them and ask questions and start building a relationship which could eventually lead to marketing opportunities.
Top Tip: Reach out to your industry’s influencers and begin building relationships with them through Twitter.
Twitter isn’t seeing a decline in sales for no reason - it does have flaws - so it’s important for brands to recognise how not to use Twitter.
One major flaw is how text-heavy the platform can get. Whilst you can use images, video and GIF content, there is still a lot of text on the site. We are seeing a huge rise in visual content and Instagram, Snapchat, Vine and YouTube all prioritise the visual.
We have seen reports that Twitter is trying to capitalise on video advertising more this year and they are also attempting to monopolise live streaming (which we’ve already seen with the Periscope app). I’ve already touched upon how Twitter’s strength is how live it is and so this could potentially be a really positive move for them. Brands should be producing as much visual content as it can to best engage users.
Another big flaw is how similar it is getting to Facebook. Twitter have attempted to mimic some of Facebook’s features so much so that some users don’t see the point in using the two. This is why Twitter should really take advantage of its own strengths and begin to differentiate it from other social sites.
But its not just Twitter’s fault. Marketers have crowded the platform and made it prime advertising space - broadcasting their services, case studies and offers to anybody and everybody. This is also turning users away to ad-free platforms where they can’t be pestered by brands.
Key Takeaway: To see results, marketers should stop seeing Twitter in the same way that they might see Facebook or Instagram and use it differently. Each social media platform has a different purpose, audience and use and so brands should identify how they can customise their strategy based on the platform.