Just 10 years ago, a tweet was the sound a small bird might emit, but today, tweeting carries a completely different connotation. Twitter doesn’t just provide a platform where users can rant about their political ideologies or post links to cheesy YouTube videos. It’s also a viable medium for growing your business. Twitter’s influence on marketing has quickly expanded to today’s must have strategy.
As of March 21, 2016, Twitter has existed for a decade. If you run a business or a marketing agency, understanding and leveraging Twitter’s influence on the marketing industry has become critical. Let’s take a look at Twitter’s unparalleled ascension from a relatively unknown social platform to one of the top social media sites.
Twitter’s Beginnings: The Bird Gets Its Wings
Image via Flickr by hankenstein
Like Facebook, Twitter traces its roots to a university dorm room. Jack Dorsey, one of the platform’s founders, attended New York University and envisioned a website that would allow small groups of people to communicate electronically through SMS. He pitched the idea during his employer’s hackathon, inspiring his bosses’ imaginations. Dorsey sent the first tweet on March 21, 2006, using the platform’s original name: “just setting up my twttr.”
Eventually, the company changed the name to Twitter and secured the Twitter.com domain. User numbers steadily grew through promotional efforts and platform upgrades as more people recognized the benefits of brief messages. In 2010, Twitter launched promoted tweets, which served as an advertising medium for marketers, as well as launching its official mobile app.
The company went public in 2013, and although it has endured falling stock prices and declining user engagement, it remains an excellent source of marketing potential for active brands.
Twitter Today: Tweets Heard ’Round the World
While Twitter started as a text-based medium through which users could publish 140-character insights, quotes, and other information, it has become a multimedia powerhouse. The most successful users often post images, videos, and hashtags, along with interactive media, such as polls and surveys. They also participate in multi-user conversations, some of which span days.
Twitter’s 310 million active monthly users send hundreds of thousands of tweets every minute. While many of those tweets involve personal communications, businesses also use Twitter aggressively to promote their brands and gain market share.
Twitter’s Future: Flying Into the Sunset
In an interview with Sarah Frier, Felix Gillette, and Brad Stone for Bloomberg Businessweek, Dorsey hints at several possibilities for Twitter’s future, including expanded advertising opportunities and increased conversational functionality to facilitate long-term chats between users.
Additionally, Dorsey notes that “independent of the visual medium, text always has a place in the world.” While visually oriented social platforms like Instagram and Snapchat might steal some of Twitter’s limelight, Dorsey believes that Twitter will remain relevant, particularly concerning major public events. Whether it’s a ball game or a political election, people flock to Twitter to share their opinions and update their followers in real time.
Twitter Masters: Companies With the Best Strategies
Some companies have proved particularly adept at leveraging Twitter for increased market share and sales conversions. Many businesses have set up multiple corporate accounts for different purposes. Here are a few examples:
- Customer service
- New promotions
- Public outreach
- Tech support
Writing for AdWeek’s PRNewser, Patrick Coffee calls Nike Support’s Twitter account the “gold standard” when it comes to giving outstanding customer support through social media. The company responds to customers’ questions, both large and small, and directs them to other resources for more information. Coffee names XBox, UPS, and Zappos as other significant examples of Twitter customer service.
Meanwhile, smoothie company Innocent Drinks takes a completely different approach to Twitter. It posts amusing, entertaining, or insightful tweets, engaging its audience through humor and kindness. The company’s Twitter account rarely mentions its own products, and when it does discuss smoothies, the reference is usually peripheral to some other event or topic.
Major League Baseball doesn’t rest on its laurels, either. It has an MLB Stat of the Day Twitter account where it posts interesting statistics and accompanying video snippets. You might also learn a few things from GoPro, which has refined animated GIF usage and leveraged it for increased visibility on Twitter.
Twitter Tips: Feathers of Wisdom for Marketers
For many companies, Twitter has become an integral part of their content marketing strategies. To garner more attention and delight your customers, you can follow these latest Twitter best practices:
- Frequency: Don’t post more than one or two promotional tweets per day. You can send as many tweets as you want, but don’t post unless you can share something relevant, amusing, educational, or inspiring.
- Following: Depending on the size of your audience, you might want to follow back your followers. They can then direct-message (DM) your account with feedback or questions. However, don’t do this if you have thousands of followers, or you’ll find your account consumed with noise.
- Content: Mix up your content with text, images, video clips, and other media. Your account will become more visually engaging.
- Hashtags: Use hashtags to clarify your messages and gain visibility. Consider testing different hashtags and measuring engagement to decide which hashtags perform best for your business. If you’re feeling bold, create your own hashtags.
- Proofing: Never send a Tweet unless someone else on your team reads it first. Twitter scandals have erupted over hastily sent tweets that weren’t meant to offend others, but came off the wrong way.
You can follow in other brands’ footsteps and create separate Twitter accounts for different purposes. This practice helps you cultivate a specific audience and avoid alienating followers who might not express interest in certain types of tweets. However, if you’re running a small business, stick to one account for simplicity.
Finally, focus on brand consistency in your tweets. Whatever qualities and culture you’ve developed in-house and online should continue on social media. Otherwise, your tweets will seem dissonant and inauthentic, which could hurt your brand rather than helping it.
Twitter offers just one solution when you want to increase your brand visibility and garner more attention online. Use Twitter to amplify your other content marketing efforts so more people connect with your business and associate it with your brand image.