A look at a selection of brands that are embracing the new capabilities of Twitter and using the platform to its full marketing potential, along with tips for ways you as a marketer can do the same for your own business.
Twitter users: have you noticed a trend? Has anything about the way companies are tweeting these days caught your eye? It seems that brands are doing a Twitter marketing about-face.
In other words, brand communications on Twitter are looking up.
We've seen a huge shift in the way brands have embraced and employed Twitter in recent years. Four years ago, just 10 percent of all tweets came from brands. In 2012, when Twitter had 500 million registered users, major brands were buying in, but the learning curve was steep and they made mistakes, particularly with regard to customer service interactions. By 2013 brands were tweeting four times more than they were in 2012, with the 10 most-followed brands tweeting every six to 20 minutes. It seemed their transformation from skeptics to Twitter devotees eager to make an impact was finally complete.
All of this isn't to say that brands don't still slip up, both with regard to the content of their posts and the way in which they respond to consumers. But look closely and you'll also find an excess of great content, savvy strategies, and engaging ads that suggest brands are really hitting their stride.
Consider the Art Institute of Chicago, which entices its 91,000 followers by posting archived photos that use the #tbt (#throwbackthursday) hashtag. By adopting the popular weekly custom, the museum is giving past exhibits and events a second run at the spotlight.
And take a look at AMC, whose feed is a video- and image-rich study in the visual Web. Its timely and high-impact posts highlight the best of its programming content. Even AMC's Promoted Tweets are powerful and memorable examples of visual marketing.
Then there are brands like Hyundai, which has not only mastered the art of the hashtag but built an entire World Cup campaign around it, too. By bringing #BecauseFutbol to Twitter, the automaker managed to inspire countless fan tweets honoring a love of the tournament that had the world talking.
These brands and others have found their social media marketing niche, and in so doing have helped to redefine the way the platform is approached. Twitter is a customer service tool, yes. It can be used to broadcast company news. But it's also a conduit for digital creativity, and it's there that many brands are making their home.
Here's how your business can do the same.
The Art Institute of Chicago's use of the #throwbackthursday hashtag demonstrates an understanding of the Twitter ecosystem and a playfulness that consumers can relate to. It also creates an opportunity to republish noteworthy photographs. It's a trick that isn't only relevant for museums that specialize in art and culture; brands like UPS, BMW, and People Magazine all use the tag as an excuse to dig up interesting old content, give it new relevance, and extend its life online. It's Twitter-based brand storytelling at its best.
Since Twitter gave rich tweets a prominent design boost and began allowing for collages, or multi-photo tweets, images are one of the best ways to get consumers' attention. Twitter reports that photos posted from verified accounts result in a 35 percent boost in retweets on average, while the inclusion of a video URL can increase shares by 28 percent. AMC consistently posts multiple visual tweets daily, many of them with calls-to-action that encourage users to reply or visit branded quizzes on the AMC site.
There's always the fear that a campaign hashtag will be misappropriated and misused with humiliating results. That said, a well-crafted tag buttressed by a solid campaign strategy has the potential to elevate a concept and dramatically expand its reach. Hyundai's #becausefutbol is memorable, culturally relevant, and uses language that resonates with young soccer fans. That makes it an ideal fit for Twitter.
Good on these brands for nudging Twitter marketing to the next level. The future is looking bright.
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Tessa Wegert is a business reporter and former media strategist specializing in digital. In addition to writing for ClickZ since 2002, she has contributed to such publications as USA Today, Marketing Magazine, Mashable, and The Globe and Mail. Tessa manages marketing and communications for Enlighten, one of the first full-service digital marketing strategy agencies servicing such brands as Bioré, Food Network, illy, and Hunter Douglas. She has been working in online media since 1999.
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