Brands are continuing to look to Twitter as a marketing tool and are taking their strategies even further by embracing the innovative, interactive capabilities the platform presents.
There's no arguing Twitter's value as a marketing tool. From its ability to facilitate brand-consumer communication to its capacity for distributing information, Twitter has become a critical part of every social media marketing campaign.
It's also ingratiated itself with the real world. Newspapers reference tweets in their stories. Hashtags are painted on the sides of delivery trucks. There are few limits to how and where Twitter can be incorporated into promotional strategies, and fewer barriers between the digital and offline realms.
Over the course of this past summer, country artists Rascal Flatts and Jason Aldean performed in a series of concerts that afforded an opportunity to merge social media with an experiential campaign. Marketing agency Spalding Entertainment hoped to reward and celebrate the artists' fans, connect with them online, and learn more about them through social media and email. The result was a real-time contest; during the concerts, attendees were shown "Actiontags" - hashtags that include a call-to-action - on the Jumbotrons in the concert venues that invited them to "Enter for a Seat Upgrade! Tweet #Enter #BurnItDownTour."
With the help of marketing conversion platform Chirpify, which tracked the hashtags and responded to each entrant on behalf of the artist, concert-goers received a message and a link to enter the contest. The links connected them with a mobile conversion form used to collect email addresses and Twitter handles from fans.
Immediately before the main act began the winner was chosen, notified, and invited to a VIP seating area. By the time half of the concerts were over the artists had seen more than 10,000 fans tweet to enter the contest. In all, the posts have reached some 4.5 million social accounts, and as a result of the shows alone #enter #burnitdowntour has become a nationally trending Twitter topic.
"For the artists, this represents a way to reward and better understand their fans," says Kevin Tate, chief revenue officer of Chirpify. "It's a new way to link the Jumbotron and their fan club."
Twitter is all about connecting and sharing with others online, but some brands are taking its interactivity to new heights with the goal of helping customers visualize their products in real life. Last week, automaker Acura introduced a Twitter-based configurator tool that allows consumers to customize their ideal 2015 Acura TLX without leaving the social site.
The tool lets users to select their model, steering, and color before offering the option to tweet the result along with a call to action for others to try the tool on the Acura site ("Just built a 2015 Acura TLX with Twitter. I chose Black Copper Pearl. Your move.).
By creating a configurator tool for use on Twitter, Acura has hit on something we should all keep top of mind: the fact that interactivity serves no purpose for consumers unless it adds value, too. Acura's approach to social interactivity incorporates education and convenience, allowing potential customers to familiarize themselves with Acura's new model by inviting them to imagine how their dream car would look. The result is a personalized experience that guides consumers further down the purchase funnel...and to the auto dealer's door.
Brands are forever looking for ways to participate in consumer trends (a brand - Nike - was involved in what some say was the first ever Throwback Thursday, way back in 2006). This summer's incredibly viral ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is no exception. In recent months brands like Best Buy, Coca-Cola, the New England Patriots, Starbucks, Target, Volvo Cars of Canada, and Canada's TD Bank, have all posted videos - often on Twitter - of their executives and employees taking the challenge.
While the goal is ostensibly to raise money for ALS, one can't overlook the promotional value of taking part; TD Bank's video runs more than two minutes in length and has generated 21,000 views, and other brand videos have had similar success. Unlike #throwbackthursday, participating in a meme that has its roots in charity comes with elevated risk. Brands have been accused of exploiting the trend, and the trend itself has been accused of robbing ALS of its severity, but the Ice Bucket Challenge has resulted in "10 times the number of online donations every day" and done wonders to increase awareness of the disease. As noted by the media, the ice bucket is a gimmick, but it's good, and if approached in a respectful way there's no reason why brands can't leverage their high profiles to raise awareness for this and other worthy real-life causes.
Regardless of what you hope to achieve through marketing with Twitter, it's a flexible and versatile medium with oodles of potential for crossing over into the real world. Let's see what brands will do with it next.
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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