What’s the Real Value of Twitter for Brands?

For brands, the key objective on all social platforms remains consumer engagement. Because content-focused social promotions are a perfect means for fuelling engagement — and Twitter is an unmatched platform for broadcasting content — the opportunities for delivering promotions on this platform are enticing.

So what kinds of social promotions are most successful on Twitter? Generally speaking, those that foster a sense of urgency and ask for immediate participation elicit the best results. Examples include short-term contests, instant-win sweepstakes (particularly those with multiple daily prizes), “limited-time” coupons, and voting campaigns. Social promotions that ask followers to submit brand-themed photo content or comments using hashtags also work extremely well. Moreover, brands can retweet (and share on other platforms) choice user-generated content from these campaigns, helping to meet the neverending challenge of delivering interesting, relevant, original content.

That said, which brands seem to “get” marketing on Twitter and what can we learn from them? Let’s take a look.

Just the other week, Kohl’s announced a Twitter-powered voting campaign: fans are asked to decide what their celebrity spokesperson, Jennifer Lopez, should wear, as well as which JLo action comedy vignettes should be aired during the American Music Awards TV event. In a brave nod to “real time” marketing on Black Friday, Best Buy asked fans to Tweet videos of their waiting-in-line experience to the Twitter hashtag #VineInLine.


But let’s take this a step further. Think about the potential of brands combining these types of Twitter promotions with real-time TV viewing. In July, Twitter announced the results of brand campaigns that used its TV ad targeting products. Given our inclination to interact with both the first and second screen while on the sofa, this should become an exciting area of marketing, particularly for entertainment and sports-related brands in 2014.

Conversely, Coca Cola seems to have missed an opportunity earlier this year. During last year’s Super Bowl, Coca Cola let viewers vote — via a microsite — for their preferred commercial ending during the Super Bowl. How much more exciting would it have been to let that happen through hashtags on Twitter using Promoted Tweets? Real-time voting and participation on Twitter during significant live TV events — as shown by Twitter Amplify brand engagement activity — will be an interesting area to watch in 2014.

Particularly on Twitter, it’s absolutely critical to avoid friction-filled forms and steps at that first touchpoint, especially those that are in any way mobile-unfriendly. As we have pointed out, the majority of Twitter users are young, mobile and educated. They are digitally savvy. They know what they’re doing and they won’t waste time. Brands must avoid experiences that require users to jump through hoops. “Nah, forget this… I can’t be bothered,” will happen within moments! Tools on the back-end to moderate and pick winners need to be where the heavy lifting occurs, not at that first consumer touchpoint.

The CokeZero team did this well with their #Motherpieces campaign. Only if submissions won did participants have to do something slightly difficult, by which time they were probably happy to comply because they’d already been picked! By comparison, Jockey’s recent #guysonsunday campaign (admittedly on Instagram and not on Twitter) is an example of too much friction. The Jockey campaign requires multiple, time consuming, mobile steps to complete. I suspect that #Motherpieces beat #GuysOnSunday in terms of content submissions and participation.

2014 will see all major social platforms — Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest and Tumblr — delivering more sophisticated, advertising-friendly products of all types. Now that brands have access to decent listening, monitoring and measuring tools, it’s time to go beyond simply monitoring the social beast, to embracing proactive social marketing that generates great conversations. Here’s to a content-filled, social 2014 for brands!

Title image courtesy of Shutterstock

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