Reflecting on Twitter’s Birthday: New Trends and Six Social Media Tips for Brands
By Kimberly Reyes, Communications Manager, Big Fuel
Twitter genesis stories often start out something like this: “On March 21st, 2006, Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey sent out the very first tweet…” But Jack himself will tell you a more romantic version – one that can be traced back to his fascination with cities, and the bicycle messengers and truck couriers who bustle about the metropolis to deliver packages.
The past six years can only be described as a period of significant change. America elected our first African-American President into office, we felt the devastating earthquakes in Haiti and Japan as an international community, and we’ve witnessed the beginning of the Arab Spring. And hundreds of millions of us experienced those events through Twitter. Passenger Janis Krums tweeted photos of the Miracle on the Hudson. Astronaut TJ Creamer tweeted from the International Space Station. Sohaib Athar “accidentally” tweeted the attack on Osama Bin Laden. News agencies went from being aware of the social platform, to competing with it, to using Twitter as a vital source of reactions to breaking news.
Arguably, Twitter has had a more profound effect on our lives than even Facebook. Twitter has answered the call of a world that demanded more, faster. We’re connecting more, sharing more, and talking more, instantaneously. Instead of simply recording our thoughts and memories, we now have the ability and even the impulse to report them in real time to a wide audience. Unlike its predecessors, Twitter rallies people not along existing social connections, but around topics of conversation, which has made it a useful tool for overcoming real-life factors for discrimination. By uniting strangers around common interests, Twitter has contributed to a culture of influencers – non-celebrities who impact the decisions of a community based on his or her expertise.
Dorsey’s dream of building out a digital city via SMS pales in comparison to the empire of 140 million citizens that Twitter is today. People are connecting and communicating at a dizzying rate of 340 million tweets a day. Everyone from celebrities to world leaders are contributing to the conversation. But nowhere are the effects of Twitter more obvious than in the business world.
Beyond being another platform for brands to engage with consumers, Twitter has become a forum where marketers can monitor conversations that are already taking place around their brand. Popular tools such as Twenda, Twitrratr, and Social Mention, in addition to more enterprise-scaled solutions, help marketers track sentiment around their brand, discover data about their users, identify microtargets, and interact with them effectively.
Twitter was also the first and most convenient way for brands to reach users on-the-go. Its mobile roots mean that users are often constantly logged in, no matter where they are, giving brands the opportunity to reach the consumer at the point of purchase. Twitter has also encouraged a culture of action, where users instinctively follow through on message prompts, such as clicking on a link or using a discount code.
Twitter has made a huge impact on how businesses handle customer relations. The @ComcastCares Twitter account has become a living case study of how businesses can properly respond to customer inquiries and complaints using the Twitter platform. It also allowed brands the opportunity to make the engagement personal through direct mentions and more in-depth conversations.
Finally, Twitter has opened up a whole new breed of businesses. From food trucks that tweet their locations throughout the day to licensed doctors who address patient inquiries via tweet, Twitter has become a playground for entrepreneurs to reinvent the way our world works, one tweet at a time.
So how can brands continue to leverage the power of Twitter?
- Invest in building a strategic architecture. Some large brands need more than one Twitter account. For instance, you may have a main account for branding purposes, where you interact with fans and provide content, but you may have an entirely separate account for customer service, and even one for special deals and offers. The same goes for businesses that are made up of sub-brands. Make sure that you brand channel management team is constantly communicating with each other to properly service your followers.
- Use the data wisely. As I mentioned earlier, Twitter is a goldmine for valuable, conversation-based data. Not only will you learn what people think about your brand, but you will learn more about your followers. It’s very easy to misuse the data you gather about your community and come off as “creepy” or inappropriate. It’s important that your analytics and strategy teams work together to properly interpret the intelligence you gather, and develop the right plan of action.
- Understand how Twitter integrates with other services. One of the best things about Twitter is that its open API can lead to much richer user experiences when combined with other social networks, apps, and software. Keep abreast of the latest plug-ins and use them to your advantage. As always, evaluate if it makes sense for your brand and fits into your business objectives. But tapping into the plethora of Twitter-compatible components will add a new and innovative dimension to how you interact with consumers.
Kimberly is the manager of communications at leading social media agency Big Fuel in NYC. In addition to managing Big Fuel’s owned social channels, Kimberly hosts thought leadership and other events, and coordinates public relations and marketing for the agency. Prior to joining Big Fuel, Kimberly managed internal and client marketing for digital innovation agency Zemoga, helping deliver award-winning digital marketing campaigns. Before Zemoga, Kimberly played an integral role in sales & marketing at social startup Store Adore, and led the Fashion/Beauty division at video production firm Vidicom.