By: Justin Flory and Matt Kelling
The first message on Twitter, commonly known as a tweet, was published on March 21, 2006 by current C.E.O and co-founder, Jack Dorsey. With many new launches in the next few years for the social media platform, (such as promoted tweets and hashtags) Twitter quickly became one of the most popular social media networks, as it changed the game for traditional media.
In 2009, an airplane crashed in the Hudson River of New York City. Twitter user Janis Krums, also known as @jkrums, picked up on the nearby crash and tweeted out to his followers, “There’s a plane in the Hudson. I’m on the ferry going to pick up the people. Crazy” along with a photo of the crash. Without even knowing it at the time, Krums shared breaking news on his personal Twitter account and broke the story before traditional media outlets and organizations even got to it. Krums changed the way news was gathered and proved that Twitter is a successful media and marketing outlet. The rest is history.
While Twitter has become a place where users gather information, listen to others, and engage in conversations, it’s also a place where people keep in touch with their favorite companies, brands, celebrities, and events. The platform has become a common place where companies can participate in unique marketing initiatives that their consumers can relate to.
To sum it up, Twitter has a short list of key features that connect its users. A tweet is simply just a message that users send out to their followers, or to everyone if their account is public. These messages are crafted in 140 characters or less and might be made up of photos, links, or videos. Users can respond to other people’s tweets by replying and they can share others’ tweets my retweeting. Retweeting enables users to put someone else’s message on their own feed and also allows users to comment or quote others’ messages. Users can acknowledge tweets without sharing as well, as a simple like does the job. Users can direct messages at other users by mentioning them publicly or sending them a direct message in a private inbox.
In terms of similar ideas spread on Twitter, hashtags are simple messages in the form of a word or sentence without spaces. The message is attached to a # symbol and allows users to search for a specific conversation on a specific topic. Popular hashtags appear in the trending topics section of Twitter. The site provides a search forum for users to look up keywords, as well as hashtags and users. Twitter users might also use lists, which are collections of users with similar interests that they can create, subscribe to, or become a member of. While seeing what their followers have to say on their own feeds, users can also scroll through Moments, which are top news stories selected by Twitter.
With over 320 million monthly active users, it’s hard to find someone who doesn’t have Twitter right at their fingertips. Through Twitter, consumers and marketers can build prosperous relationships with each other. Consumers can engage with brands in both positive and negative ways and users are able to tweet at companies in hopes that they will get a response. For example, many users tweet at airline brands when they’re unhappy with their travels. Often times, brands like Delta and American Airlines have an employee that is able to respond to angry and (sometimes) happy consumers. By tweeting at these consumers, people feel that they are being taken care of by a brand they use or trust. Companies are able to make their brand look good or bad through their responses because of this.
Other than interacting with consumers and building relationships, companies are able to participate in many marketing activities on Twitter. These include customer service, promoted and sponsored tweets, brand building, and promotional efforts. Using Twitter for customer service is done through responding to customer complaints, feedback, questions, or sharing (retweeting), and liking their content. Through purchasing a promoted tweet, companies can target specific audiences to reach more people, both followers and users who don’t necessarily follow the brand. Promoted tweets can help Twitter users become aware of a company, can help drive website traffic, as well as make users more familiar with what a company or brand does. Sponsored tweets are a little different than promoted tweets, as a company can pay someone else (an influencer) to promote their brand.
According to Twitter internal data, “69% of users are likely to buy from a business they follow on Twitter.” Twitter helps consumers decide what they like and dislike about a product or service and then act on it. Through Twitter, companies can create a consistent voice for their brand. This voice might be sophisticated or excited, depending on what the company is selling or trying to get across to its followers. Through a company’s account, customers can see pictures, logos, videos, and more, which teaches them about the company they like or are interested in.
Many companies also participate in putting their own promotions on Twitter. These might include free giveaways, contests, prizes, special deals, discounts, or one-time offers. For example, Applebee’s recently tweeted out to its followers, “Busy? We’ll meet you at the car with Applebee’s Carside To Go. Download our NEW app now & save $5 on your 1st order.” Companies are able to get more people in their door by providing special offers on areas where people will see it, such as on the official Applebee’s account.
Along with these marketing activities, companies also work toward marketing objectives that include building those same customer relationships, launching new products and services, building brand awareness, and targeting new customers. To carry out these activities and objectives successfully, Twitter provides Twitter Analytics for its users, both individuals and companies. Analytics consists of impressions to show how many times users see certain tweets and engagements that show how many times a user clicked on links in a tweet. Along with these features, audience insights shows companies the demographics, lifestyles, interests, consumer behaviors, and mobile footprints of their followers. Companies can use this data to compare their followers with other Twitter users as well. Twitter Analytics captures who is really following a specific company and how they can successfully engage with them on a daily
These lead to marketing tactics and how a company can use Twitter to successfully market their brand on the site. Companies should keep their tweets short and to the point. Users are limited to 140 characters, but the shorter, the better. Companies should use quality photos and videos because this makes their brand look better and more attractive to audiences. People like seeing pictures more than words as well, so these will capture more people’s attention. Companies should also be using relevant hashtags that relate to their brand and messages. They can use hashtags through regular tweets or can even create polls to ask their followers questions. Finally, companies should be connecting with their audience and followers. This involves replying, retweeting, and liking what their consumers and followers have to say. These actions will encourage better relationships and connections among consumers and brand interactions.
Marketing on Twitter can be both expensive and inexpensive, depending on how much a company chooses to bid or spend on promoted tweets, accounts, trends, or ads. Promoted tweets will appear in users’ feeds and can bring increased site traffic or brand awareness. These tweets typically run between $.50 and $2.00 per engagement (per click). Promoted accounts encourage users to follow them, as they appear in the ‘who to follow’ section of one’s Twitter account. These usually cost anywhere from $2.50 to $4.00 per follower. A little more expensive are promoted trends, (popular topics) which can cost close to $200,000 per day. Lastly, Twitter ads have no exact price tag because companies are encouraged to bid, but Twitter suggests that companies pay anywhere from $.10 to $23.00 for ads that include advertising methods like website clicks, follower campaigns, or video view campaigns. Either way, advertising on Twitter can be affordable for businesses of any kind, small or large.
Plenty of companies have succeeded with using Twitter as an effective marketing tool. Clean Air London, a non-profit organization, works to better air quality in London. The organization had hopes of increasing brand awareness by trying to reach out to more audiences with their message. They did this by targeting people they thought would be interested and used geo-targeting to reach people across the United Kingdom. They also targeted Twitter users who followed similar accounts like @MayorofLondon and @BBCBreakingNews. Clean Air London ended up getting double the amount of followers they originally had before the campaign started. From this, they found that three times more of users clicked on their links and 20% more users engaged with their posts.
While organizations like Clean Air London have done well though, some companies have failed with using Twitter as a marketing tool. The official Chrysler Autos account tweeted profanity out to its followers and the employee was later fired because of it. In return, the company apologized to its followers for the tweet, but the tweet can still be found all over the internet as a Twitter fail.
With the capabilities to better customer service, target audiences with promoted and sponsored tweets, promoted trends or accounts, and building a brand, Twitter is an effective marketing tool for all companies and organizations. Twitter allows companies to target new audiences, while keeping it interesting with their current consumers. Twitter has proven to help companies with great social media marketing success and continues to do so year after year.