Twitter has become an everyday habit for many of us, but its purpose and how we are using it is very much changing.
When the channel hit its highest growth peak in 2009, marketers were still yet to determine how to optimise Twitter for business growth, with the benefits of the channel lying more in personal use. However, not a week goes by these days without a new brand campaign. As Twitter adapts its channel to make it more marketing friendly, brands are adapting their content marketing strategies to include this vital tool. And it hasn’t stopped at brands – personalities across the globe are flocking to Twitter rather than Facebook to share ‘selfie’ pics and communicate with the world. So what’s changed?
The rise of the hashtag
Looking at trends during 2009, it’s evident that hashtags were the dominant way to search for and create trending information about current events, such as #iranelection, #bsg (Battlestar Galactica) and #amazonfail. Data tells us that tweets with hashtags received two times more engagement than those without. It’s also a numbers game, as tweets with one or two hashtags had a 21 per cent higher engagement rate than those with three or more.
As brands became more involved in the Twittersphere and the hashtag turned into a phenomenon (not just on Twitter, but everywhere else), Twitter saw new potential for the channel and rolled out several new tools for brands to experiment with.
Welcome, Twitter Cards! Twitter integrated a number of new ways for brands to have more in-depth one-to-one conversations and longer customer relationships. The social media giant realised that whether launching a campaign, plugging a product or raising awareness, every tweet could drive an action. So they came up with these:
- Summary card with images: Puts your images front and centre in the tweet.
- Player card: Integrates media experiences that play in the tweet, such as audio and video.
- Product card: Showcases your product and key details in the tweet; deep linking shortens the distance to the conversation.
- Lead generation card: Captures user details directly from within a tweet with prefilled information.
- Mobile app card: Shows app name, description, icon and highlighted information.
- Vine app: Six-second videos that loop and allow for stop motion.
Twitter Cards are being widely used by brands to produce creative content that gives their brand an edge and reason for engagement. And as we have seen it has been the image and player cards that have taken over and made Twitter the visual channel it is today.
Twitter goes visual
Given that 90 per cent of the information the brain processes is visual, it is only natural that the change has affected user interaction and engagement with the content. A recent study showed that since Twitter changed the layout, posts with images had an average of 35 per cent boost in retweets and posts with videos had an average of 28 per cent boost in retweets.
The evolution of Twitter has represented a huge opportunity for brands, which have been among the first to creatively use the redesign to their advantage. Brands like Oreo, Taco Bell and Ben & Jerry’s are now using images or video in an average of 60 per cent of their tweets.
Integrating the Vine platform to create short, fun videos has also been a great way to creatively interact with the audience and increase their response and retweet rate. But however effective an image can be, brands have to be careful to use the right source to have the desired engagement. Another study showed that while tweets using pic.Twitter were 94 per cent more likely to be retweeted, tweets including Instagram links were 42 per cent less likely to be retweeted.
The moral of the story? When on Twitter, use images – a lot of them. But use them wisely.
By Claire O’Dowd & Catalina Beltran