When Twitter first launched, back in 2006, it was a revolutionary tool used to share people’s instantaneous thoughts. For some, that included tweeting when they were bored or tired. For others, this included subtweeting friends when in a fight. However, at its core, Twitter has, and continues to be, a platform which pushes conversation about breaking news. But what about Twitter for business?
Because of its unique position as a social network, the question rises whether or not Twitter is a good platform for brand strategy. Though some brands see success in running content on Twitter—think Oreo, Denny’s, Wendy’s, or The Weather Channel’s Tornado Week —there are few companies that actually find success in building a brand on this platform.
Since its inception 15 years ago, Twitter has been built for current events and the commentary surrounding them. And while there are plentiful alternatives, there are still some ways to get your brand noticed.
History of Twitter
Twitter originated in 2006 when Noah Glass, Jack Dorsey, Biz Stone, and Evan Williams played with the idea of using text messages as a means to share statuses. In August 2006, current Twitter users tweeted about a 4.4 earthquake in California; from here, Twitter continued to evolve as a platform used for live reporting of events.
Since its birth, Twitter has reworked its platform interface, launched the use of hashtags, simplified its logo, and also launched new, innovative apps into the social space such as Vine. From 2010 on, Twitter has spent increased time building and launching features to fight bullying, harassment, hate speech, and most recently, misinformation on its platform. In 2015, Twitter also rolled out a political transparency page to increase conversation about politics and policy issues on the platform.
Since its birth, Twitter has always been a news-sharing platform and has spent much of its effort working to enhance and improve the share of conversation surrounding current events. Twitter even describes itself as, “what’s happening in the world and what people are talking about right now. From breaking news and entertainment to sports, politics, and everyday interests, see every side of the story.”
Twitter’s current priorities in 2021
While Twitter for business is an entire section of the platform’s website, brand-building is not a company priority. This is evident in the core goals Twitter worked to accomplish since 2020. According to a Letter to Shareholders published by Twitter in Q2 of 2020, Twitter’s current priorities include the following:
- As an organization, Twitter continues to push the use of its platform for conversation. A significant change made in 2020 was the expansion of personal controls over who can reply to tweets. Part of this effort to promote conversation includes a reduction in hate speech and abuse as well as misinformation through monitoring tweets.
- Twitter encourages the amplification of conversation around digital television and movie releases, as well as virtual concerts.
- The news-sharing platform also prioritizes organizing content to make it easier for people to find what they are looking for. Their prioritization includes making more news and location-based topics relevant in Twitter user’s feeds.
Why Twitter for business is difficult
In a 2014 survey of over 4,700 social media consumers, Twitter users are described as the heaviest consumers of news compared to other social media users. The survey also stated that the more time someone spends on this platform, the more likely they are to consume increased news.
Twitter users, though actively consuming news media, often participate more on the platform when there is breaking news. All of this information points to Twitter as an excellent platform for news media organizations. It’s also great for brands that work in industries with regular news updates and breaking news. However, it also confirms Twitter is not built for general brand-building.
Unfortunately, brands do not have much room to thrive with news organizations monopolizing so much of the conversation surrounding current events. Additionally, building out more opportunity for brand exposure isn’t a top priority for Twitter. Because Twitter is such a fast-moving platform, the return on investment is often low; a brand must be constantly creating and pushing out content. Brands’ tweets need to be clever, witty, and should stand out against the competing conversation surrounding current events. Many companies struggle with this “off-brand” type of content, Twitter for business growth can be extremely challenging.
While Twitter for business is not impossible, it requires an immense about of strategy and brand innovation.
Suggested platforms to drive brand awareness
One of the greatest platforms in 2021 for brands is LinkedIn. Originally a job board, LinkedIn sits in a unique position in the social world. People use Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Pinterest to fill up free time, but use LinkedIn to a) look for jobs b) learn more about companies or c) network with individuals. When looking for a place to build out an organic and paid space for your brand, LinkedIn is a great solution as most people on the platform are there to network or learn specifically about companies or job opportunities.
In 2020, Instagram rolled out a new update which added a widget on its menu for shopping. Here, users can browse a variety of shopping options and also browse specific shops and their brand pages. Additionally, Instagram Stories provide increased opportunities for viewership and engagement with content. Since they operate with a different algorithm than other Instagram content, Instagram Stories can reach a larger audience than in-feed posts. And with over one billion monthly active users, Instagram provides a massive audience. These range from luxury car brands to small insurance companies and beauty organizations. Plus, Instagram is a platform offering opportunities to reach out to specific audiences.
Suggestions if you choose Twitter for Business
Depending on your industry and brand, you might still choose to designate time and effort to your brand’s Twitter page. If so, we suggest incorporating the following ideas into your brand strategy:
- Run news-related content on your brand’s Twitter page. As previously mentioned, Twitter has primarily become a platform used for news. And according to Statista, Twitter is the most widely used social network for consuming news.
- Utilize GIFs in your tweets. A study by Twitter states that tweets which use GIFS received 55% more engagement than regular tweets. Additionally, only 2% of total tweets include GIFs – a great opportunity for business accounts.
- Create live-streamed events for your brand. In 2020, Twitter collaborated with organizations such as ESPN and Global Citizen to promote live-streamed events. These events are not going anywhere and might be an appropriate way to use Twitter for your brand.
- Develop the emotional side of your brand on Twitter. According to Twitter, “Twitter’s timeline generates +31% higher emotional connection and +28% higher levels of memorability versus the social media average.” Based on this stat, utilizing a more emotional tone, where appropriate, could be a good use of effort on this platform.
While Twitter for business is not impossible, it requires an immense about of strategy and brand innovation. If you are working on a budget or have limited resources, consider looking elsewhere to build your brand.