Back in February 2016, Twitter was in a bad place. Their share price sat at a measly $14, employees left or were laid off in droves and #RIPTwitter was trending on their own platform – the irony of which is not lost on us. But a lot has changed for the (formerly) struggling network since that premature proclamation was made a little over two years ago. Contrary to what you might have heard, Twitter is back and better than ever.
The site now claims to be sitting pretty with 336 million monthly active users (up from 328 million a year ago), and that their revenue is up 21% in the first quarter of 2018 – both incredibly positive and quantitative signs that Twitter is back on the rise again. Over the past few years, they’ve gone through a number of changes, mostly surrounding trimming the fat and drilling down on one specific area – news. They dumped technology like the popular Vine, Fabric, and TellApart (which they’d spent millions on acquiring and developing), they let go of a ton of employees (most claimed the environment was toxic anyway), and to solidify the refocus, in April 2016 they moved to the News section of the iOS App Store and out of the Social Networking section.
As with any good success story, they had a ton of luck and perfect timing. The move to a more news-focused product coincided with the biggest news period of recent times – the Trump election, Brexit, the horrendous police shootings, constant celebrity scandals (racism, sexual assault), and the onslaught of breakthrough memes that seem to predominantly come out of arguably the strongest subculture on the platform, the illustrious Black Twitter. All of this combined to give the network a second chance at life, right as its own user base had written it off.
All those elements aside, there are some more qualitative elements at play. We’ve found ourselves spending more and more time on Twitter in 2018, both personally and for our clients. While Instagram is still clearly the leading network with the bulk of the attention-based economy via its aesthetic and marketing possibilities, Twitter has proven itself to provide an entirely different benefit. Direct relationships between brands and followers are taken to a much deeper level. Twitter, for a myriad of reasons, seems to be the go-to place for complaints and customer service, and it’s also a great place to positively engage with upset customers publicly to turn those situations around.
Building rapport with followers is easier on Twitter than on any other networks due to the automatic “Reply To All” function, the Retweet With Comment option (a huge fave which gives users some shine by reposting their comment on a brand’s feed alongside a witty response), as well as having an army of GIFs at your fingertips. Responding via GIFs has by far proven to be, for us and our clients at least, the most entertaining way to engage your followers, as when a brand shows that there’s actually a human behind it and that they have a sense of humour, people are immediately attracted.
Another great way to leverage Twitter for your brand is to jump in on conversations that are happening without you. Often people will tweet about a brand without tagging them, so by searching for your business name and responding you can “surprise and delight” potential customers. From our experience, this has always resulted in a positive response from users, but it can also be used to address a negative situation directly before it gets out of hand without the involvement of the brand.
As Twitter users ourselves, we’ve always relied on it for news since we joined the network over a decade ago. Whenever something happens in the world, we automatically check Twitter to see what went down as our personally curated timelines almost always immediately provide answers. Because we feel personally that way about Twitter, we’re sure that many others are doing the same (entrepreneurs or otherwise), and the fact that Twitter’s MAU base is growing suggests that not only are they attracting new users but they’re also encouraging users who may have given up on them to come back and give it another go.
If you asked us a year ago whether your business should have a strong Twitter strategy, we typically would have said “Sure, if you have the resources and budget, but otherwise it’s not that important.” Now, we’d say the total opposite. A strong Twitter strategy is a key element for pretty much every business – whether it’s for brand awareness, customer service, lead generation or general engagement with followers, there are so many opportunities on the network that it’d be a huge detriment to your brand if you ignored it. Before their recent questionable name change, IHOP (now IHOB, go figure) increased sales 8.1% in 2016 based on their Twitter (and general social) strategy.
The take-away for your brand is to give Twitter another try – get creative, have fun with it, give your brand a personality, talk to people and engage. You’ll end up enjoying it much more than you think. Don’t let your brand sit out this current growth spurt. You never know, they might continue to surprise us.
Not sure where to start with your Twitter strategy? We can help, get in touch.