Twitter isn’t the largest social network, but its users are very active and tend to be influential. As a result, more and more marketers are looking for ways to leverage the service. The challenge of course is that Twitter is distinctively different than other digital channels, so marketers still struggle to find the “right” way to engage.
In our just-published report about Twitter, we found that:
· Many successful uses of Twitter go beyond the marketing department. Alone, that’s probably not all that surprising. What’s particularly interesting though is that even when Twitter is used in non-marketing departments — like customer service, PR or even sales — interactive marketers are participating in the development of the channel to ensure that disparate accounts are strategically aligned.
· Twitter provides both an overwhelming amount of data and is dominated by a minority of influential users. This can be confusing to marketers because it often means that huge amounts of conversation are created by people who all seem to require a response. Handling that volume and depth of conversation can be particularly daunting. More daunting: Marketers need to be even more interesting and more relevant than the average influential user if they want to cut through the cluttered streams and engage their consumers.
Yesterday, Twitter announced the launch of its highly anticipated brand pages. The move is being lauded as the next logical step for the social network in attempting to bring its offerings in line with competitive services for companies -- like the already-launched Google+ brand pages and the perennial favorite Facebook pages. But how exactly will the changes help brands or change the way they interact?
First, the the pages offer marketers more branding opportunities. A large banner on the top of the page will let you show off your logo or other creative without worry that it'll get lost behind the Twitter stream like your custom background images may on your current pages.
Second, you'll be able to make a tweet sticky by pinning it to the top of your stream -- with media like photos or videos -- for as long as you choose.
These features sound -- and are -- good news to marketers who've wanted better tools to create a destination for their audiences on Twitter. But remember, the majority of interaction with your followers on Twitter happens in the stream, not on your brand page. So while these new tools will let you position your Twitter presence better to capture new followers, you still have to have a clear strategy for engaging your followers once you've got them . . .
On one hand, the acquisition means that the herd of strictly LBSNs is continuing to thin, which means the remaining apps have less competition, so marketers who are looking to play on those platforms should have fewer options with larger audiences to choose from. On the other hand, the move appears to be further integrating location into a user’s total Facebook experience — at once broadening the appeal of location-based social activity by baking location into everything a user does on Facebook and thereby potentially subverting the need for strictly LBSNs by integrating the user value into a larger social experience.
And so the big question: should marketers get involved with LBSNs and other geolocation applications?
The bottom line is that geosocial apps are still niche, but they’re growing in usage. Since we published our previous report in July 2010, foursquare has grown from 2 million users to 15 million. Twitter — and now even more aggressively, Facebook — has continued to fuse their social offerings with location information; even technology companies like Apple are chiming in with the launch of the “Find My Friends” app. However, even though the user-base numbers have grown quickly, we still find that few consumers are checking in: 6% have ever, with only 2% doing so at least weekly.