As marketers, we’d all be the first to admit that digital and social media has totally revolutionised what we do.
In addition to TV, radio, outdoor and print, we’ve added digital as a channel for our advertising output, and introduced the concept of paid, owned and earned into our thinking.
But it seems to me that while we have learnt – and continue to learn – how to fulfil social and digital media’s potential, brands and agencies haven’t really thought about what it is that drives their popularity with consumers, and how they can further exploit those learnings across everything they do.
Take Twitter. There are plenty of brands thinking about how to grow their followers, how to use it to improve customer service, how they can surprise and delight users and how to trend on the platform. But far fewer brands are taking the principles of Twitter and applying it to other parts of their marketing.
I think Twitter provides three inspirations that marketers should at least be considering – if not embracing:
1. Putting a face to the brand
One of the really fascinating things Twitter enables is direct relationships, not just with a brand itself but with the people behind it. Consumers’ thirst for transparency and authenticity is satisfied if they can get to know individuals, and their confidence in a product is amplified if a brand advocate can provide a credible ‘face’ for the company. Newsbrands have a great opportunity to do this – the majority of twitter users (56%) follow organisations like the BBC or newspapers like the Daily Mirror, but a large percentage are also following individual journalists who add a personal touch to the brand.
Learning: Consumers like to see the real people behind a brand.
Inspiration: How can you use the people behind your products in more of your marketing, so consumers start to feel they know them and your brand more intimately?
2. Real-time, reactive and participative
Twitter is exciting because it’s live; it’s immediate. Consumers can comment in the moment during events, and the platform is a brilliant way to participate, and to be seen to participate, in popular culture putting your name in lights with your point of view.
Learning: Consumers like to interact with content in real time.
Inspiration: How can more of your marketing feel more like something real, evolving in real time? How can you include consumers’ interactions across more of your media?
3. Twitter is real
There’s an unwritten rule brands have collectively created that says tweeters should not be ignored, even when they may be trolling you. Twitter reveals the good, the bad and the ugly for all the world to see – there is nowhere to hide. People use social media to help define them as individuals, and talking about what they don’t like says as much about them as talking about what they do. On Twitter we are there to be shot at by our audience and need to be prepared to tackle real issues, observations, and – perhaps most importantly – complaints.
We’ve embraced this ourselves for an ad campaign we’re running for the Daily Mirror at the moment, by getting our journalists to read out ‘mean tweets’ about our positioning as the UK’s “intelligent tabloid”.
Learning: Consumers expect real dialogue with brands, and will actively express their opinions on them as a way of saying something about themselves.
Inspiration: How can you use Twitter comments to address head-on the reality versus perception challenges that you may have? How can you create a tribal ‘are you with us or against us?’ feeling to transform users into brand advocates? How can you talk to rather than advertise to your audience?
Despite these tactics being second nature to us in social media spaces, implementing them across other areas of output is not yet conventional behaviour, and therefore may feel uncomfortable to implement. But brands that can embrace the inspiration Twitter provides across the business will benefit from impactful work which resonates and forms a genuine brand-audience bond.