Social media spending has been growing at a steady pace, and will continue in that fashion. It currently accounts for 9.9 per cent of marketing budgets, and is expected to rise to 22.4 per cent in the next five years.
To help build a picture of what has been working well for brands this year, we spoke to a mixture of top digital professionals from across the globe to see what they feel the important tactics and developments on Twitter in 2015 have been. We also wanted to know what the top social marketers were considering in the near future, and what developments on Twitter they were keen to experiment with. Read on to get an exclusive insight on how the rest of 2015 may play out for major brands using Twitter marketing.
Pizza Express – Tim Love, Social Media Manager
“In 2015 we’ve been looking to make the most of Twitter for short form, eye-catching video content. Vine integration (and autoplay) means we are able to produce lovely short clips of food that’ll hopefully capture a follower’s attention, with a call-to-action of booking a table or checking out our latest offers. Twitter Analytics are now much more in-depth than they were last year, meaning we get a much truer understanding of how many people are seeing and engaging with our content.
Going forward, I think the potential addition of a click-to-buy button would be an absolute game changer. Being able to make purchases without leaving the Twitter app gives brands a huge opportunity to use well-targeted Twitter Ads effectively and see a true and definitive ROI.”
The emoji dessert ?also known as the Eton Mess Cheesecake. Perfect for an after work treat https://t.co/hGSVsaYtWZ
— PizzaExpress (@PizzaExpress) June 9, 2015
Hill+Knowlton Strategies – Candace Kuss, Director Of Social
“It depends on the client, but the umbrella word for 2015 would be integration. I try to help clients see the social Internet as a connected ecosystem and not silos. So different platforms can play different roles in a brand content program. I think of Twitter as the voice of the brand vs an Instagram which is the look of the brand. Twitter can also be a great traffic driver to Hero content. To use a basketball metaphor, Twitter is the point guard while YouTube is the forward who dunks the ball.
I think we all saw this coming, but Twitter opening up Direct Messages to more than 140 characters is a big move. It feels like a test to me. If it works then I will not be surprised to see them remove the 140 character limit entirely, which would dramatically alter one of Twitter’s most iconic features.”
BUPA – Charles Stanton, Group Social Media Manager
“Twitter’s updated content cards for mobile apps have been a fantastic addition to the portfolio and allow us to really drill into the ROI of app campaigns on social. Using custom SDK’s we can measure the in-app engagement of users well beyond the campaign and demonstrate some fantastic insights into user behaviour.
Going forward, there are so many options out there for social marketing that Twitter will need to continue to up its game to prove ROI against commercial objectives; with its latest updates it appears the company has made significant steps in this respect but there may still be challenges ahead.”
Marvel – Adri Cowan, Social Media Manager
“This year was about balancing relatability and quirkiness with a mountain of information and news. We use Twitter to share all the great stuff the company produces in all departments, but we also want to remind our audience that we’re human, and plugged into what’s relevant. Also, figuring out what “fun” trends and topics we should hop on (e.g., #NationalHugYourCatDay) vs. what’s not totally necessary.
It's National Hug Your Cat Day! Or, as Captain Marvel likes to call it, "National Hug Your Flerken Day"… pic.twitter.com/6ZvtxKHgL2
— Marvel Entertainment (@Marvel) June 4, 2015
So far this year native video and the introduction of GIFs to Twitter have been fantastic for building engagement and getting our audience’s attention — and I see it only growing over the next year.”
— The Avengers (@Avengers) April 28, 2015
TMW Unlimited – Sophie Mindell, Senior Social Media Manager
This year has been about using Twitter for real-time reactive content. While Facebook has switched to predominantly paid only strategies, we can still get great results from organic content. Of course this needs to be brand relevant, timely and include great creative but when it works the reach and positive endorsement for the brand can be far better than a paid reach campaign. But if you do have the paid budget, then having the option to boost the reactive content is always a benefit.
Although this should no longer be surprising, it always surprises me just how big the spike in engagement is when you use a celebrity or influencer to endorse your brand or even just RT a piece of content. Recently we used an influential Twitter account to simply RT a brand tweet, resulting in an increase in over 5000% impressions. At the moment the power of influencers is still on an upwards trend and their followers are listening to everything they have to say.
Twitter is also developing new disruptive ad formats that we will see more and more brands adopt and test through the year. We’ve seen a number of brands already using these including the Group DM functionality that Adidas used, the flock-to-unlock mechanic that saw the release of the Mockingjay trailer and also the Twitter Amplify that Sky Sports and Samsung used together to share live sports moments.
Ford Motor Company – Kellee Montgomery, Digital & Social Advertising Manager
“Ford has evolved the way we use Twitter not only changing with our business needs, but also taking advantage of Twitter’s latest offerings. In 2014, Ford debuted our Vine channel with a series of “Vine Famous” influencer pieces including Rudy Mancuso, Jerome Jarre and Ry Doon to stay true to the content that performs best on the platform. We’ve also jumped into Periscope pretty quickly with 5 events to date, including a behind the scenes look at the Ford GT design. Video content has become a huge priority for Ford’s digital marketing strategy and how we connect with consumers online and, fortunately, Twitter continues to raise their game with new ways brands can engage with their target audiences.“
— Ford Motor Company (@Ford) June 14, 2015
O2 – Kristian Lorenzon, Head Of Social
“Twitter has played a central role in our sports and music strategy for many years as it is the shortest distance between our brand and our customers. It plays an important role for in-life service, cross-sell and giving customers access to the latest news on things that matter to them most. This year during the 6 Nations we saw our highest all time levels of interactions and mentions around #WearTheRose and @O2Sports. More people are taking to the platform to discover content and take part in realtime conversations about huge events like the 6 Nations. The rollout of native video and new Twitter Card’s have enabled us to develop new content formats to not only get a messages in-front of the right people, but get them to interact too.
— O2 Sports (@O2sports) March 21, 2015
During the rest of 2015, we are very interested to see how video develops more, particularly with the success other platforms have seen with autoplay. The future of Twitter as a large content distribution platform will rely on its efforts to deliver high impact creative formats into a feed that used to be only 140 characters of text. We are also working closely with Twitter and research companies to understand the role it could play as a direct response platform. Expect to see us creating content that inspires people to move closer to a purchase decision with O2.”
Social Life – Laura-May Coope, Director & Co-founder
“This year we’ve been looking at creative ways to combine Twitter and complementary platforms like Vine and Periscope to allow users and fans to play with content. Our two series of Vine games for Sky Atlantic’s Critical and Capital’s Summer Time Ball were really popular as they gamified content that related to the show/event in a innovative, shareable way.
— Sky 1 (@sky1) April 14, 2015
We’ve also introduced Twitter based social strands to shows including Take Me Out and First Dates, where we used the reactions viewers share on Twitter and Facebook to create ‘The Internet Reacts’ style videos, the viewers loved being included in the shows narrative and knowing their comments were being used for something they could share with their own networks. We also made some weird and magical Twitter images using transparent PNG’s which are equal parts baffling and beautiful!
— Capital (@CapitalOfficial) June 6, 2015
There’s to be a big appetite for exploring emotions, humour and live coverage reactions with emoji’s – especially after the keyboard update! We’re also happy to see that generally speaking, the most popular updates are still really good text-only posts that are well written and timed to perfection.
Later on in 2015 I can see that using Periscope to allow users to control what they see will be a popular addition for brands and broadcasters/events. However, the quality of the broadcasts need to be produced well to keep fans interested for more than a minute or two. Twitter rolled out native voting last year with The Apprentice, so I’ll be keen to see if that is opened out later this year. More brand led UGC features and fandom driven competitions will also continue to sit on top of worldwide trends. We’ll also see how the sharing of block lists will help brands and broadcasters to reduce the level of trolling/negativity around their accounts and features.”
British Gas – Greg Allum, Social Media Manager
“Our approach to Twitter has evolved, and continues to do so. Our main focus is to implement our award winning ‘meaningful conversations’ strategy where we’re making huge strides in rebuilding trust as a brand on social channels. We’re continuing to deliver world class customer service and have increased our number of social customer care agents by 50%. Aside from customer service, we’re highly focused on ‘Micro Conversations’ and doubling the number of one-to-one conversations we have around core subjects related to our brand and beyond.
So far in 2015 there’s two lessons we’ve learned. Firstly, in-channel engagement is key. We believe creating content that sits beautifully within the channel is more important than driving click throughs to websites. We’re evolving our content marketing communications to a ‘Social First’ approach.
Secondly, organic is dead. I’ve reluctantly had to accept this as I come from a world where organic can cut through, but alas no more. We’re moving to a Paid Social only model due to the fact Twitter and Facebook organic reach is circa 4-6%. For us to hit the people we want to we need to become highly skilled at using promoted posts.
During the rest of 2015 I believe the combination of the following are paramount to success on Twitter:
- Developing a paid model that cuts through and increases positive engagement at scale.
- The continuing importance and shift from broadcast message to personalised ‘Micro Conversations’ between brands and individual consumers.
- Creating content that is fit for purpose. The right specifications and image dimensions, the right targeting and the right timing.
- The continuation of testing and learning. Social offers an opportunity to fail fast and learn, we will be continuing to adopt this approach throughout 2015″
Cogent Elliott – Ian Covey, Social Media Manager
“The main focus for us on Twitter this year has been outreach activity. Being proactive through Keyword Listening and User Discovery has enabled us to extend the reach and build the communities of all the brands we look after. Even if you’re only using Twitter’s web interface, it’s something that’s quick and simple to do.
It seems so obvious but asking a short, personalised question when connecting with other Twitter users has been amazingly successful for us this year. We’ve found it a great way to not only begin relationships with Twitter users but has generated a number of sales leads (one’s we can absolutely directly attribute to social activity!).
Outreach and engagement will continue to be the main focus of what we do for our clients on Twitter in 2015. Integrating the increasing amount of data about our followers, conversation and content, to make our activity more effective and client budgets go as far as possible, is incredibly important too.”
The importance of ensuring your brand stays aware of all the latest creative techniques, Twitter tools, and revenue-generating opportunities remains high, no brand can afford to be left behind. How has 2015 been for you, and what big changes in Twitter marketing do you expect to see over the coming 6 months?