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Why Twitter is a Contact Sport

Sharmin Kent January 9, 2018

Twitter is a singular creature in the world of social media advertising. Its format doesn’t provide brands with a lot of character real estate, and its options for visual creative are relatively limited. But there’s one Twitter tactic that rarely fails: being actively social.

Now more than ever, successful brands treat Twitter like a contact sport. The most effective marketing and advertising on Twitter is interactive, happens in real time, and leverages loyal audiences to spread its message. Using Twitter as a customer service channel, having real-time conversations, or crafting campaigns around current events can deliver real results for brands–both in the immediate and long term. And brands can’t earn new customers or win their Twitter communities without reaching out, making themselves heard, and getting up close.

People Tweet People

Before handing over your social channels to an inexperienced intern and hoping for the best, it’s important to remember that anything tweeted on a brand’s behalf is considered the voice of the brand. That means the voice of your brand needs to be an actual person. Tweets (the ones worth reading, anyway) are written by real people–and your real-time updates should be, too.

How does that work in practice? It depends on the size of a company; not everyone can hire a full-time social manager. But a sound Twitter strategy should include a list of top customers or influencers who tweet about the brand regularly; and it must include training on a brand’s voice and tone. Set the rules of play, and make sure everyone that touches social channels abide by them. Investing resources in these elements can empower brands take advantage of real-time events, like Oreo did after a power outage during the 2013 Super Bowl.

Machine-Powered Human Dialogue

A  strategy built around real-time interaction doesn’t mean technology has no place in it. Twitter’s native ad manager and poll features provide two ways for brands to discover new insights about their target audiences. But machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) can also help point toward the kinds of questions customers ask most, determine the best times of day to devote to real-time tweeting, and offer ideas on how to conduct successful one-on-one dialogues.

With machine learning, brands can make quick work of discovering their customers’ best (and worst) experiences, and pinpointing the most vocal tweeters and their most-discussed topics. It can also help brands save money: it’s much more cost-effective to retain existing customers than to attract new ones. A technological assist can aid in gathering useful prospect data and creating hyper-personalized Twitter content for highly engaged followers, building even stronger brand affinity and encouraging those users to tell their networks.

It seems like Twitter hasn’t quite found itself: between safety issues and discovering a stable revenue stream, there will likely be even more changes to Twitter in 2018. But at its most basic, it’s a platform for people to share ideas with each other. Brands that can harness tech like machine learning to find the right people can spend even more time showing their human side. And for Twitter, the more human, the better.