In a world where “going viral” is no longer the top priority for brands, creating meaningful, authentic connections with consumers is what’s top of mind for marketers these days. That’s why Twitter is positioning itself as the platform that’s in touch with people and culture, while elevating brands and building engagement.
With that in mind, Twitter’s first playbook aims to share and stimulate innovative use cases by brands and their partner agencies. And to kick off Advertising Week New York today, Twitter has unveiled its rebranded global brand strategy team, now called Twitter Next, and new positioning.
Twitter Next offers campaign and content strategy services, brand voice consultations, and a lab of technologists, program managers, and designers focused on working with brands and agencies to create human-centric ideas worth talking about. Studying hundreds of millions of Tweets per day, they listen to Twitter's audience to understand not just what’s happening today, but what will happen tomorrow—and how to get people engaged and talking about campaigns.
Tiara Puglisi, group director of connections at R/GA, found out more in a conversation with Alex Josephson, Head of Twitter Next.
Tiara> Alex, how is Twitter Next helping brands shape culture and elevate their creativity?
Alex> Almost eight out of 10 of our users follow brands, and they expect brands to talk to them as people. They come to Twitter to discover something new, so brands have the opportunity to find the places where people are talking and where their brand is relevant and find a point where those two things overlap.
Depending on who you are, what you stand for, what your message is, and what your product offering is to consumers - you can find that audience in its most saturated and its most receptive and its most talkative form on Twitter. That's why we encourage brands to really start with that audience, vs. thinking of it as, “Oh, it's a social media add-on at the tail-end of my planning cycle.”
We never want to start the conversation by showing users an ad product or a fancy new beta ad product or something shiny that's not rooted in a human truth and a proven user behaviour that we're observing on the platform.
Tiara> That really resonates with us, too, because we always start our strategy as a bottom-up culture: What are people talking about, what are they saying, how are they really feeling?
Alex> I would obviously agree with that. Right now, we have a Twitter prototype that's accessible to about 5,000 or so power users. We’re testing new things and soliciting suggestions from a core community of power users that could influence official product in the short and long term.
Tiara> How can brands drive awareness and choose their best moments on Twitter?
Alex> The two jobs that we get hired for most frequently, and successfully, consistently deliver on the KPIs is when we're launching something new. That could be a new product, campaign message, promotion; or where you're trying to connect with what's happening in culture. That could be a big event like the Super Bowl or a moment or a trending conversation. Cultural relevance now accounts for up to 25 percent of purchase decisions for consumers. It's actually equal to brand perception, in and of itself, which is fairly staggering.
Tiara> Are brands getting better at community building and nurturing conversations on the platform?
Alex> Brands are becoming comfortable with how they talk and converse on the platform. We say, "If Instagram is where people pretend to be brands, Twitter is where brands pretend to be people." It comes down to understanding your audience. Who is the audience that you're trying to reach and how are they conversing on the platform? And how can you converse in a way that's authentic and synonymous with that, but in a way that's relevant to your brand? You're not trying to enter conversations or be someone you have no right to be, on the one hand.
Then it’s about really staffing and surrounding that area properly. So whether it's data science, community management, having your strategy and your marketing team in close contact with your creative team and your people team, even up to the C-suite. You should know what are the things your CMO is going to be cool with, and what are the things that are off-limits?
Once those parameters are in place and they're established, that's where the magic happens. So, people think when a Tweet blows up on the platform, “Oh, that was so serendipitous.” Maybe it was, but the reality is the brands who have those moments, they've been perfecting and optimising their brand voice and they've got the pipes running behind the scenes and they're very clear on what to do and what situations they can take advantage of.
Tiara> I say that all the time as someone who orchestrates a lot of these things. It’s not just a flip of a switch and we got all this attention and went viral. In actual fact, it was well-orchestrated and single-minded, and everyone agreed to it. You can have a simple idea, get the buy-in, construct the pipes, and then you can show up and let the community take control of it, which is rare now in the media landscape that we're in today, where everyone is pushing to pay for every visibility point.
Alex> That's why we're not your reach and frequency play. If you want big, efficient reach, there's other places you can get that. We're fully aware of that and we're comfortable with that. What we are is, if you think you have something to say and you want to drive conversation about it in an open way, yes, we are the place to do that. And how do I start here, because that conversation rarely stays on Twitter. It will end up on the 6:00 news or Tweets and blogs and newspapers.
Tiara> How is Twitter evolving its user experience, and what are the implications for brands and users?
Alex> We got much clearer a couple of years ago about who we are as a brand, as a service, and simply it’s that Twitter is what's happening, what people are talking about. And so that's really where we've really been focused: how do we make Twitter easier to use, and make sure it's fun, fast and free? That's been the focus from a consumer standpoint. That just translates to a better lit and more receptive environment for brands when you have something to say.