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Taming the Twitter beast: 10 marketing tips to avoid a #fail

Twitter’s new life as a public company could make the social network a major rival to Facebook for ad cash, but only if it can make the most of its live event–orientated audience data. Robin Langford, Editor at Netimperative, looks at the future of Twitter as it matures into a serious ad platform.

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Article summary:

IPO pressures mean tumbling ad prices: Twitter saw the cost of its Promoted Tweets plummet 67% in 2013 as the newly listed social network seeks to please investors, advertisers and users alike.

No longer the new kid on the block: Threats from chat apps such as WhatsApp, Snapchat and Chinese rivals such as Sina Weibo. Meanwhile Instagram is reportedly overtaking Twitter users in the US.

Greater choice of ad formats and approaches: Promoted Tweets, Trends and Accounts giving stronger paid options for brands- with more ad units to come

Strength in live event audience: Twitter’s real-time appeal around live events and breaking news has left many brands searching for their own ‘Oreo Superbowl’ moment.

Vine on the rise: Twitter’s shift to 6 second video with Vine app has proved a success, offering a new addictive format for brands to try.

Second screen potential: Twitter remains best complement to TV viewing, providing a chance for brands to cultivate conversations as consumers are emotionally engaged and receptive at home.

Site revamp to take on Facebook: Twitter’s new site looks a lot like Facebook- and that’s no coincidence as it looks to compete with its larger rival to monetise users.

From Samsung’s star-studded selfie to the Obama’s victory hug, Twitter has become part of mainstream culture- but the instant and uncontrollable nature of the social network has also been the downfall of many over-eager brands that Tweet before they think.

Live-event commentary has always been Twitter’s strength over other social media platforms. But for every ‘Oreo Superbowl’ moment there have been brands that have seen their Tweets ignored, their hashtag campaigns backfire or witnessed Q&As turn into a very public humiliation at the hands of disgruntled customers and activists. As such, Twitter is a very different beast to its larger rival Facebook, and marketers need to tread carefully to get the best from its fast-moving community.

Twitter’s advertising balancing act

Moving beyond a social phenomenon and becoming a viable paid ad platform for brands has been a tricky task for Twitter. In the past year, its founders have made the site more business-friendly, with greater visual and interactive elements forming part of a new Facebook-style revamp this year. Meanwhile, Vine presents a new video element with many brands already capitalising on the addictive 6-second format with strong results.

As an advertiser, the IPO has led to a far greater choice of ad formats and approaches to reach users. Already on offer are Promoted Tweets, Promoted Trends and Promoted Accounts giving stronger paid options for brands- with more improvements (such as ads targeted by language) to come.

However, while its ad revenue has risen, the average ad rate for the social network fell by a massive 67% during 2013 as the newly listed company is struggling to find a stable price that’s attractive to clients. And this price could keep falling.

But Twitter is more than just a cheaper alternative to Facebook, with some studies showing its paid ads actually provide a better return on investment than Zuckerberg’s social behemoth due to a more socially receptive audience. But marketers need to identify the best approaches to reach Twitter’s fast moving network of users, through a mix of paid ads and well updated profile pages.

As the platform evolves, here’s some top tips that still hold true when marketing on Twitter.

10 Twitter marketing tips

1. Think visual first: Share photos of products in real life situations and pose questions and calls to actions to get responses

2. Become a thought leader: Report world and industry news that’s related to your business, together with some commentary. Find ways to make your company a positive part of the conversation- but only where it’s a natural fit.

3. Feed the conversation: Regularly take part in Twitter chats related to your industry. Make sure customers see your brand as an active part of the modern world.

4. Make it easy to follow you: Push your full Twitter ID on all marketing and communication materials, so people can follow you in a couple of clicks (rather than hunting you down themselves).

5. Calls to action and incentives: Post discounts and offers on Twitter to reward social engagement and keep customers listening.

6. Keep up with the best: Follow experts and leaders in your industry- but follow competitors on a non-corporate account.

7. Stay authentic: Avoid corporate speak or marketing jargon on your public profile and never patronise your customers. Stay bright, polite and friendly at all times.

8. Tip often: Think like a publisher and share tips related to your business.

9. Be frequent, but don’t over share: Spread your tweets throughout the day, rather than posting the all at once, as people check Twitter at different times of the day. Consider posting during TV shows and events that might appeal to your customers (try to avoid spoilers though!).

10. Fast response to fight fires: Get back to consumer queries fast- if they are negative direct them to email to get the conversation out of the public domain

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