Let’s take a trip down memory lane to the year 2014. Twitter is eight years old and primarily represents an alternative to micro-blogging, compelling users to fit within the confines of a 140 character limit per Tweet.
Fast forward to today, the conversations have evolved and increased in importance, binding people by shared values, causes, and interests. Images, GIFs, and videos give users a richer, more emotive way to communicate.
More marketers are beginning to understand the critical value of interaction and what makes people genuinely want to participate with a certain idea or message. It isn’t a case of luck. Rather, the success stories begin with listening. Putting this knowledge to work is what ultimately gives brands the best shot at success today and those that don’t simply fall victim to deaf ears and eyes.
It may sound simple enough, but to make it even simpler let’s break down six key insights, inspired by Twitter’s Influencing Culture: The Participation Playbook, that you’ll need in order to craft campaigns that people will want to engage with.
Don’t underestimate the power of social listening
Image via Twitter Marketing
There’s no rhyme or reason when it comes to the ideal marketing plan, but what most have agreed on is that it begins with acutely understanding what it is you want to achieve. Are you focused on a targeted group of people? Are you looking to bring new customers to your brand or business?
For answers, you need to tune into what is being said about your company and its competitors. When done right, you can leverage this information and apply it across business development across R&D, customer service and real-time campaigns.
An exemplar brand that recently used this insight to its full advantage is Burger King. In 2017 the restaurant chain introduced spicy chicken nuggets to its menu conveniently after seeing people on Twitter complain about Wendy’s ditching its own. These comments became the exact inspiration for its ad campaign on twitter which helped sell three months’ worth of nuggets in only four weeks. The campaign was shortlisted for a Social & Influencer Lion at Cannes 2018.
Prioritize communication over consumption
Image via Twitter Marketing
In 2015, REI and Venables Bell & Partners initiated a campaign #OptOutside, which centered around its decision to shut all stores on Black Friday to encourage people to explore the wilderness.
The result? More than 1.4 million people used the brand’s hashtag in conversation REI signed up a record number of new members to its co-operative that year.
In this example, a brand’s story was used to create a movement, not just a conversation, and it can best be explained by looking at the principle of self-identity. Put simply, it was easy for people to express their distaste for consumerism and get behind the campaign and communicate their innate sense of innate adventure and fitness in line with REI’s mission “to awaken a lifelong love of the outdoors, for all.”
Think beyond the metrics
Image via Twitter Marketing
Much like the conversations on Twitter have evolved, so too have the metrics that marketers are using as measures of determining success. The primary cause of this is the rise in bots and click farms causing distrust amongst users.
Indeed, the best margins for advertising are on the lowest cost content, typically favoring content that is fake, negative or sensational but marketers today must think bigger and more holistically. Instead, winning brand stories now hinge on real-world outcomes and deeper connections with consumers.
What this boils down is digital marketing that prioritizes the human experience, communicating deep and profound respect for a person’s time and attention, and being proactive in how you address pain points and frustrations when they occur.
For instance, In 2018, Verizon cheekily, and helpfully, responded to people’s frustrated Tweets about rival broadband suppliers.
When the company noticed people taking to Twitter to complain about dropped signals while they were trying to stream college basketball games, Verizon seized an opportunity to demonstrate it was better than its competitors by sending users written reports of what they weren’t able to follow. The campaign, which was ultimately supported by NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, was shortlisted at Cannes Lion the same year.
Cultivate lots of little ideas
— Twitter Moments (@TwitterMoments) April 5, 2018
VMLY&R‘s Jen McDonald hit the nail on the head when she said, “If you’re trying to hit a home run every single time, you’re going to strike out.”
In a digital landscape where competition is paramount and attention spans have never been shorter, it’s easy to default to the expectation that everything you do has to break the internet. Quite the contrary, some of the biggest successes seen on Twitter began by steadily engaging a base of fans with fun interactions.
For instance, Wendy’s #NuggsForCarter challenging a fan to get 18 million Retweets in return for a year of free chicken nuggets became the most Retweeted Tweet of all time until earlier this year when a Japanese billionaire offered cash prizes to people who shared his Tweet. It also won a silver PR Lion at Cannes in 2017.
The takeaway here is that generally, crafting stories to appeal to lots of people tend to only gain traction amongst a few. Alternatively, creating something more micro-level, that appeals to more specialized tastes and interests, increases the likelihood that your content will spread faster and farther. Bear in mind the term “ripple effect.” Start with a pebble, not a huge rock.
Be fearless in your Twitter tone
— The Crock-Pot® Brand (@CrockPotCares) February 3, 2018
Let’s face it, composing that perfect Tweet is a mind game. No one wants a jargon-heavy piece of writing and at the same time, no amount of clever phrasing is going to trick people into talking about your brand if your idea or campaign does prioritize their needs and interests.
In 2017, McDonald’s took to the platform to share, “All Quarter Pounder burgers at the majority of our restaurants will be cooked with fresh beef.” Wendy’s saw this and wittingly replied, “So you’ll still use frozen beef in MOST of your burgers in ALL of your restaurants? Asking for a friend.”
The Tweet received more than 175,000 Retweets and started a follow-up chain of discussion that garnered more than 7,000 replies. The main insight to take from this example is that seizing the moment of impact can be powerful. Strive for speed and take inspiration for how you want to craft your tone based on how people are actually talking.
In yet another example, Crock-Pot abandoned its usual tone of voice in 2017 when the company was blamed for [SPOILER ALERT] the death of Jack Pearson on the TV show This is Us. The Twitter damage control that ensued relied on a lot of emojis and vernacular to resonate with the show’s fans and communicate authenticity and genuity.
The campaign, created in partnership with Edelman, generated 3.7 billion impressions was awarded a Silver Lion in the PR category at Cannes. Crock-Pot also enjoyed a $300,000 bump in its February sales.
Put the customer first
Indeed the largest obstacle with social media is that we obligated to succumb to vanity metrics. The likes, retweets, and follows, and in the process comes a desire to please as many people as possible. It’s easy to know when you’re doing this well and when you’re not.
“Getting good isn’t hard. It’s a symptom you did something else right,” per the philosophy of author, entrepreneur and marketer, Seth Godin. When we chase these metrics it can be a trap of false progress and in actuality dilute our power. The focus should always be on creating and sharing the stories that matter for people who care.
“You can seek out the people who care, or you can yell at the people in the middle who are ignoring you,” says Godin.
For more insights from Seth, check out his episode of Social Media Week’s Leads2Scale podcast where he discussed the keys to getting at the heart of great storytelling, why empathy is overlooked as a core marketing strength, and much more.
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