Consumer attitudes towards social media marketing are swiftly shifting, and while Twitter’s post in the cultural landscape has essentially remained the same—punchy, political and with a snarky bent—brands looking to stand out need to develop a bespoke strategy to avoid sinking in a sea of sameness.
A Twitter survey conducted in partnership with Pulsar found social changes raised the expectations people on Twitter have of companies and how they communicate. When it comes to a brand’s intentions, consumers are savvier than ever.
Meanwhile, people are engaging with brands on Twitter far more often than they were just a few years ago, indicating that a well-crafted, outside-the-box social media marketing strategy could offer organizations more exposure and cultural relevance.
Is Your Brand Willing To Take a Social Stand?
Courtney Spritzer, CEO and co-founder of Socialfly, said before wading into the world of Twitter, organizations need to decide if they’re ready to take stands on political and social issues, what the voice of the brand will be and how that personality expresses itself.
“The brands that have usually stood out on Twitter are the ones that have these very distinct personas and have probably spent a lot of time thinking about who they are and what their brand’s voice is,” she said. “But what's happening now is brands are taking a very cookie-cutter approach to how they comment on Twitter.”
That means consumers are seeing a lot of similar “middle-of-the-road messaging” that lacks authenticity.
“To combat that, you really have to think about whether or not you want to be a brand that takes a stance on certain topics that are going to be controversial,” said Spritzer. “A lot of brands take the position of not wanting to participate in that and just continue focusing on the more playful communications they're used to.”
On the other hand, some brands want to participate in these conversations—and they're okay with ruffling their customers' feathers in the process.
“That's a decision brands have to decide to make,” Spritzer claimed. “But it can come with a lot of backlash and controversy.”
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Balancing ROI With Longevity, Brand Identity
For Alessandro Bogliari, co-founder and CEO of The Influencer Marketing Factory, marketers have to realize that while the social media marketing landscape is constantly in flux, jumping after each new trend is no way to create an authentic brand identity.
“That doesn’t mean you need to abandon all your ROI parameters, but to rethink them based on what your long-term strategy is,” he said. “Marketing as we know it is changing, and we cannot use the same frameworks we used before.”
Bogliari said for Gen-Z consumers, one cycle of social media marketing may not be enough to spur them to purchase a product or service; they are more likely to take time and research the company to see if their values align.
“You need to look more at the long term—maybe that means the board isn’t going to see a return on investment immediately, but that’s not the way to think about things,” he said. “That long-term strategy to develop a consistent brand identity is more important and will lead to better results.”
Craft a Messaging Strategy With Company Stakeholders
Social media moves fast—just look at the average shelf life of memes—and that means marketing teams looking to make tactical Twitter strikes need to have a strategy to spin up approved content quickly.
“The brands that do this well have a process in place to be able to respond to things in real-time,” Spritzer said. “Set up that process ahead of time when you get on the platform, establish with the teams what you're allowed to talk about, what words you are and are not allowed to use ... and what issues are you allowed to participate in.”
She said another important element is to set up guidelines on how to research a trending topic so that you're not participating in something controversial by accident, something Spritzer said happens often.
Don’t Be Cringe: Use Influencer Instincts and Regulate Promotional Posts
Effective use of Twitter means knowing how to listen, when to speak and how to engage with your audience.
“You have to realize it’s not about you as a brand, it's about the people you’re trying to reach,” Bogliari said. “Start by asking people their opinion, so other people around the community know you’re listening and not just messaging them with promotions immediately.”
He advocates that a “helicopter view” of who you are as a brand and having discipline are both key to avoiding overexposure, or the sense that you’re butting into a conversation where you don’t belong.
“There was a phase where everyone would jump in and comment on every single video or trend, but after a while everyone started to say, ‘Silence, brand!’” he said. “This is not the way to go about building an aura of authenticity.”
Bogliari recommends businesses take cues from successful influencers who know how to keep a captive audience by regulating promotional posts and engaging in meaningful exchanges.
“Try not to overload your followers with promotional content, because people will start unfollowing you—they are following you because of your voice, not because of all of the promotion,” he said. “What you shouldn’t be doing is all the time taking the opportunity to put the focus on your products. That’s cringe.”