While most of the world of social media was getting excited a few weeks ago about the launch of brand pages on Google+ and earlier this week with Facebook finally rolling out their new Timeline feature across their entire platform, last Thursday the other platform aka Twitter decided it would not be upstaged by the other whales in the ocean called social. In what’s being seen as a play to fend off Facebook and Google+, Twitter has given itself some new bells and whistles.
Twitter’s revamp comes at time when they want to prevent its current user base at 100 million and possible future generation of users from eroding. Thus, the reboot consists of a major revision of Twitter.com, updates to their mobile application (Twitter has had an explosive increase of 25% new registrants in 2011 based solely on mobile usage) and an unveiling of two very large new elements. These elements being the debut of brand pages and the functionality of embeddable tweets.
The functionality of these offerings contained in the reboot will be discussed on a deeper more granular-level by the Digital Influence DC team on this blog in a future post. But for now some of the key takeaways on this revision are the following:
These new changes to Twitter are primarily to help draw new users, keep current users on the social network longer, attract more advertisers and provide simplicity. Twitter is a simple platform and the revisions make it even simpler for both current and new registrants to use. The new user interface is clean but does not mimic other social networking sites. Twitter took a lot of heat over the past for its user-unfriendly layout on Twitter.com. With the relaunch, Twitter is trying to get into the game it has stated for years it is not interested in. Casual social networkers who want the ability to have a profile, find items of interest with ease and communicate with their friends. The @Connect and #Discover functions of the new layout are prominent almost taking a cue that Twitter is playing to its strength that it is dominant in real time communications tool of all platforms.
The mobile application makes it very easy to find direct messages and @mentions. Again, this is a move by the service to make it easier for one-to-one communication in a replication of how one uses SMS texting to communicate with acquaintances.
Brand pages will be ultimately useful by companies who want to do the following: a) engage with others for customer relationship management purposes b) use the service to generate new leads in the B2B space c) Allow for building engaging experiences on a platform without having to push the user to third-party real estate.
Because Twitter has an open API, the smarter brands will not only build a page, but go deeper with an engagement or application that is page-specific for their brand allowing followers to partake in more engaging interaction with the brand beyond simply clicking a link and consuming content. What these experiences will be will be left up to the creative technologists inhabiting the halls of both brands and their social agencies. One way will be for brands using the platform for CRM to build apps that help service this sector. Another way will be for brands to use the new revision which separates @replies and mentions heavily to their advantage in replying in real time to customers using feeds for CRM purposes. This change makes it very convenient for brands to communicate in real time in a more efficient manner. In addition, it may really help B2B companies who actually want to turn engagements into direct leads.
Finally, brand pages will allow those who are following a brand but want deeper information to go to the profile page to learn more. Twitter has always been about pushing to a third-party site to gain deeper information, and this is where this revision is Twitter’s new stand in hoping to keep more users on the site for longer periods of time in which to build a revenue model.
Embeddable tweets are probably the biggest armament of the new changes yet will be underutilized by the majority of WOM marketers. Ever since the dawning of the platform, it was impossible to take a tweet and embed it on a third party blog like WordPress or Posterous. Since many influencers blog and tweet alike, this feature allows for them to share Twitter content easily on their blog for their readers to witness. It can also be used to help gain new followers to brand feeds. It will have the biggest effect on digital word of mouth marketing in the last decade since blogging came to major prominence based on how marketers approach their influencer campaigns. It’s the first time that Twitter can be brought to a brand’s website property in a way that the open graph helped Facebook grow by leaps and bounds. This is a win-win for brands on Twitter who want to spread their marcomms to the influencer sphere without having to use older communication tactics like a simple text-based blog post.
In summation, the revisions were necessary for Twitter and have come at the right time for both the platform and the brands and followers engaging within. For brands it makes all of the current changes within the evolving world of social possibly more confusing as it requires the creation, management and content creation within another platform. But it should be welcomed as a credible and useful platform evolving and wanting to be part of a brands almighty social arsenal portfolio. And with proper planning and execution, it is now possible for brands across the board from B2B to B2C CPGs to travel and tourism to financial services to retailers to be able to use Twitter in better ways to communicate with critics, advocates and potential consumers in real time. And by making this communication more simple, Twitter has ultimately helped usher in a new era of effectiveness and efficiency. And no one can complain when those two factors exist.