Twitter Emerges as a Brand Marketing Tool
Facebook may be garnering much attention for its recent nod to brand marketers, but thereâ€™s another social media tool that is following much the same path without the fanfare: Twitter.
While Twitter has sometimes been dismissed as an inconsequential way to issue simple, short updates, the service has managed to emerge as a serious addition to marketing programs executed by some very big advertisers.
A recent Bloomberg Businessweek article dug deep into Twitterâ€™s commercial popularity and found that it has been â€œdiscoveredâ€ by marketers who are realizing that tweets â€œdouble as ads.â€ It was Ashish Goel, a professor at Stanford University and consultant to Twitter who â€œhad an important insight,â€ according to Bloomberg Businessweek:
“Everyone on Twitter is a marketer who wants to promote a link, a piece of news, or a personal update. Twitterâ€™s strongest appeal to advertisers was to allow them to pay to add more heft to a standard message. Ads could then flow not only to the central Twitter website but to all of the various Twitter software programs on the Web and on mobile phones, some of which are administered by third-party companies.”
Discovering the Power of a Tweet
Twitter shrewdly kept its ad epiphany on the quiet side, testing the idea with a handful of large advertisers. When the Disney movie Toy Story 3Â was about to open, Twitter created the â€œpromoted trendâ€ to fill the need to have a particular topic rise to the top of the Twitter main page for a whole day. It worked, as evidenced by the fact that this ad now costs about $120,000 in the U.S., according to Bloomberg Businessweek.
Twitter advertising is catching on. The recent Super Bowl saw GM actively using Twitter, tying it in with television commercials, a technique that created a lot of buzz. Referring to an ensuing war of tweets that occurred between executives of GM and Ford, Joel Ewanick, Chief Marketing Officer for GM, told Bloomberg Businessweek, â€œAt one point it was like the Hatfields and the McCoys online. That was our intent. We wanted to give people something to talk about, and Twitter helped us do that.â€
Now American Express is making a far more sophisticated use of Twitter, according to GigaOM. The company is allowing card-holding members to sync their credit card to their Twitter account and get merchant offers by including a specific retailer-related hashtag in a tweet. The hashtag results in a discount that is applied to the memberâ€™s card. The member gets that discount automatically when making a purchase with the card. Itâ€™s like an electronic credit without a coupon. Members can follow @amexsync to get confirmations of offers and find out when offers might expire. Numerous merchants have signed up for the American Express program.
Twitterâ€™s Version of Brand Pages
Just as Facebook has given a facelift to its Pages to make them more brand-friendly, Twitter is on the verge of adding â€œexperiences, including e-commerce, contests and sweepstakesâ€ to the brand landing pages the service introduced in December, according to Advertising Age. The new page format is likely to be made available soon to advertisers who have committed to a certain minimum ad spend on the Twitter network, like American Express, McDonaldâ€™s and Nike.
As Advertising Age says, â€œâ€¦the prospect of developing content thatâ€™s native to the Twitter experience and using it to drive users to their own pages could make brand pagesâ€™ function â€“ and value â€“ clearer to marketers.â€
The Social Media Evolution is a Rev(enue)lution
Consider Twitterâ€™s increasing interest in brand advertising as evolutionary if you like, but it may be more practical than evolutionary. As the Bloomberg Businessweek article points out, â€œIn the past, Twitterâ€™s too-cool-for-revenue attitude enhanced its Silicon Valley mystique. â€¦ But really itâ€™s jumping headlong into competition for advertisersâ€™ Internet budgets.â€
Yup, when you get right down to it, Twitter is following in Facebookâ€™s footsteps â€“ looking to big brand marketers to fill the ad coffers so that all important bottom line looks good.
About Barry Silverstein
Barry Silverstein is a freelance writer/marketing consultant. In addition to writing for ReveNews, he is a contributing writer to Brandchannel.com, the worldâ€™s leading online branding forum. He is the author of three marketing books, The Breakaway Brand (co-author, McGraw-Hill, 2005), Business-to-Business Internet Marketing (Maximum Press, 2003) and Internet Marketing for Technology Companies (Maximum Press, 2003). Barry ran his own Internet and direct marketing agency for twenty years. You can find Barry on Twitter @bdsilv.