That’s how it began in March 2006, when Twitter’s original founder (and now chairman) Jack Dorsey sent the very first tweet into the social sphere. Over a decade later, the platform boasts 328 million monthly active users and nearly 500 million tweets sent per day.
In fact, if Twitter were a country, it would be the 12th most populous. So let’s take a closer look at how brands can make their mark on the second-biggest name in social—even with just 140 characters at their disposal.
It's what's happening.
“We wanted to capture that feeling: the physical sensation that you’re buzzing your friend’s pocket,” Dorsey said, which caused he and the team to choose the name “twitter.”
This references the short bursts of information and chirps from birds, inspiring the logo and mascot. Nowadays, Twitter has 82% active mobile users while 90% of video views occur on mobile, living up to the promise of updates in your pocket.
How do you harness 140 effectively? Focus on current events, news, updates, and other buzz-worthy content, keep copy succinct, and include links or media when possible (tweets with images receive 18% more click-throughs, 89% more likes, and 150% more retweets).
While the life of a tweet can be shockingly short (some have tracked it to just 18 minutes), personal accounts and brands can extend the life of a tweet by supporting the content with paid spend, turning the regular content into a promoted tweet. Other paid options include promoting your account or promoting a trend.
Twitter isn’t really relevant to me.
In 2016, TechCrunch reported that 62% of U.S. adults use social media to get their news. The news of of the royal wedding announcement, Whitney Houston’s death, the Hudson River plane crash, Osama bin Laden’s death, and Newt Gingrich’s presidential bid all broke on Twitter.
Questions? Thoughts? Complaints? Take it to Twitter.
Of all Twitter users, 77% feel more positive about a brand when they see engagement on their tweet. Engaging with the community and immediate customer service has become so prevalent that Twitter just released their Direct Message button, where a user can message with a branded bot and be prompted with automated responses.
Not all fun and birds.
While Twitter is a rather casual platform, it is still an extension of your brand and appropriate precautions should always be considered. Mistakes happen more frequently than they should. Brands have tweeted out explicit images, unintended personal messages, and trendy takes that no one is asking for. It’s important to avoid these situations by carefully considering when and how you should be entering public conversations.
Brands are now also taking to Twitter to engage with competitors in “Twitter wars,” and Wendy’s quickly made a name for themselves in this field, hitting brands like Hardee’s and McDonalds with witty, snarky tweets. While some brands have been successful with this strategy, it might not work as a long-term strategy. For now, if a social presence like this aligns with the overall voice, some audiences certainly appreciate the change of pace.
Beware of bots.
Brands should also continue to keep an eye on the platform’s “bot situation.” After Katy Perry set a new platform record of 100 million followers, many were quick to point out that an estimated 67 million of them were likely fake accounts. While Twitter itself has denied the accuracy of the Twitter Audit methodology, there’s clearly still a sizable bot population driving up follower and engagement accounts.
When studies are estimating 9%–15% of active Twitter users aren’t real people, brands and agencies have reason to look into their follower base to ensure they’re actually reaching targeted audiences.
Not long ago, Twitter launched a redesign, overhauling the aesthetic of the website and app. The avatars were rounded, fonts were bolded, and the quill pen became a button that says “tweet.” Retweet and Like counters also update in real time, so users can watch as the numbers rack up.
More recent feature updates include the “Moments” tab being replaced with “Explore,” where users can search through tweets bundled into a Moment, looking at trending hashtags and featured live videos. Users now also have the power to block anonymous accounts appearing in Notifications or even tweets that contain blocked keywords.
Now that you’re inspired to tweet away, remember: “Make every detail perfect and limit the number of details to perfect.” – Jack Dorsey