It’s hard to believe people have now been tweeting for 13 years. Yes, you read that right. 13 years. Over a decade of tweeting, retweeting & hashtagging; pretty crazy don’t you think? During that time the text-first platform has held a range of perceptions from users across the globe. Firstly being heralded as a platform for free speech, conversation & the place to be for ‘what’s going on.' In fact, in its first three years, Twitter said people were tweeting an average of 750 tweets per second; that’s a lot of #MondayMotivation’s.
After its first few years it acquired the video network platform Vine (RIP), which helped Twitter embrace a true meme culture (“look at all those chickens!”) and expand its offering from just text-only and image posts.
However, since the early glory days of breaking on the scene and housing an array of hilarious short videos, the perception of Twitter has gradually changed over the last 5 years, now predominantly seen as an afterthought when it comes to social media apps and even in advertising for some marketers; shelved as the ‘only place you go to complain about a company’.
So what’s going on? Well, if you ask Twitter then they’ll likely say life is good, great even. And the reason for that is quite simply, people are still using Twitter, a lot, in fact. Twitter currently has 330 million active monthly users, steady growth since 2013 (source), and still registers 750 million tweets per day; not exactly numbers that suggest it’s dying.
“So what does this mean for brands?” I hear you ask! Well, it means there is more to Twitter than just having a profile for your customers to tweet you their feedback/complaints; it’s more about utilising what Twitter does best, giving users a voice. In a rare world of text-first content, Twitter stands alone in allowing its community to show their personality through short and easy to digest text rather than long-form videos or dance routines (not pointing fingers).
Now here’s where I reveal a nerdy marketing fact about myself… I get a kick out of seeing brands roast their own customers. It's a little hobby of mine. Or, even better, when brands engage with one another. Now I’m not saying roasting your customers is best practice, but for the brands bold enough to adopt a bullish tone of voice, the rewards can be big. Take a look at these brands for example:
Wendy’s (American fast-food chain)
Wendy’s are known on Twitter for their ‘below the belt’ humour and outright hilarious opinion of other fast food franchises, this alone has allowed them to cultivate a huge following on Twitter (3.7m).
Innocent have spent the last few years fine-tuning their tone of voice through a strictly British lens and it’s worked wonders for them - often being picked up by The Drum. They’ve become known across the UK for nailing that often hard to describe British humour.
Dbrand (phone skins & wraps)
Take this last screengrab as an example, sure, it looks like a random brand throwing shade at a poor unsuspecting customer, but this Canadian brand has built a cult following of loyal customers who revel in this type of playground humor; why else would they have 1.1 million followers?
Putting it simply, this is a prime example of a brand not being afraid to adopt a unique tone of voice and stand out from the crowd, therefore reaping the benefits. Speaking of benefits, what exactly are they?
Well, remember everyone saying organic social is dead? Not on Twitter. Brands that adopt a unique tone and stick to it will have a better chance of achieving earned reach. And with that comes, increased engagement, eyes on content, and new users.
Now, I’m not saying by sounding a little different while tweeting as a brand is the only way to rocket you to fandom among your customers, but by establishing how you want to communicate as a brand, what you stand for and above all else, portraying yourself as ‘human’, this will likely contribute to a strong foundation for being recognised and listened to.
And this takes me back to why Twitter stands alone in today’s social media landscape. Brands can openly engage with the public on a level playing field (rather than being buried in an Instagram or Facebook comment) and this allows them to communicate effectively, openly and humanly to their customers, without the need for all the bells and whistles of a 3D video campaign or bespoke photoshoot.
That’s it. That’s the tweet.