Twitter at ten: Opportunity knocks for the brightest brands

It's ten years today since Jack Dorsey sent the first ever tweet, telling the world he was "just setting up my twttr".

Are reports of Twitter's demise premature, asks Simon Maule
Are reports of Twitter's demise premature, asks Simon Maule

But while the social media platform’s rise has been rapid, birthday celebrations will be bitter sweet.

Poor results last month coincided with the first quarter with no growth in its user base. Couple this with confusion over its future direction, and the next ten years for Twitter look less rosy than the ten just gone.

But are reports of its demise premature?

While Twitter’s first decade has been characterised by mass sharing across wide audiences, more specialist communities now see opportunities knocking.

Millions followed celebrities like Stephen Fry, who share thoughts and endorse causes or initiatives close to their hearts. Fry has now quit Twitter, calling it "a stalking ground for the sanctimoniously self-righteous". But the stage is set for bright brands to harness the power within relevant communities of interest to get their big ideas in front of their target audiences.

Twitter can be a hugely effective way to share game-changing ideas with the people that matter, for example targeting influencers whose feeds are followed by a tightly knit and hungry band of devotees.

Likewise, gender diversity in senior management is an issue currently at the top of the business agenda.

Powerful champions for women in business, such as Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington, could provide valuable advocacy with a simple retweet.

As brands consider the best ways to get their smart content in front of target audiences, these influencers should be in the mix.

We know from our own research that good thought leadership needs to be – among other things – findable, engaging and collaborative. Using Twitter influencers can ensure that your activity fulfils these aims.

So how can brands make the most of Twitter?

Firstly, it is critical to identify relevant audiences, and the influential advocates linked to those audiences.

If your work explores the potential application of behavioural science in the world of personal finance, for example, then Fry probably isn’t a target for you.

It also requires careful consideration of the way you package your content, in order to resonate with the powerful names you want to become your advocates.

Simply using Twitter as a broadcasting tool won’t cut it; content must stimulate engagement, whether that be sharing with others or engaging in direct conversations.

Mooted changes to Twitter, such as expanding the tweet limit to 10,000 characters, would significantly change the scope of the content that could be produced.

But for now, its emphasis on brief content packed with visuals, video, links and actions is a huge opportunity for smart brands using thought leadership to meet their business goals.

The audiences won’t be as big as those enjoyed by Fry, but they could be far more valuable.

Simon Maule is director at Linstock Communications

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