The golden rules of social media for brands, according to Twitter data

Yes, people do want to hear from brands on Twitter. Just maybe not like that.

We’ve heard Twitter described as a lot of things: A water cooler, a tool for democracy, a cesspool, a giant waste of time. It’s that last one that causes the most controversy in the brand marketing world.

  • Should we be on Twitter? (Definitely maybe). 
  • Do people even want to hear what we’d have to tweet? (Potentially.) 
  • What would I even tweet about? (Ok, maybe you’re not ready.) 
  • And what will those tweets do for my business? (It depends!)

Lots of questions, lots of opinions and lots of conference call deliberation. With this in mind, Twitter decided to spend nearly a year studying more than 5,000 unprompted brand tweets, and this is what they learned about how brands should act:

First and foremost, people do want to engage with brands. 

Recent data shows people actually want to engage with brands on Twitter (of course, on their own terms). In 2020:

  • Retweets of brand accounts were up 20%
  • Tweets mentioning brands were up 23%
  • Tweets quoting brands were up 35% and replies to brands were up 44%. 
  • About 7 out of 10 people surveyed agreed that “brand Twitter” is one of the best parts of Twitter. 

(Honestly, it’s pretty awesome to see Omaha Steaks get into a beef with Arby’s).

Remember: Your echo chamber is not your audience. 

It’s tempting to think of Twitter as a worldwide focus group, representative of universal thoughts, feelings, and opinions. But Twitter’s latest research report is a sobering reminder – especially to those of us in marketing – that “Twitter” is not necessarily your audience, the “universal” audience or even an audience worth listening to (without a careful approach to audience sampling and caveats in data analysis).

Know that while people on Twitter expect you to sell, they expect you to add value and voice, too.

While we know that people are wising up to the economics behind social media, 80% of those surveyed said that they “don’t mind being sold to on social media, as long as it’s fun, useful, entertaining, informative or moves me in some way.” But at the same time, expectations are high: Nearly half of people said it’s important for brands to weigh in on cultural issues *even when they don’t impact the brand or the brand’s space,* and 61% believe brands should acknowledge their moments of crisis when they are occurring. 

Before you tweet, please read the room. 

Bad jokes get roasted. PR-style statements get slammed. Eight out of 10 people surveyed said brands could do a better job of reading the room (taking a social temperature check) before tweeting. A rubric emerged:

  • Social and cultural issues (Should/Could: 93% / Don’t 7%)
  • Cultural holidays (Should/Could: 87%)
  • Current affairs (Should/Could: 89%)
  • Meme and internet culture (Should/Could: 90%)
  • Tv shows: (Should/Could: 88%)
  • And six out of 10 people said “brands should acknowledge moments of crisis in their advertising and communications when they are occurring)

TL;DR: Know yourself, know your audience and read the room before sharing anything – and share unique, valuable content before asking for the sale.

Are you having trouble figuring out where you land? Do a deep dive into the audience as if you were starting a brand tomorrow. How would you begin? What’s your tone? What are your topics? And who are your people? If you don’t use Twitter as an audience growth source, at least consider it as an audience data source. Talk to Revmade about this today, or follow us on Twitter, hah.



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