For a long time, if you heard the term social media it was usually followed by the words ‘Facebook and Twitter’. For most people coming across the concept of social media for the first time in the 2000s, these two weren’t just the first social networks they were exposed to, they were social media.
While Facebook managed to take full advantage of being a prime mover in the early days of social, evolving continuously to become a behemoth and the dominant platform in the space, Twitter has remained more stagnant and looks more or less the same as it did a decade ago. The difference now is there’s plenty of other platforms offering new and exciting experiences and building audiences comparable or greater than Twitter’s user base.
When you combine the fact that the network has had a rough 2016, with markets disappointed with advertising and revenue figures and rumours of a potential buyout by Alphabet, not to mention the fact that the network’s most prominent user is Donald Trump, there’s an understandable question mark around whether or not Twitter should still be a part of your communications strategy going forward.
The short answer is it depends, but probably yes. Most organisations can still benefit from what Twitter offers and it can be a vital tool within your communications mix when used correctly. But it’s important to understand who is on Twitter and what it can be used for in 2016 and beyond.
Why Twitter isn’t going anywhere
A lot of the negative coverage of Twitter generated this year has been from a financial and specifically an advertising revenue standpoint, where figures fell below projections. Twitter just simply doesn’t have the range of advertising options or the enormous audience to draw from that Facebook (and Facebook-owned Instagram) can offer. Hence, the prospect of an Alphabet or another tech giant with billions to spend acquiring Twitter is a real possibility.
But Twitter not being able to match advertising revenue with Facebook doesn’t mean that Twitter is in trouble as a social network. In fact, it’s still growing with over 300 million active users. Here in Australia, Twitter’s reputation as being unpopular has not been without merit but it should be noted that there are 5 million active users down under – which is by no means insignificant.
While Snapchat is perceived to be the hot new thing within social, the demographic of its user base remains significantly in the under 25 age group. Comparatively, Twitter maintains a strong demographic spread across the 24-65 age range, which remains very useful in reaching a broad audience or multiple segments in one place. And with Facebook hit with a series of embarrassing admissions about false and incorrect reporting in their analytics over the last few months, there’s still plenty of demand for alternative platforms that can deliver a broad, demographically diverse audience and accurate, insightful analytics for tracking and research purposes.
Who should be on Twitter?
So with reports of Twitter’s demise being greatly exaggerated, should your organisation be on Twitter? The answer is yes, with the proviso that it does require regular (i.e. daily) attention to be most effective. Your Twitter channel is best used as an information source for your target audience, where you can position your organisation as an authority within their field and respond rapidly to emerging events and trending topics to put forth your product or position.
Twitter’s ability to break news and react to live events remains its greatest strength, and while Facebook has been desperate to make up ground this year with a heavy focus on live video, Twitter is counterbalancing with new features and by acquiring and integrating services like Periscope to maintain their position. Your organisation’s Twitter account remains the best vehicle to react and respond to relevant events and stories, which takes the pressure off your staff having to commit to time-intensive content creation. But what it saves in time spent creating, it does require time invested into monitoring trends and identifying opportunities in real time.
Twitter is also the place to be when it comes to generating real media coverage opportunities. Journalists and content creators are certainly overrepresented on Twitter, but fostering relationships and catching the eyes of the right people there can translate to opportunities on other social platforms and even in traditional media. Twitter also remains the key tool in a PR emergency – the ability to send rapid, succinct messages in real time and keep a steady flow of information going out in a crisis is absolutely fundamental in today’s social media age. Silence is deadly when it comes to controlling the narrative, and the expectation for some form of communication from an organisation during a crisis is now measured in minutes, not hours.
If you’re convinced that a Twitter account is worth having but now want to know what to do with it, stay tuned for our next blog were I break down the secrets of building a following and how to design a content schedule, as well as what times work best for Twitter content.
For further digital & social media advice, please contact Campaign Capital.
CGM Communications influences and inspires action through connection and the sharing of stories. We support strategic communication with the community, government and media.