Twitter Publishes New Guide on What Consumers Expect from Brands via Tweet

Twitter has published a new report which looks at how brands can maximize their success on the platform, based on evolving consumer trends and expectations in the app.

Called #RealTalk, the guide is the result of analyzing a decade worth of brand tweets, and user tweets about brands, along with numerous consumer surveys, in order to get a real view on what works in modern Twitter marketing, and what Twitter users both respond to and expect.

There’s a heap to take in – you can download the full, 50-page guide here, but in this post, we’ll take a look at some of the highlights.

First off, Twitter notes that the brand conversation is rising on Twitter, with more people looking to engage with brands in the app.

Twitter #RealTalk brand guide

That presents significant opportunity for awareness and connection, and the platform has become an even more important connective tool amid the pandemic. This highlights the need for brands to get their messaging right, and as times and issues change, so too are consumer expectations about a brand’s Twitter presence.

Twitter #RealTalk brand guide

Consumers want brands to communicate authentically, and honestly, in order to provide valuable, real-time updates via tweet. But the key problem highlighted in the report is that years of best practice guides and tips have now lead to a new issue – all brand profiles on Twitter are starting to sound the same.

Twitter #RealTalk brand guide

That’s not overly surprising – every time there’s a viral tweet sensation or resonant event tie-in, brand Twitter goes crazy in its praise, while analysis of top tweet trends, which seek to condense best practice guides down into actionable tips – i.e. amount of hashtags to include, ideal character length or tweets – discount uniqueness and variation in favor of broad analysis. Which may provide some valuable guide notes, but a side effect is that when everyone is following the same playbook, everything starts to feel similar.

Based on this Twitter advises that brands need to evolve their messaging, and ensure that they’re connecting with their audiences based on the times, and what’s happening in the world.

Twitter #RealTalk brand guide

Even more specific, Twitter also outlines the kinds of events that people want to see brands tweet about, or not, helping to guide your approach on each.

Twitter #RealTalk brand guide

Basically, no one cares about a business’ opinion on the latest episode of The Mandalorian, no matter how on-brand it might be.

Of course, as with the above note on general advice, this is based on broad tweet analysis, and within that, nuance can get missed, and there could well be a brand that ignores all of these guides and does the complete opposite, yet still sees success. The key lies in knowing your target audience, and what they expect. And really, that’s the key message of Twitter’s overall guide, that while general advice can be helpful, you need to stick with your brand messaging, and voice, to truly win out.

Twitter #RealTalk brand guide

Which reminds me of the ‘Five Whys’ theory, which aims to help brands identify their purpose, in order to then better define their messaging, by prompting them to dig into the core purpose of what they do.

As outlined by the Harvard Business Review, the ‘Five Whys’ are answers to a question posed to your business. You start with a statement – either ‘We make X products‘ or ‘We provide X services‘ – then you ask ‘Why is that important?‘ and you provide five consecutive answers to each subsequent response. As you go through those answers, you’ll end up moving closer to truly understanding your businesses’ actual purpose, which you can then narrow down to a singular statement, enabling you to unify your company activities to work towards that goal.

From the HBR report:

The five whys can help companies in any industry frame their work in a more meaningful way. An asphalt and gravel company might begin by saying, We make gravel and asphalt products. After a few whys, it could conclude that making asphalt and gravel is important because the quality of the infrastructure plays a vital role in people’s safety and experience; because driving on a pitted road is annoying and dangerous; because 747s cannot land safely on runways with poor workmanship or inferior concrete; because buildings with substandard weaken with time and crumble in earthquakes. From such introspection may emerge this purpose: To make people’s lives better by improving the quality of man-made structures.”

That’s similar in approach to Twitter’s brand voice notes above, going deeper into not only how you communicate, but why, and what you’re aiming to share with your audience with each tweet. Establishing these key elements can go a long way in defining your brand voice, and distinguishing your business from every other – which, as Twitter notes, is increasingly important based on user feedback.

It’s a good guide – not hugely in-depth on each step, but providing relevant, actionable pointers for real branding via tweet, and connecting with users based on your key focus areas.

Because while having a lot of followers may look good, and may feel important, having fewer followers who are actually likely to buy from your business is potentially far more valuable. And you do that by establishing brand voice, brand purpose, and how you connect with your target market.

Worth considering in your approach.

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