While Twitter sure ain’t what it used to be, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Out of all the questions marketers ask our social media strategists, this is one of the most common. “Is there still value in Twitter?”
The short-form social network has grown and changed over the years since its inception in 2006, and with that have come some growing pains. If we’re honest, those growing pains have included a bit of an identity crisis recently as social media users have doubled down on visual content. The pursuit of shinier objects has caused many marketers to lose faith in the platform.
We’re here to say there’s still hope–while Twitter sure ain’t what it used to be, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Many brands, both corporate and personal, have found success in the modern-day, text-based Twittersphere. We interviewed two local Twitter experts who have unlocked the key to social virality on the platform, continue to grow serious audiences, and know more about memes than most adults should: Iowa native and content creator Ben Vorwerk, whose 28K followers devour his quirky, millennial-friendly offerings; and Rob Miller, Marketing Director behind the beloved burrito brand @Pancheros.
Here’s what you need to know.
On the Philosophy of Twitter
The app has been asking users “What’s Happening” for over 10 years, but beyond the initial prompt, conversation has been changing. Where brands were once simply “regurgitating” existing marketing messages, conversations have taken root. Ben was adamant that we understood that to truly find success on the platform, brands must understand that (bots notwithstanding) followers are not accounts, they are humans: they need to connect in a human way. For Ben, this means tweeting in a style that is easily consumed and understood by his followers on subjects that are meaningful to them–18-22-year-olds in the Midwest love college football, burritos (sensing some overlap?), and nostalgic humor almost as much as they love talking about football, burritos, and the good old days. It’s his conversations with his followers, Ben says, that really keep the interactions and engagement high. Rob agrees–Pancheros flourishes in-store on their “every customer, one at a time” mindset, and it was a no-brainer for Rob and his team to apply it to the online arena as well. Those one-on-one interactions and conversations in the “@” feed are what keep both Ben and Rob’s followers engaged and their brands afloat in such a rapidly changing and trendy Twitterverse.
On Finding Your Brand Voice
It can be difficult for a new brand to find a sense of identity in the blinking cursor, and yet far too easy to adopt the same, quirky-yet-distant voice of a brand that hasn’t quite found its footing in all the haste of “getting out there”. It’s worth it, we’ve found, to sit down and really hash out what your brand sounds like–for Rob, direction came in the form of an already lovable brand. Pancheros’ existing easy humor and genuine positivity seemed to flow right off the marketing materials, menus, and even the uniforms of its employees onto the Twitter feed, and the results were encouraging. It seemed like what customers already loved about Pancheros, they loved even more when they could access and engage online. If your brand’s voice still isn’t clear, Ben encourages you to explore the way you and your employees or co-workers talk about the brand’s past, present, and future. You may find that the way you talk is, in essence, the way your brand talks as well.
On Driving Audience Growth
Both our experts agree–goals matter. Both Ben and Rob have tangible, intentional goals for follower counts and engagement rates, but go about achieving those goals in ways that suit their very different brands. Ben relies on a follow-back scheme to spread his brand awareness, shooting for a 10% follow-back rate (for every 10 people he follows on Twitter, at least 1 should follow him back). By tracking which time on which day has the highest return-on-follow (that’s ROF, you read it here first) he can more efficiently spend his following-time and increase his new-follower visibility. Pancheros, says Rob, uses its Twitter platform in conjunction with existing marketing channels, including print and digital marketing campaigns. These non-social platforms act as drivers to the Pancheros profile, so followers tend to rise from the geographic locations of brick-and-mortar stores.
Both brands utilize influencers, or online personalities with large follower counts. Rob and his team interact with WWE and NFL stars who already love the Pancheros brand within the app, and those organic interactions have huge success in helping Pancheros reach its Twitter goals.
Ben has similar success when he and a Florida Twitter star with similar follower demographics and subject material swap re-tweets (Ben’s followers get to see the influencer’s tweets, and vice versa)–and Ben hit Twitter jackpot when the Netflix account retweeted him, causing his follower count to soar.
Yes, Twitter has changed, and yes, the news continues to tell us to sell our stock and deactivate our accounts for greener feeds, but for now, it’s worth it to keep the engagement going. If Ben and Rob’s stories tell us anything, it’s that even after 11 years, Twitter may just be the most human social platform yet.