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Twitter is 10: A Look Back At How Its Changed Marketing7 min read

7 min read

Today is the tenth anniversary of Twitter, a social media platform that has, in many ways, changed the world. When you look back over the last ten years of Twitter’s existence, you can see countless examples of the social media platform having an impact on events, news, brands and current affairs.

For marketers, Twitter has opened up a plethora of new ways to promote their products and engage with audiences. When you sit down and really think about what Twitter enables brands to do, you will get a new wave of appreciation for this simple yet ground-breaking social media site. 140 characters may be short, but you can do and say much more than you think with a simple Tweet.

A Brief Look Back

Twitter was founded on the 21st of March 2006, it was initially created as a way of sharing a ‘short burst of inconsequential information.’ The first ever Tweet on the microblogging site was by Twitter CEO and cofounder Jack Dorsey while he was an NYU student, and it simply said ‘just setting up my twttr’.

In case you didn’t know why the name ‘Twitter’ was chosen, it’s named after the Oxford English meaning of the word Twitter, which means ‘a short inconsequential burst of information, chirps from birds.’

In 2011, Audi became the first brand to integrate a hashtag into its Super Bowl commercial, with fans Tweeting #ProgressIs to win prizes. Twitter even had its first marriage proposal in 2008, which obviously sparked a lot of interest.

The mind boggles when you think about how far the company has come since its humble beginnings. Twitter now has over 320 million monthly active users, and is an essential tool for online marketers who want to harness the power of social media. While some other big social sites have been and gone, social media experts say Twitter is here to stay. It has longevity, and has evolved in many ways over the years. After its launch, Twitter gradually become the go-to source for breaking news. Perhaps one of its most significant moments came in 2009 when a Twitter user, not a journalist or news outlet, took the first photo of US Airways Flight 1649 after it crash-landed in the Hudson River. User @jkrums Tweeted ‘There’s a plane in the Hudson. I’m on the ferry going to pick up the people. Crazy.’ It has given users a platform to use their voice, spread their vision and become part of worldwide communities. Many marketers and journalists use the platform as their primary source of news, as many big stories are broken here before anywhere else.

When Oreo responded to the power cut at the Super Bowl, they did so in game-changing fashion. Their timeless ‘you can still dunk in the dark’ tweet was instantly retweeted hundreds of thousands of times and as such, the real time marketing playing field was changed.

What impact has Twitter had on marketing?

Twitter has literally transformed marketing by bringing consumers closer to a brand’s personality, giving brands the chance to be more original and enabling consumers to have a platform to voice their thoughts. For some brands, Twitter is now a major customer service platform, where marketers respond to problems and troubleshooting.

Twitter’s ability to give brands the opportunity to instantly place themselves in front of consumers, has given them the opportunity to form much more personal relationships with their audience. Using humour has time and time again proven to be a winning formula for brands; and used in a timely fashion like Snickers did in 2014 can be pure gold dust.

The chocolate brand responded to the Luis Suarez biting incident during the 2014 World Cup by Tweeting ‘Hey @luis16suarez. Next time you’re hungry just grab a Snickers. #worldcup #luissuarez #EatASNICKERS.’ These kind of opportunities simply weren’t possible for marketers before the bird of Twitter.

Twitter has given brands the chance to really show what they are made of and to engage with audiences in a completely new way. For example, when American Express sent music fans personalised digital autographs signed by Pharrell. In 2012, Tesco launched its first Twitter giveaway campaign, asking users to pull one of 50,000 virtual crackers by tweeting using the hashtag #pullacracker. They also joined in a hilarious debate with Yorkshire Tea and Jaffa Cakes in 2013 that created a lot of admiration for all three brands.

Twitter provided the perfect base to encourage user-generated content. From competitions to twitter takeovers, brands have been able to personalise their relationships with consumers. Arguably, no one does this better than Go Pro. Their Photo of the Day hashtag provides the brand with hundreds of thousands of brand mentions every single day. -photo

With the growth of Twitter came the growth of the ‘influencer’. Bloggers and vloggers present a new way to reach out to audiences and have enormous influence over what people do and don’t buy. Savvy brands harness the power of the social media elite and capitalising on them to create lucrative and refreshing campaigns.

According to Twitter, ‘we have seen the rise of a new breed of influencer: the digital creator. Brands have played an integral role in working with these creators, pioneering new forms of creativity, and building a highly authentic connection with their audiences.’

Twitter has given marketers an incredible view into the lives, thoughts, emotions and values of the consumer. Valuable audience insights analysis has given brands the opportunity to unleash data-driven marketing campaigns targeted specifically at your interests and values. Content campaigns which draw on your very emotions and beliefs, an insight we never previously had without mass spend on research.

What does Twitter’s future look like?

It’s no secret that despite Twitter’s success, the company has had its ups and downs. Competing with other social sites and adapting to an ever-changing digital world certainly isn’t easy. They recently launched their new promoted moments ads as they look for more ways to grow their revenue.

Twitter explained ‘We’re seeing how powerful this experience can be for diving into meaningful narratives – and since Twitter’s inception, brands have told some of the very best stories on the platform.’ The chose specific brands to work with including Tesco, XBox and Sky.

One major change to watch out for is a possible change in character length, which could either enhance Twitter, or take away its real value. This would give brands more freedom and a chance perhaps to tell more detailed stories. They have also recently partnered with Periscope, which drops live video into your Twitter timeline. It’s all part of Twitter’s attempt to be the right now social network and it enables news to travel even further to an even wider audience. Twitter’s algorithm is also constantly changing, now you don’t have to miss out on important Tweets from people you follow. When you follow a lot of people, Twitter can be a little overwhelming, and you occasionally feel like you miss important stuff. Now Twitter makes sure that ‘the Tweets you’re most likely to care about appearing at the top of your timeline – still recent and in reverse chronological order.’

This means that users will be more directly engaged with the brands they have a genuine interest in. Therefore brands will have to work harder to connect with followers on a deeper level and fight harder to break through all the noise. However, this feature could encourage more shares for brands that get it right, as Twitter has found ‘people who use this new feature tend to Retweet and Tweet more.’

Twitter has many innovative updates in store for us, many of which look like they will be here to stay. The platform needs to continue to find ways to remain competitive in an ever-changing online world. Here’s to the next ten years (and hopefully many more) of marriage between Twitter and marketing.