How Brands Used Twitter in 2012

twitter-logoTwitter is definitely a platform that will survive on the long run, constantly growing in terms of increased user base as well as brands joining in order to engage with their audiences. The latest data points out that the micro blogging service now has 200 million active users. To put the succes into perspective, in September 2011, the platform’s user base was half that amount, meaning that Twitter added as many users in 15 months as it did in the previous five years! If that can’t be described as an accelerating growth, what can be then?

Naturally, Twitter tends to be among the first choice of social media platforms that brands decide to engage in. However, in order to get the most value out of their activities, brands keep adjusting and optimizing the ways they make use of Twitter. Brandwatch’s recent report “Brands on Twitter 2012” goes deeper into the subject, analyzing 258 global brands’ Twitter activity for 2012 with comparison to 2011. Here are some of the most important conclusions from the report:

 

Brands Twitter activity
The biggest percentage of surveyed brands (91%) indicated they were using Twitter; 125 of which were tweeting 50 times per week or more. Only 10 % of the brands did not tweet in 2012, down from 16 % in 2011:

Twitter Accounts

 

Purpose of usage
The majority of brands clearly understand that Twitter is no longer just a platform for one-way communication. 75% use the platform to not only broadcast, but to engage with their audiences too:

Purpose of usage

 

Tools
More than half of the brands shared that they had switched tools for managing Twitter from 2011 to 2012. The most common way for tweeting remains the Twitter web interface. Following, Hootsuite and Speedfast are the biggest in terms of tool usage. Additionally, mobility is not only just a trend, but a way of life and community management: Brands are using mobile devices to publish tweets, with community managers tweeting from outside the office at events and elsewhere.

Tools

 

In addition, as pointed out in Nielsen’s Social Media Report for 2012, consumers not only spent more time accessing Twitter in 2012 than they did in the previous year. They are also increasingly accessing published custom content on the PC site, mobile app and mobile web page more often than any other site besides Facebook.

Therefore, if not already part of your social media presence, making use of the 140 characters to convey your brands’ messages and establish dialogues with your followers should definitely be among the top priority channels for your 2013 digital strategy. Spending time and dedication on optimizing your brand’s Twitter presence will enable you to connect with your audience at an even deeper level. It could help you to discover some of your most loyal fans, giving you the chance to give them the incentive to become your brands’ most loyal advocates and ambassadors online as well as offline.

You can download the full report from here. What are your predictions for the future of Twitter in 2013?

 

 

Instagram’s New Algorithm – What You Need to Know

IMG_8423Nearly 6 years after its initial release and 400 million users later, Instagram is fast-approaching the ad-supported dominance of Facebook. Last week, it introduced its very own algorithm, following in the footsteps of Twitter and its parent company Facebook. Whether this is an enhancement is debatable and many seem to be divided on the matter as it stands. It begins with co-founders Mike Krieger and Kevin Systrom explaining that “on average, people miss about 70% of the posts in their Instagram feed”, which may be alarming to some.

 

Twitter jumped onto the algorithm bandwagon only last month and has received its own amount of backlash from it. The fear that it will destroy live-tweeting and the key reason people love twitter is amongst the concerns. Of course, users tend to prefer what they’re used to on social networks and aren’t very welcoming to change, so this may pass.

Facebook’s introduction of its algorithm, which was due to extraordinary growth, was a much-needed overhaul of the News Feed. The fact that Facebook is bigger than the largest country on earth makes it almost essential for it to filter out unwanted posts and let its users receive the most relevant content. The question now is, does Instagram need it too?

Facebook Instant Articles was also released last year, which is a great way for Facebook to avoid the standard embedded browser mechanics that so many apps rely on. This allows users to view news more fluently by delivering a more native user experience. It also coincided with the release of the Apple News app, which has recently opened its doors to all publishers. The fact that developers are now realising the public’s thirst for news makes things extremely well-timed for the ever-growing amount of algorithms social is seeing. We need news, whether it be world news or friend news, and we need it fast – even if we missed it being posted.

 

What This Means for Brands

From a brand perspective, it is unquestionably going to become more complicated to market on Instagram. There are many visual-based brands that invest a great deal of money into Instagram to be able to reach a specific audience or age group. One example is brands paying influencers to promote their product, which has ultimately made it possible for those influencers to make a living by monetising their audience on the platform. This is achieved with a combination of brand sponsorships from companies, product promotion and follower reach. So how will it affect their livelihood? Companies will be much more demanding when it comes to requesting the influencer’s actual reach once it’s available, which will very likely decrease the amount that influencers are paid. This, in translation, means that influencers could ultimately be forced to take a pay cut with the introduction of this algorithm.

In layman’s terms, brands will be required to pay for their posts to reach their fans. This is especially true if the posts have little engagement, which exactly replicates Facebook’s model as Instagram takes its big brother’s handy advice. A key question here is, will the quality of posts increase due to content ‘needing’ engagement to push through?

Additionally, until now, brands have been supplied with little to no data on their Instagram channels. With this algorithm and a clear business objective from Facebook to increase ad turnover on Instagram, the company knows that advertisers expect something in return. The exchange is a classic eyeballs and actions for paid budgets and to prove delivery of reach and actions, Facebook will need to provide data and show that brands are getting their money’s worth.

 

Implications & Considerations

As general guidance, it may be efficient to stop thinking about news feeds as stories. A profile is a story and will probably always remain that way, but a news feed is a different beast altogether. With the algorithm, your followers might see some of your posts in their feed but far from all, making feed storytelling pretty much impossible. The challenge is to create a valuable brand presence on social that is recognizable without the context of other content.

Another discussion point is how Instagram profiles compare to Facebook profiles for brands. Facebook Pages made it easier to separate personal and brand pages, but Instagram has yet to do such a thing. Will we see something similar in the future? If so, it is sure to bring a great deal more features from Facebook to Instagram, which is undeniably the path we’re on with the two companies. Another thing to start considering is whether Instagram will eventually suppress almost all organic ads, like Facebook does. After all, having an algorithm like this can undeniably camouflage the real reason followers are missing so many posts.

Overall, Instagram is rapidly growing to greater capacities, users are posting more and we ultimately live in an algorithmic world as far as social is concerned. And as Instagram ads are managed through Facebook, they are extremely easy to target to a specific audience, which appealingly makes use of Facebook’s limitless data. These will undoubtedly merge together to form one giant supply of data and algorithms will most likely do the same. So it could be Facebook’s existing model that Instagram slowly turns into. Simply put, like father, like son.