Using Twitter Effectively: Is it Worth the Investment


From brand managers to marketers to CMOs, Twitter has long been a perplexing place. The persistent question: is Twitter worth the investment? Using Twitter effectively has escaped clever advertisers and innovative brands alike. But for the curious brand managers, Twitter, which finally reached profitability after years of faltering, has a new metric that demonstrates your time and money may be worth it. 

The persistent question: is Twitter worth the investment?

In short, the company data shows there’s a very dedicated fanbase on the platform. To reach these loyal users though, it will take more than the half-hearted effort of repurposing content from Instagram and Facebook. Start by looking at who is actually on the platform, how they use it, and how you can adapt to communicate authentically.

In a previous article, we covered some basic ways to drive sales through Twitter. Today, we’re here to give you a little more insight, explaining what Twitter’s newest metric (mDAU) means, diving into the platform’s user base, and how understanding the two can help you to build a valuable Twitter presence for your brand.

using twitter effectively

Twitter Redefines Their Customer Base

A lot of marketers have shied away from the platform because, in comparison to Facebook and Instagram, the user numbers are small and the effort required is anything but. Not to mention, the company’s reporting tools have underwhelmed advertisers for some time now.

In the past, Twitter attempted to entice advertisers by highlighting growth in its Daily Active Users (DAU) – a metric popularized by Facebook and became common language, from one-person marketing departments all the way to Wall Street, in gauging the future upside of a social platform.

Recognizing it wouldn’t catch Facebook’s user growth any time soon, Twitter redefined its measurement of success. The new approach, which not only highlights the platform’s strengths, is a more accurate reflection of its users’ behavior on the platform.

For the past year, Twitter has pivoted to what it calls “monetizable daily active usage”, or mDAU for short. It’s not about total individual account use anymore or the growth of DAU; instead, it’s the amount of daily time spent on the app – time in which a user could potentially see an ad.

Twitter is making the smart move, emphasizing the quality of their customers rather than pure quantity. Some have called the media giant out on this, claiming the new metric turns people into data points. We’re calling bull on this point since analyzing the time people spend on the platform isn’t a new practice for any social network hoping to turn a profit.

Twitter reported a 21% increase in mDAU during Q4 of 2019, which was followed by a 12% jump in ad revenue in the next period. Regardless of how critics may perceive the metric, it is unquestionably popular with marketers.

Reassessing Your Twitter Investment

We get it. We’ve seen brand managers struggle with commitment issues when it comes to Twitter. The allure of user growth across Facebook and Instagram paired with lean social media budgets could be to blame.

Twitter’s mDAU shows that it doesn’t always have to be about the total number of users on a platform – A person who spends a few hours a day on Twitter offers a different value than a hoard of users who are less invested. Provided your fan base is there, this measurement provides brand managers and marketers a means to justify pushing content and ads on Twitter. Translation: if mDAU shows your particular audience spends a lot of time on the platform, you may have a great case for increasing your investment.

Using Twitter Effectively for a Nuanced Audience

Let’s say you’ve bought into this mDAU metric. Before diving in, it’s important to study who is on the platform and how they use it. Twitter’s audience is what makes it different from other social networks.

According to Pew Research, on average, Twitter users are younger, generally more educated, have high levels of income, are more politically active, and skew female. If these sound like your current or desired target customers, read on…

This audience isn’t here randomly; understanding why they flock to platform is vital to using Twitter effectively. In fact, Twitter’s of-the-moment nature and user base capture the Gen-Z zeitgeist.

How? Well, first, it offers a channel to voice opinions and world views. Beyond politics, Twitter’s informality removes filtering, dodging the picture-perfect inauthenticity that some feel plague platforms like Instagram. From a content standpoint, Twitter allows for bite-sized consumption, which is perfect given the generation’s alleged short attention span.

Lastly, it’s real-time in a way that Facebook and Instagram can’t match, with updates on sports, breaking world news, or commentary on the latest episode of your favorite show readily available.

mDAU using twitter effectively

An Unfiltered Approach to Communicating on Twitter

So, Twitter commands a more unfiltered version of your brand. How, then, do you go about using Twitter effectively? First, you need to develop an authentic brand persona. Yes, you’ve probably heard it before.

Every brand wants to sound genuine, but achieving authenticity is a little harder than repeating the mantra. Cultivating a presence on Twitter is more about developing an imperfect personality rather than a perfectly consistent brand image.

For starters, organic tweets are not a place for the hard sell. Sure, the occasional promotion is fine, but sounding like a billboard is a shortcut to losing credibility. People expect to interact with brands on Twitter the same way they interact with their friends. It creates a unique environment where brands can seemingly blend in with people and develop their personas. Your followers should say things like, “I’d be friends with the person behind that Twitter account”, or “They just…get it.”

Here’s the tough part: you can’t just search for the latest meme and replace a few words to make it about your brand. Instead, you need to know when your brand has a place in the conversation.

Users won’t hesitate to go on the attack against brands who come across as tone-deaf or overly self-serving. Success is a balancing act between relatability and absurdity.

Restaurant brands like Denny’s and Wendy’s surged to relevance by finding niche personas that resonate with relatable feelings people like their customers experience every day. These brands explore popular topics like loneliness, excitement, love of food, boredom and frustration with work, to name a few.

Most of all, they can laugh at themselves in the appropriate moments. Suddenly, a pancake joint has thoughts and feelings, and people love it. We’re not claiming that the creation of memes is an artistic pursuit chased only by intellectual giants. But, understanding the cultural pulse and turning it into content is a delicate dance that requires social intelligence and patience. 

We certainly don’t suggest copying the Wendy’s or Denny’s format directly. Instead, look into the analytics to learn about your potential customers on the platform. Spend some time understanding your customers’ frustrations, interests, and successes. Then take a look at how they speak and interact with one another. From there, craft a persona that fits into their world.

Using Twitter Effectively Requires Leaving Your Comfort Zone

With 126 million daily users (or more appropriately, 31 million mDAU), Twitter isn’t going anywhere. The platform’s new metric opens the door for brands willing to research and adapt their Twitter strategy accordingly.

Doing so may require stepping away from a comfort zone or behaving differently across channels (we know, it might sound like blasphemy). But when these small risks are successful, the rewards are massive. Having done their homework, brands like Wendy’s and Denny’s stand as constant reminders of Twitter’s potential upside for food & beverage brands.

As a brand manager, reexamining your current approach to Twitter is well worth the research. Using Twitter effectively can unlock a valuable and deeply invested fanbase.

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