By Richard Anderson rich_anderson9 As part of Social Media Week London, I attended a talk hosted by Georgina Parnell @parns from Twitter...

Capturing the Twitter Moment @ Social Media Week #smwthemoment

By Richard Anderson rich_anderson9

As part of Social Media Week London, I attended a talk hosted by Georgina Parnell @parns from Twitter to educate and inspire brands, agencies and media alike to ‘Capture the Twitter Moment’. The crux of the message was to highlight that every conversation in social is a potential marketing moment, and that brands need to focus their efforts to be more responsive and agile to these ‘live’ events. Some of the talk felt like a sales pitch for Twitter advertising (which is perhaps understandable) but it was her logical discussion regarding Twitter trends and everyday usage that was the real eye opener, fully supported with a whole suite of statistics.

We’re frequently reminded of social media growth, so I’ll keep the recap brief. Twitter’s UK active users are growing 50% YoY, currently at 15million. Whilst there are more than just murmurs of whether Facebook might be dying, I’ve not heard any whispers of such claims in the light blue corner. What Georgina was clear to communicate was the relationship between Twitter and TV and how the former has given the latter a resurgence of life with record levels of engagement.  60% of UK Twitter users now use the platform while watching TV (what we call the second screen). During last week’s episode of ‘Chicken Shop’ there was a peak of 140 tweets per second, with similarly impressive figures for XFactor and other primetime shows. Thankfully it’s not just terrible TV where we’re seeing this activity, however it’s indicative that discussion is rife. And where there’s this vast dialogue, there’s real potential for brands to effectively piggyback and get involved by the clever use of hashtags, and if possible, utilize Twitter advertising to get supreme levels of engagement. 

Georgina’s main points were to show that much of what occurs on Twitter is actually very predictable. 40% of activity occurs at teatime, when lets face it, TV is actually worth watching. At a more granular level, tweet volumes during television dramas are typically book-ended, factual programmes are more consistent, and films that are aired at different times on different channels generally experience the same activity patterns (e.g. at the most dramatic points). These stats were an amazing insight into what Twitter can determine, and I only hope that these were publicly available since it would be an education to agencies and brands alike.

What Georgina was trying to get across is that Twitter, though real-time and always-on, ‘Live’ is manageable and should be taken advantage of. Brands shouldn’t be fearful just because there’s less time to plan ahead and receive approval for content strategies. Take for example a big sporting event; we know that it will likely attract high levels of tweeting. Put simply it’s an opportunity for relevant brands. It’s likely to be scheduled weeks in advance and the parameters of the game are defined by factors such as time, the rules, the likely players, the demographic audience and so on. A good example given was #transferdeadlineday, which occurred early this month. Many of the football deals had been rumoured for months, so this speculation itself offered brands a prime area of content to be capitalized upon.

So a brand team looking to be active in social in realtime can come up with rough estimations of what they can talk about. Sure, it requires creativity, the ability to be agile and offer a unique stance on the circumstances, but shouldn’t all content creation? Without this, audiences will see straight through their motives to piggyback on social media’s footfall. This was a question that I raised with Georgina, isn’t it just going to annoy audiences seeing unrelated brands butting-in on things that I’m interested in? I still think it might, she didn’t, but then again why not test it? Twitter’s a free-for-all and you don’t need to be friends to appreciate one’s opinion, brand or human. I mentioned ‘relevant’ brands but of course, they don’t always need to be. Heck, I’ll probably appreciate a funny or insightful tweet from @BandQ about something I’m watching. If anything, real-time offers the chance to humanize the brand in ways one-way corporate content never could. Waterstones captured it brilliantly – they’re so unrelated to football but they show confidence with this funny even self-deprecating tweet.

The point is you need to have a stance and be original or you’ll just get lost amongst the noise. The classics such as Oreo during the NFL Superbowl blackout earlier this year show this on an unrivalled scale, but it doesn’t need to be a Eureka moment, backed up by a war-room of marketers every time. What matters is that you’re getting eyeballs on your fresh content in a way that relates to what users care about, and that hopefully is more valuable. 

To summarize, the potential rewards are huge and I think we’ll see a real increase of brands doing this kind of marketing because the risks are manageable (to an extent). It requires a brand to commit to adapting their approach to social content and with that comes a real need to be in agreement with what the boundaries are, and importantly, there’s got to be a real level of trust - without which no community or brand manager will sleep at night. 

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