As the buzz around the Twitter IPO begins to subside, forward-thinking marketers continue to ask the question, “How will the IPO impact my marketing efforts on the platform?”
One thing we know for sure is that once Twitter goes public there will be much more pressure from stockholders to generate revenue. This is great news for businesses and marketers as we should expect to see more products from Twitter that will allow us to connect, influence, and engage our audiences on the platform (and beyond).
To say exactly what these new offerings will be at this point would be pure speculation. However, taking into account Twitter’s run-up to the IPO announcement, its position within the social web, and the impact that an IPO has on any company (just take a look at Facebook and LinkedIn’s IPOs), we can begin to make educated guesses about how the IPO will affect businesses and how marketers can begin preparing now.
Twitter Goes Mainstream
As Twitter goes public expect to see initiatives to bring a wider audience base to the platform. Although it boasts over 200 million members and has impacted some of the most important events of the past seven years, most people still don’t consider Twitter mainstream. This is about to change.
This change will be impacted by several different factors. For starters, as the IPO draws closer and closer, expect to see more curious people joining the network to see what all the hype is about. Twitter will put a specific focus on making sure these people stick around. We’re already starting to see some of these efforts as AllThingsD recently reported about Twitter’s upcoming redesign of the mobile app to specifically appeal to a more mainstream, less techie, audience. As only the third major interface change in the platform’s seven year history, investors who want to see a larger demographic attracted to the site will welcome these efforts.
And then there’s the natural outgrowth of Twitter advertisers looking to bring more of their offline consumers onto the platform. As Twitter continues to offer more ways for advertisers to reach audiences, expect to see these advertisers integrating Twitter more into our daily lives. One has to look no further than the TV networks to get an example of this. We’ve all seen the #hashtags prominently displayed on the TV throughout the entire duration of a show. Twitter recognizes the potential audience, engagement and most importantly ad revenue these networks can bring to the platform and is taking concrete steps to cater to them. Earlier this year Twitter made its biggest acquisition to date by acquiring Bluefin Labs, which monitors online chatter about TV shows and also announced a partnership with Nielsen to provide a “Nielsen Twitter TV rating” for broadcasters and advertisers. Most recently, they’ve announced a partnership with CBS to sell sponsored video-based tweets for 42 of CBS’s shows and digital properties.
So with this audience growth comes new opportunities. Marketers would be wise to begin scaling now so that they are prepared as this influx of new users join the platform. We all know how fast Twitter already moves and the challenges of staying relevant on such a rapid-fire platform. For the unprepared, these challenges will only increase, but savvy marketers will find unprecedented opportunities to connect with this audience just as they are joining the platform.
I don’t think it is an overstatement to say that Twitter’s success will depend on how will it performs on the mobile front. Twitter clearly recognizes the importance of mobile, which is fitting considering the real-time nature of mobile and the real-time nature of Twitter.
Twitter has always been a mobile platform and was amongst the first to prove that the in-stream mobile ad model works. If there is one thing marketers can count on, it’s that there will be numerous new mobile ad models rolling out in the months to come.
Even before knowing exactly what those new offerings will be, it’s safe to say that taking the time to learn about the nuances of your targeted Twitter users on mobile vs. desktop so that you can most effectively advertise to them, and understanding the critical role that mobile has come to play in the consumer purchase cycle overall will be an investment with concrete ROI as Twitter continues to solidify its position as a leading social-mobile platform.
Their recent acquisition of MoPub, a platform that allows mobile apps to choose which ads are shown to their users, speaks to their serious efforts they’re putting into their mobile offerings.
As with Facebook and LinkedIn, what if MoPub’s acquisition means that Twitter is looking to extend its advertiser’s reach to outside of the platform? What if those small banner ads you see as you play games on your favorite apps now become promoted tweets? Think of the possibilities. You open an app to find the closest place to eat and you’re served a banner ad tweet from a local restaurant about a current special they have going on.
Twitter could utilize Mopub to cater those promoted tweets based on the demographics of the people most likely to be using the app. MoPub already serves up 2 billion ad slots per day, imagine if only a small percentage of those were to become promoted tweets.
Think Real Time
Twitter has become the web’s real-time information portal. Combine that with the fact that it is widely used on our most real-time device – the mobile phone – and you can see how Twitter clearly has the opportunity to usher in a new era in real-time marketing. From music to TV to national events, Twitter will continue to try to position itself as the web’s “official” real-time conversation hub.
To prepare for this, rather than simply scheduling tweets and monitoring keywords, marketers should begin thinking about what real-time opportunities may arise within the audience they’re looking to connect with. This goes beyond serving ads to users who tweet about a targeted keyword, but rather understanding the context in which people are tweeting about it and how your product or service can fit in to this context.
A word of caution, real-time marketing isn’t something to be taken lightly. There have been many blunders of companies trying too hard to capitalize on real-time events (Royal Baby anyone?) But successfully executed, it can have long-lasting benefits (quick what product can you still dunk in the dark?)
But real time marketing isn’t just about clever ways to take advantage of widely trending topics. It’s about timely interaction with your audience around the topics they’re passionate about. It goes beyond simply monitoring conversation, but rather being a part of those conversations. It’s not just about national brands harping on national events, it’s also about local businesses using Twitter’s geo-targeting capabilities to understand the real-time conversations happening right in their neighborhoods. Then as brands become more comfortable with conversing on the fly, they become better positioned to seize opportunities when headline-making events do occur.
So as you can see, Twitter’s IPO is an exciting event for marketers worldwide. Although we may not be able to predict exactly what those offerings are, the ways that we use paid methods and the audience on the receiving end of those paid offerings is certainly about to change. Starting to prepare now for those changes will have a significant impact on both your social and mobile marketing efforts.
What are your thoughts? What do you think the impact of Twitter’s IPO will be for businesses and marketers?
Kwan Morrow leads the social media team and develops objective based digital strategies for clients at Slice Communications, a Philadelphia based PR and Social Media agency. He has written three ebooks on the changing nature of social, digital, and mobile marketing and regularly gives presentations to companies looking to implement digital initiatives throughout their organization. Follow him on Twitter @SocialKwan.