Twitter seems to be finding its mojo back. From being downgraded as the medium of choice for customer support, the social networking site is gradually finding a place of prominence in digital marketing plans. In October last year, eBay India launched its first ever TV commercial 'Things Don't Judge' that challenged stereotypes associated with gender and age, while showcasing its range of products. To give the campaign a push, eBay roped in influencers on Twitter, the likes of Shobhaa De and drag queen Alex Mathew, to spread the message with #ThingsDontJudge. The Twitter campaign generated 40 million impressions, with 29 million unique visitors.
Advertisers are flocking to Twitter for influencer marketing campaigns. Brands engage with influencers to generate trends, which give them equal (if not more) attention as a conventional campaign on Twitter would. "Twitter has really managed to create a revolution as far as the influencer community is concerned. Today, influencers have specialisations - entertainment, fashion, beauty, blogging, F&B, travel, etc," says Suveer Bajaj, Founding Partner, FoxyMoron, a digital marketing agency.
Earlier this year, Tata Motors took to Instagram and Twitter to create intrigue around its new sports car Tata Racemo. Without revealing the product or name of the car, a fictional female character, Cemora, was brought to life. Her travels around the world were documented in the form of pictures, postcards and videos, and posted on Instagram. On Twitter, several influencers - the likes of cricketer Suresh Raina and comedian Tanmay Bhat - promoted Cemora. Overall, the campaign garnered 57 million impressions and reached around 12 million users.
Twitter's growth globally has been stagnant for a while. According to Counterpoint Research, India is its second largest market with about 55 million monthly active users. Although it is paltry in comparison to Facebook's 180 million, Twitter is carving its own niche. It is the go-to medium for consumer-centric sectors such as telecom, e-commerce, hospitality and aviation for addressing customer grievances. Besides leveraging Twitter's influencer network to amplify their campaign reach, brands are also using it for real-time marketing and listening in to what consumers are saying about their products.
"The nature of the medium allows for two-way communication, rather than only the brand speaking to its audience," says Ritu Gupta, Director of Marketing, Consumer & Small Business at Dell India.
Social listening on Twitter has become a preferred tool for brands to monitor what the competition is up to. "Some of our clients use Twitter to figure out trends and conversations - what people are talking about or looking for," says Ahmed Naqvi, CEO & Co-founder Gozoop. Based on these insights, a brand can either come out with a marketing campaign, solve customer queries, and even surprise users with vouchers and freebies.
Sponsored trend - in which a brand pays Twitter to ensure its hashtag is trending - is another Twitter feature brands are cashing on. This is, perhaps, the only ad product by the platform which has found takers among the marketing community.
Since most brands today prefer maintaining an organic presence on the platform or hiring influencers for marketing, monetisation remains a challenge for Twitter. Its high advertising rates, compared to other social networks, repel several advertisers. It is still playing second fiddle to social networks such as Facebook and Instagram - marketers prefer using it as a secondary medium till now.
Some marketers are wary of the medium because it allows for trolling, dissent and a war of words, leading to controversies.