Twitter needs to be more user friendly, improve its ad targeting, boost content curation efforts

Twitter needs to be more user friendly, improve its ad targeting, boost content curation efforts

Who owns it is not as important as making the right moves, say industry experts.


Mumbai: On 27 October, Elon Musk agreed to buy micro-blogging platform Twitter. In a message to advertisers he wrote, "Twitter aspires to be the most respected advertising platform in the world that strengthens your brand and grows your enterprise." For advertisers and agencies it is a wait and watch mode. Some feel that things should improve given that Musk is a businessperson. At the same time, who owns it is not as important as making the right moves like ensuring a brand safe environment. It also needs to be more user friendly, improve its ad targeting. There is also room for improvement in the content curation area.

Talking to RD&X Network co-founder & chairman Ashish Bhasin said that who owns the majority stake in Twitter does not matter. "What matters is the policies and principles that Twitter is going to follow. Who owns it does not mean much to advertisers. What they will watch to see is the policy decisions being taken, the ROI, is the editorial environment conducive to them? Are their ads appearing in the right context? That is going to be far more important than ownership."

He goes on to tell that there are some changes proposed and some of them look positive as well. "The proof of the pudding will rest in what happens on the ground and not in statements that are made. Hopefully the changes will keep in mind the interests of brands and advertisers." He noted that Twitter, if used properly, can lead to superb ROI. He, however, added that the lion's share of digital advertising goes to Google and Facebook. Twitter is not in that league. "But it is an important medium for certain types of brands or certain objectives that brands may have. It can be a very powerful tool if used properly.

"But from an advertisers point of view once the noise dies down one has to see the long run ROI as well as brand safety issues around editorial and freedom of speech. This is what brands are waiting to see before taking further long term decisions. But it can be pretty effective if used properly. With a relatively small sum of money you can get very powerful returns. You can reach a certain consumer base very quickly by using top of the mind issues," Bhasin added.

He points out that brand safety issues affect other digital platforms also, besides Twitter. Tech, in his opinion, can solve issues like fake news, inappropriate content, trumped up figures pertaining to viewership visibility. "This is an industry wide issue that needs to be tackled. Tech giants have the best of brains, sufficient resources and are cash rich to figure out a way to tackle this in the long run. Only the use of technology will be the solution. It cannot be done manually. The problem is too big and widespread."

Bhasin explains that the area of balancing free speech with content moderation has to be navigated very carefully. "You do not want to go too much to one side. Content that is obviously inflammatory or is promoting something illegal is about misuse of media, not about free speech." He added that recognising diversity of India will be important for platforms like Twitter. It is a matter of how much a priority regional languages will be for Twitter. Mediums that want to exploit the full potential of India cannot restrict themselves to only English. "If they do then they will play only in a niche. Some platforms have adapted better than others to regionalisation," he notes.

Since Twitter is instantaneous it will have to be careful to follow all the rules, regulations and laws of the land. "It can go viral in a very short period of time. Therefore it is the responsibility of the platform to make sure that it is not being unfairly exploited by certain people. The government is coming out with more laws for social media platforms and following them will be key,” he brings out.

Kurate Digital Consulting senior partner Uday Sodhi said that Twitter needs to scale and get in young audiences. It also needs to work on reducing fake profiles. "I'm sure it works as a good platform for brands but in India it is small compared to other social media platforms/ Facebook and Google." He also noted that with all the politics and hatred in the country, brand safety could be an issue. "Also consumer information is very limited to run anything targeted at a group of consumers." On whether Elon Musk can bring in Gen Z audiences he said that it is a wait and watch situation.

Musk had also tweeted, "Twitter obviously cannot become a free-for-all hell-scape, where anything can be said with no consequences!" NOFILTR.Group partner chief marketing officer Hitarth Dadia meanwhile said that he is very excited about Musk owning it. "There are not a lot of billionaires who are relatable. Musk is extremely relatable. Platforms need a good shakeup every now and then for people to care about them. More people will take Twitter seriously."

Meanwhile dentsuMB India managing partner Indrajeet Mookerjee said that with the transition of Twitter moving to its new owner, it is certain for the platform to evolve in terms of technology and functionality. "Apart from dismissing key executives, a couple of changes we can expect from this transition are – monetisation, gaming, and a window to innovative advertising avenues. It would be interesting to see how brands leverage these changes innovatively to play it to their advantage."

In terms of Twitter's goal to be the most respected ad platform, he noted that it surely isn’t easy to be so overnight and it would be a long journey for the platform to achieve it. "It is apparent that the platform is currently focusing on preventing the outflow of power users."

Shedding light on the role it plays in a digital marketing mix Mookerjee said that an effective way to incorporate this medium into the brand’s marketing plan is by using it as a top of funnel approach." As a social platform, Twitter lends itself excellently to achieving the first two phases of the funnel that is awareness and consideration for B2B and B2C campaigns.

"With a whopping 450 million monthly active Twitter users, the platform gives large and small businesses direct reach and avenues to engage with their target audience at their fingertips. Today, brands have capitalized on this by using Twitter as a tool to create interesting content that not only captures the audience’s attention but also draws them into having a conversation," he states.

He added that with over 500 million tweets daily, the platform is cluttered with micro-content that’s shared every minute. "However, it is this real-time engagement that continues to keep brands relevant and interact with their online community."

Social network for Web 3.0 influencers, educators, and artists Soclly co-founder Prayag Singh noted that some changes in Twitter are already being seen. The first is the cutting down on the workforce. "Sometimes you do not want to do it but it is mandatory for a long term goal. A lot of tech companies are cutting back." Secondly is the platform's move to diversify revenue streams beyond advertising. Hence the subscription fee of eight dollars a month for the blue tick verification. Thus there will also be more web 3 adoption. Musk supports Dogecoin.”

So in the future there could be integration of this cryptocurrency into Twitter. Another move he feels will happen will be a more thorough investigation before an account is suspended. "You will see a more in-depth analysis of things." He also expects Gen Z and millenials to have a more active presence on Twitter and share their thoughts. He expects challenges and changes to happen in terms of how brands showcase their presence on Twitter moving forward. He also thinks that Twitter Vines may return. This is short form video like Instagram Reels.

Meanwhile Wing Communications CEO & founder Shiva Bhavani is very clear on what Twitter needs to do to be the most respected digital ad platform. "Twitter needs to provide more value to advertisers than any other platform. This means offering the best targeting options, the most effective ad formats, and the most insightful data. Twitter also needs to continue to invest in its ad product so that it remains at the cutting edge of digital advertising.”

According to him, Twitter needs to be more user-friendly. “Twitter is notoriously difficult to use for beginners, and even experienced users can find the interface confusing and overwhelming. The platform needs to streamline its design and make it more intuitive to use.”

Bhavani also feels that the social media company needs to improve its ad targeting: “Twitter's ad targeting options are currently very basic, which makes it difficult for advertisers to reach their target audience. The platform needs to offer more detailed targeting options so that advertisers can better target their ads.”

He is of the view that Twitter needs to do a better job of curating content. “Twitter is full of spammy and low-quality content, which can make it hard for users to find the good stuff. The platform needs to do a better job of curating its content so that users can easily find the best tweets."

When asked about the impact of a new owner Bhavani noted that one could see a lot of changes happening on Twitter under Musk. "For one, he could bring some much-needed innovation to the platform. He might also make some major changes to the way the content and things are displayed, or even get rid of them altogether”. 

"And, of course, he could also add some new features that we can't even imagine right now. Whatever happens, it's sure to be interesting - and we can't wait to see what Twitter looks like under Musk's ownership," he says further.

At the same time, though, Bhavani noted that Twitter is a challenging platform for brands due to the amount of noise. The average person is exposed to over 34 GB of data per day, and that number is only increasing. In order to stand out, brands need to be strategic about their content and how they engage with their audience. 

He suggests a few ways to cut through the noise on Twitter:

1.      Use hashtags strategically: Hashtags are a great way to help your tweets get seen by more people. But don't just use any old hashtag - make sure it's relevant to your brand and your message.

2.      Engage with influencers: Twitter is all about relationships. If you can build relationships with influencers in your industry, they can help amplify your message and reach a larger audience.

3.      Be timely: Timing is everything on Twitter. Make sure you're tweeting when your audience is most active, and you're more likely to get seen.

Bhavani pointed out that as more and more brands join Twitter, the question of how effective the platform is for them becomes increasingly relevant. “While there are many potential benefits to using Twitter as a marketing tool, including increased visibility and reach, it's important to consider how well the platform aligns with your goals and objectives.”

"For example, if you're looking to use Twitter to drive website traffic or generate leads, you'll need to make sure your content is optimised for these goals. The same goes for if you're hoping to build brand awareness or create a strong connection with your audience - your tweets should be tailored accordingly,” he reveals.

"Of course, no matter what your goal is, it's essential to tweet regularly and interact with other users on the platform. The more active you are, the more likely you are to achieve success with Twitter,” he says.

So, how effective is Twitter as a tool for brands? Bhavani elucidates, “It depends on what your goals are and how well you utilize the platform. With that said, there's no doubt that Twitter can be a powerful marketing tool - it just takes some strategic planning and execution."

He goes on to add that Twitter has become an increasingly popular platform for businesses and individuals alike. As a result, many companies are now using Twitter as part of their digital marketing mix.

So what role does Twitter play in the digital marketing mix? Bhavani mentions a few key ways that Twitter can be used to help achieve marketing objectives:

1. Increasing brand awareness and reach: With over 500 million active users, Twitter provides businesses with a massive potential audience. By regularly tweeting interesting and relevant content, businesses can quickly grow their follower base and increase their brand visibility, he explains.

2  Generating leads and sales: Twitter can also be used as a powerful lead generation tool. By sharing offers, coupons, or other incentives, businesses can encourage users to click through to their website or make a purchase, he noted.

3. Building relationships and engaging with customers: In today's digital world, customers expect brands to be responsive and engaged on social media. By actively listening to and responding to customers on Twitter, businesses can build strong relationships with their target audience.

4. Providing customer service: Customers also increasingly expect brands to provide customer service via social media platforms such as Twitter. “By monitoring mentions of your business, you can quickly respond to any customer queries or concerns, helping in better customer satisfaction and engagement," he says.