Social Media Close-Up: Twitter

With 139 million daily users on Twitter, there’s no reason for a brand not to be on Twitter. That’s where they can effectively promote their goods and services and interact with customers by sending out tweets, responding to questions, or engaging with their followers. But for most brands, simply having a presence is not enough. Just like any of the other social media platforms, there are strategies and tactics that will actually move the needle on engagement, and potentially even sales. In general, a robust Twitter strategy includes staying relevant and up to date with trending hashtags, playing with a Twitter-appropriate tone, participating in internet fads, and engaging with fans and other brands.

Trending Hashtags

While hashtags are present on nearly every social media network, no platform has quite the same reach when it comes to daily trending hashtags as Twitter. (No wonder — hashtags came into being in 2007, the suggestion of a Twitter user and former Google developer.) These hashtags span the gamut of what’s popular, from international news to celebrity gossip to quirky holidays (e.g., Cheese Pizza Day). These daily trending hashtags change and evolve as the day passes, giving companies the opportunity to participate in conversations relevant to their brand, or skip and wait for the next one (which will be along in the blink of an eye).

Twitter’s quick pace and “onto the next thing” mentality can be difficult for some brands to manage, but it presents a unique opportunity to consistently engage with potential customers. By participating in these daily trending hashtags, a brand is adding its voice to a curated conversation related to that single hashtag. Folks aiming to keep up with these trends may stumble across a brand’s tweet, which could result in an interaction. This is all part of the web of engagement created by Twitter, which is invaluable to companies looking to increase brand awareness and build their audience.

Twitter Tone

Another one of Twitter’s most refreshing qualities is its acceptance and general use of a casual, conversational tone. Grammar rules have all but been forgotten for some, and even a few of the most buttoned-up brands have adopted a lighter, more youthful tone on the platform. As a brand on Twitter, this is one of the most difficult elements to execute, as it often does not align with brand standards, but it’s by far one of the most integral elements of a successful Twitter presence.

It’s not that a brand needs to be careless with spelling or ignore punctuation requirements altogether; a successful brand on Twitter knows how to find the middle ground with its tone. A playful, off-the-cuff tweet will be seen as more organic than a scripted, prepared statement. At the end of the day, honing in on a brand’s Twitter tone and personality is entirely specific to the brand itself, but a good rule of thumb is to remain as youthful and spontaneous as brand standards allow.

Internet Fads

Ice bucket challenge, bottle cap challenge, Willy Wonka memes – you name it, it has trended on Twitter. Similar to participating in trending hashtags, many successful brands (like Netflix) on Twitter jump on the internet fad bandwagon in an effort to drive brand awareness. This tactic is two-fold: the brand engages its current audience, and it may also attract and gain new followers. The real trick is knowing when and how to participate as a brand.

A Twitter strategist will not only stay aware of new trends, but will also brainstorm ideas on how to spin it into a brand-specific campaign. This can be as simple as changing the words in a popular meme, or as exhaustive as a produced video featuring the brand’s leadership team. Whatever the case, Twitter users not only welcome participation from brands, but encourage it — a fundamental difference in the brand/consumer relationship as compared to the other social networks. 


As important as trending hashtags, playful messaging, and relevancy are on Twitter, one element that can’t be overlooked is engagement. Many brands think of Twitter as a broadcast network: perfectly crafted messaging, scheduled and delivered to followers. This couldn’t be further from reality. At its core, Twitter is meant to be a hub of fluid conversation; an area for folks to share and connect around common interests.

Some of the most successful brands on Twitter have taken an approach that’s focused almost entirely on off-the-cuff messaging and minute-by-minute engagement. There’s always room for crafted, proactive tweets, but some of the most effective and engaging tweets stem from reactive engagement. Brands can be part of the action through retweets, responses to customers, and direct callouts to followers or other brands. Feeling more ambitious — and a bit snarky, perhaps? One playful but effective tactic used by many brands, particularly in the food and beverage industry, is to poke fun at competitors. This type of brand-to-brand interaction is common on Twitter and often drives tremendous engagement and brand awareness around the brands that are participating. 

At the end of the day, an effective Twitter strategy can include one or all of these tactics, but it must be tailored to meet specific goals and catered to the brand’s specific audience. Be proactive, stay relevant, and experiment — any brand has the opportunity to post the next viral tweet!

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Talk Back

Posted on September 27, 2019

I love that you pointed out that a Twitter strategy must be tailored to the specific brands goals according to the audience. I full heartedly agree with this as I think it absolutely important to consider the audience as well as the brand. How I may text to my best friend would be totally different from my previous professor. 😉

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