Don't Come Up Short On Twitter

We’re entering an era of atomic messaging. As Twitter’s brevity and mobility attract more users along its inexorable march to a billion, the marketing community is realizing that short is smart. Long-form media are not doomed, but the engagement bar keeps rising with respect to intensity and immediacy. As radio served notice to print, and email made direct work harder to remain relevant, now social (with an emphasis on short) is telling all media channels one thing: Get to the point.

This urgency reignites a long-time problem for marketers. It’s easier to string together reactive communications than it is to structure an integrated campaign. But that integration is precisely what the Great Twitter Rush will impose on marketers. Because you can’t establish a broader, more thoughtful context in a 140-character communication -- you must have established the base already. And short-form messaging needs to lead people back to the brand itself.



In other words, Twitter must be integrated into a pre-thought strategic construct. Winning with it is ultimately a matter of experience integration. You have to build for the experience, and build experience upon experience. Tweets can lead to treats or treatises, depending on what is appropriate for the brand. The key is that they lead to something.

Twitter is built for speed. Speed can still work for thoughtful propositions, provided that the speed creates meaningful connections. The faster we go, however, the more grounded we need to be. Optimizing for Twitter isn’t about what you do on it -- it’s what you build from it.

With each tweet, the attraction is in the offer. Sometimes it’s self-encapsulated -- an iota of information of value for a brand’s fans, in which case the context comes pre-established (they’re fans). It usually points to some other engagement content that leads to another, and another, and another. And that’s where the forward vision and infrastructure come in.

To get to meaningful engagement, marketers need to plan for the entire molecular chain upfront -- in ways that leave room for reaction, of course -- so the short pop that shows up in someone’s feed leads to a series of engagements that accumulate meaningful mass (and maybe even a sale or two).

Think of it this way: We’re used to building beaches by the truckload. Now we have to build a beach one grain of sand at a time. So it’s even more important to keep the beach in mind.

This is why contest programs that use Twitter on the front end work well. There’s a complete -- sometimes elaborate -- system in place to usher people through the chain. The thinking has been done in advance. Twitter is the lead on top of the program. Another example in B2B is research, which allows for Twitter's front end to lead to capture pages for executive summary, full report, comments and requests for presentation that can be followed up by sales reps. Both are reward-based. One reward is a prize, and the other is intelligence.

When you don’t have an offer within a natural chain, it becomes harder to integrate the short-form messaging. The grains must be sprinkled with the beach in mind. By the beach, we mean the overall experience of the brand. We’re talking your role in people’s lives and aspirations.

In practice, that means principles first. What kind of short-form content is authentic to the brand? What is on-role? What is on-permission with your audience? You can’t prescribe the language -- you can only establish the principles, so everyone is grounded in why you’re using the platform. If Twitter’s in your mix today, does it reflect your core message and connection? Hint: If you have a roomful of interns cranking out tweets, you’re not there yet.

Twitter and its cousins will work their way into the marketing surround one program at a time. As they do, marketers must learn to generate power in context: the creation of a chain of experiences that is triggered by something as short as 140 characters.


6 comments about "Don't Come Up Short On Twitter".
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  1. Steve Fajen from Steve Fajen Consulting inc., July 25, 2012 at 9:55 a.m.

    Agree. Think back to high impact 10s on TV rooted in their parent 30s for context. Tweets are personal and enjoy more influence when linked to a larger context beyond the author's head.

  2. Jon Vanhala from Island Def Jam & Republic Records, July 25, 2012 at 10:52 a.m.

    power packed wording and fully agreed on the "power in context". the short form tweet from a brand only commands desired attention and drives an action when positioned within the broader strategy

  3. Bob Rose from SMA, July 25, 2012 at 11:12 a.m. of the common misconceptions surrounding all social media, especially Twitter, is that it is easy & inexpensive to manage...but the on-going creation of engaging communications that truly support a cohesive brand program is time consuming and labor's a twist on old computer axiom: garbage out, garbage in.

  4. Abraham Mclaughlin from The Christian Science Monitor, July 26, 2012 at 7:57 a.m.

    Nice piece. "Short is smart." And brand rules. This approach can also help with measuring ROI on Twitter: By integrating it into a broader architecture, it's a line-item, rather than a stand-alone cost.

  5. James Elliott from James G. Elliott Co., July 26, 2012 at 8:19 a.m.

    On target-Social media is a part of a total communication plan. This works well in synergy, if the messaging is planned, with an overall media plan particularly one that uses magazines.

  6. Walter Sabo from SABO media, August 1, 2012 at 4:16 a.m.

    Yes it all works well if there is consistent messaging. BUT the language and imaging must be different platform to platform. The dumbest thing agencies do is take TV spot audio and use that as a radio spot. Using the same language in a tweet or FB page is equally worthless. And timing is different. You have to let go of the long, over-staffed meetings and just do it. If it doesn't work, just hit refresh. It's not the brand, it's the product.

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