Media Blogged

Twitter's retargeting service

Twitter has become the latest social media platform to offer brands the ability to retarget sponsored tweets to its users, but brands should tread carefully.

Brands in the US will soon be piloting the ability to retarget their sponsored tweets to Twitter users via sponsored tweets in their newsfeeds. It means once you’ve viewed a pair of boots on Amazon or put them in your basket for safekeeping, you might see a Tweeted ad pop up for them or a similar product a few days later underneath your tweets from your favourite Prince Philip spoof Twitter account.

Beware of trampling on privacy

Since Twitter introduced advertising into its platform, it’s been trying to find ways of making brand messaging more targeted to users. But with the privacy debate currently raging over PRISM, and consumers feeling internet giants are taking ever more of their personal data for advertising, is this good timing?

Users are always going to be wary about how their data is being used. On the whole, most people who use social media are more clued up in the first place on how their data is shared and how these brands are able to target them right from the start. We’re also at a stage with users where they are becoming more and more aware that advertisers just use their behavioural data for targeting purposes, rather than their personal information.

Know your message

From a brand perspective, Twitter’s move to trialing retargeting will open up new ways of tapping into your key audience to figure out which is the most relevant content for them. However, brands must be cautious about what they are saying to consumers, and they need to figure out exactly what it is they want from social media.

Whether the aim is to showcase new products or update on their latest activity, brands need to expertly filter the messages they’re giving out to potential consumers.

It is very easy to fall into the trap of consumer interaction and get it wrong. With the beauty of anonymity of social media, users are often less forgiving and will jump on brands that send them content they feel is not right for them. Twitter is a great tool for instant access to public opinion in real-time. But if brands put a foot wrong, they face their biggest critics and there have been many cases of brands getting a backlash response. Waitrose’s "I shop at Waitrose because...." feed garnered a particularly strong response from consumers, and not the type of interaction the retailer was expecting!

The risk brands face is if users receive a message they don’t like, they can just as easily and quickly respond with their views – not just for the brand to see but to a large proportion of its consumer base too.

Retargeting will better suit brands who haven’t built up a strong social profile to date and will become another quantifiable channel to reach lots of consumers in one go. What brands need to be clear on, however, is their enduring strategy beyond that targeted tweet and the kind of continued approach they’ll take to users in future.

Remember it's two-way

Can your social media team handle the incoming requests? Can you be as fast as you need to be in responding? Twitter users look for relationships; they look to follow brands and people that bring something useful and for content they can share into their lives. Brands would do well to use this kind of facility to be as creative as possible, to ensure maximum sharing.

To make Twitter’s new offering work, brands need to ask themselves what the aims are of using sponsored tweets or Facebook posts. The important element is to establish an on-going dialogue with your user base which is different to any other form of advertising. Those who do it well will become more favourable in this space but it will take much trial and error to find the happy balance.

Ellie Edwards-Scott is managing director of online marketing agency QUISMA

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