Companies Unsure How to Drive Users to Twitter Brand Pages

Eloqua's Vice President of Content Marketing, Joe Chernov said the company is investing in Twitter advertising, but not for the reasons you may think.

"It puts us in a position to be invited into beta programs such as the new homepage. Our strategy is: get closer to Twitter," Chernov said in an email.

Several companies we spoke with this week questioned whether or not the brand page upgrades will change anything. Users primarily interact with the people they follow through their time, meaning they rarely, if ever, see a company's page. Even with the added bells and whistles, that may be a tough habit to break users of.

"Users scan their Twitter feeds for quick messages, not in-depth engagement" - Aaron W. Jaco

"Even for higher-involvement brands, whose customers tend to do an extraordinary amount of product research -- car manufacturers and universities, for example -- Twitter will likely remain a source for customer service, news tips and trend information," said Aaron W. Jaco, a digital media strategist with Drake University's marketing office. "If they want to delve deeper into a subject, they will be more likely to search hashtags or jump into shared articles than to delve into a corporate brand page."

Proposed changes include contests and e-commerce which may turn brand pages into an online storefront, according to executives interviewed by AdAge. The company launched a limited version of brand pages in December, and the changes are aimed in part at competing with a similar upgrade by Facebook earlier this month.

"It is reassuring to know that Twitter is focused on making brand pages more engaging," Chernov said. "Because we see it as a way to turn 'loose tie' connections into 'strong tie' relationships with our audience, the more Twitter can do to make our page - not just our feed - a destination, the better."

Experts we spoke with seem torn on whether this will be a boon for brands or a boon for Twitter. Like Facebook, much of the interaction with one's followers comes on each individual's news feed, and Aaron W. Jaco, a digital media strategist with Drake University's marketing office, doesn't see that changing much once the amped-up Twitter brand pages are unveiled.

"Consumers spend less time on Twitter than they do on Facebook, on average, and Twitter's users are proportionally more likely to access the service via mobile device," Jaco said. "Users scan their Twitter feeds for quick messages, not in-depth engagement -- and this is a valuable distinction from Facebook, not a detriment to Twitter."

Tyler Spraul, Vice President of Public Relations for WeightTraining.com said his company uses Twitter because, unlike Facebook and Google+, it allows them to monitor what customers and potential customers are saying about the brand. He expects some added functionality and customization, including an ability to "pin" tweets to the top of a feed instead of having them display in chronological order and room for more creativity than simply changing the background.

Spraul does not, however, expect a big investment of time or money by brands to improve their pages on Twitter.

"The changes will give brands an opportunity to make a better first impression with Twitter users, but beyond that, the features I'm seeing do not seem particularly groundbreaking," Spraul said. "If better e-commerce and contest features do eventually come, that may be a game change."

Steven Melfi with Burson-Marsteller in New York pointed to the recent Twitter campaign by American Express, where customers who linked their Twitter accounts to their cards got steep discounts at a wide range of retailers and service providers.

"While we feel that Facebook should be the launching pad for any social campaign, running a scalable Twitter Ads campaign will be paramount in capturing a social audience," Melfi said. "Leveraging Facebook learnings into the Twitter arena- and understanding the similarities and differences between user engagement on each platform - will be key for all brands and agencies as they continue to invest in social."


Nike's upgraded Twitter brand page, which was one of 12 unveiled in December.