Why Companies Should Care About the New Twitter Profiles and 15 New Ads

Twitter has never necessarily stood out to me from a PR or content marketing standpoint; however, after the release of new Twitter profiles made headlines this week, a not-as-heavily-covered roll out of 15 new types of Twitter ads was brought to my attention. When you look at these two together, you can appreciate the significance of each of them individually, and realize that Twitter is maybe making some of its biggest moves since its IPO in order to start turning current revenue into actual profit.

New Twitter Profiles

flotusTwitter will begin to roll out new profiles featuring larger profile pictures and customized headers (those of you with profile pics that fit perfectly in the middle of the header will have to rethink that visual strategy) as well as ditching background images. The good news is that the new profiles look similar to Facebook profiles, and from a visual design and consistency standpoint, that can be a good thing.

Where content is concerned, the main Twitter stream on the new profiles will show popular content in a larger font, which should encourage users to create more compelling content but also definitely to advertise in order to boost the popularity of content that should stand out. Moreover, users can pin tweets to the top of their stream, which will have no impact on how often people blast out tweets because Twitter is primarily a mobile platform and the more you tweet about something, the more likelihood someone will actually see it on their phone.

When The New York Times covered the new profiles, they quoted Twitter’s Chief Executive, Dick Costolo saying that the service was too hard to use and vowing to make a better Twitter. The NYTImes went on to assume that “better” meant more visual cues about what’s important on a page, but I think they missed the point by thinking that Costolo was referring solely to the user experience and not Twitter’s business model.

When there are changes to a front-end, what’s always more important is whatever is going on in the back-end.

New Twitter Ads

twitter-money-bagA few days before announcing the new profiles, Twitter announced 15 new types of ads coming to users’ feeds that feature one-click actions to make it easier for users to download apps, purchase items, call a business, sign up for sweepstakes and others types of contests, and interact with ads and brands in simpler, more automated ways. For businesses exploring paid social strategies, this is massive, especially if the delivery of these ads to mobile devices is well executed.

For users, these ads will find their way into the new profiles in the near future – hopefully in a seamless way, for the sake of Twitter and its advertisers because, if this all works out, the cost of acquiring one new customer on Twitter could fall from the current $20 to be more competitive with Facebook’s $4.

Are paid social promotions part of your company’s social business communications program? If not, consider experimenting with ads on Twitter – Also LinkedIn and Facebook, which have a great ROI when it comes to reaching people (see below) – at the very least to become familiar with the platform’s ability to target exactly who you want to reach and, at most, to see how it’s possible to integrate your communications, marketing and sales efforts by levering social media to drive qualified leads into your funnel.

Cost_for_1000_Impressions_content_marketing

A Lesson in Delivery Vehicles from the Affordable Care Act

1888610_645790608803511_469519588_nAt this point, at least 6 million people are aware of the Affordable Care Act. From a storytelling standpoint, healthcare reform has been covered from many points of view – From the initial website technical difficulties, to the ongoing enrollment numbers, to partisan disagreements and bureaucratic inefficiencies (redundant, I know), to the administration’s three-week PR blitz to encourage the public to enroll, to reports on how healthcare works in other nations, to interviews with individuals and demographic group leaders discussing how they would benefit or not from the new insurance plans… to the final website glitches that made for an ironic way to end open enrollment.

But as I tuned in for updates and new information leading up to the end of open enrollment, one thing in particular stood out in my one-track mind – the places people could find information about enrollment were countless. Promotional vehicles ranged from old-school telephone campaigns; to direct mail; brick-and-mortar locations offering assistance; pop-up retail shops in various states; the now infamously glitchy healthcare.gov website that featured a blog, infographics and personal stories; states’ individual online marketplaces;  TV commercials and other forms of advertisements; social media channels including Twitter (see #getcovered), YouTube and Facebook; news programs and talk shows; official presidential addresses… all the way to the President’s appearance on “Between Two Ferns” with Zach Galifianakis, which on March 11, 2014 became the biggest traffic driver to healthcare.gov.

It was expected that a reform of this nature would call for a public relations campaign of massive proportions. However, something I have enjoyed about this administration – where PR is concerned – is that from the moment of Barack Obama’s election, his team has never been afraid to let their message travel via uncharted delivery vehicles. Or it could be that the administration was under significant pressure to deliver on enrollment numbers that they were willing to try new things. They say necessity is the mother of invention.

Saturday Night Life captured just this in their latest opening sketch.

I’m almost stubborn when it comes to trying new things. I firmly believe that having never done something is never a reason not to do it – in fact, I may even believe that having never done something is the perfect reason to go for it. This is not a battle between tradition and emerging approaches to PR, but rather the realization that audiences need information delivered to them in a variety of new ways in order to pay attention. The added challenge today is to deliver information at exactly the right time and place, and that is where digital content, social media, mobile and analytics/insights have come in to play.

Freescale Great InventorsMy plea to you, readers, is to dare to do something completely different to reach your audiences and achieve your business communications goals. Perhaps even more importantly – trust that, with careful planning, established objectives, strategic targeting and a strong storytelling framework, your PR and communications teams can execute on something that has never been done before. For example, check out the “Great Inventors” campaign my agency Lois Paul and Partners collaborated on with client Freescale Semiconductor, to get people thinking about technology innovation leading up to the 2014 Global Freescale Technology Forum (FTF).

The Content Marketing Institute, one of my favorite resources, has created an excellent playbook with ideas for content and accompanying delivery vehicles that is great for inspiration. Feel free to bring up any of these ideas during your next brainstorm session and see what ideas spark.