David Clarke is CEO and co-founder of BGT Partners, a 2010, 2011 and 2012 Ad Age Top 15 Best Places to Work in the U.S. honoree. BGT creates interactive marketing and technology solutions for global corporations that strengthen brands, develop more engaging relationships and transform businesses.
With increased competition for ad dollars, Twitter is making a big push this year to become more attractive to advertisers. It has invested in a redesign, as well as brand pages, but that may not be all the social network plans to unveil.
According to a recent Ad Age report, the company is looking to add new experiences to its platform, in the hopes that the move will entice brands to spend more ad dollars.
Although Twitter hasn’t officially confirmed these rumors, it’s worth taking them seriously. See below for the three possible changes, and what each could mean for brands.
1. Open Platform
Facebook and Apple transformed their businesses by opening their platforms to third-party developers. The move allowed independent developers to create new ways for consumers to engage with brands. As a result, we now have multi-million dollar businesses built around these apps.
If the rumors are right, Twitter is heading in the same direction by opening its platform to developers.
An open Twitter platform would allow brands to create deeper interactions with consumers through custom experiences. This would not only be an opportunity for developers, but also for brands — especially those with strong Twitter presences. For example, if you’re using Twitter as a customer service channel, then a customer service app could potentially streamline the way you handle customer support.
That said, apps on Twitter will face inherent challenges. The Twitter stream is the main attraction, and most people don’t visit brand pages directly. Plus, popular Twitter browsers such as TweetDeck and HootSuite are built around the Twitter stream, which deals another blow to the power of brand pages. Perhaps custom apps can find a way to drive more traffic to brand pages, but it seems doubtful.
Social commerce was hailed as the next big thing in ecommerce. Several brands developed ecommerce integration on the Facebook platform, hoping people would want to purchase while on Facebook, but it never really took off. Gap, JC Penny, and Nordstrom closed down their Facebook shops because customers preferred to shop on the main websites. This probably had more to do with the poor Facebook ecommerce user experience than with Facebook itself. Most of these early f-commerce attempts were simply developed without an understanding of how Facebook could add value to the shopping experience.
Now, Twitter is rumored to try its luck with social ecommerce for brand pages. Will it be successful?
Fundamentally Twitter has to succeed where Facebook failed. Twitter ecommerce, or t-commerce, has to create a significant added value to make it more compelling than shopping from a traditional web store.
“It’s likely that Twitter’s ecommerce solution will include a deep integration with Square, the mobile payment company Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey established in 2009. It’s possible that t-commerce will be a mobile-only service that uses location-based technology and one-click payments with your Twitter name. That would add significant value to Twitter’s mobile user base, especially when you consider that 50% of Twitter’s users are accessing Twitter on mobile devices.
3. Contests and Sweepstakes
Lastly, Twitter is rumored to introduce contests and sweepstakes for brand pages to create deeper brand engagement. That said, brands have been pushing contests and sweepstakes on Twitter for some time, and given the viral capabilities available with retweeting and hashtags, it will continue to happen.
Will an official change by Twitter be groundbreaking? Probably not, but it’s likely that these changes will allow brands to more efficiently manage and execute campaigns on this social network.