Last week, Twitter announced something that had long been sought after by brands using Twitter for marketing – Twitter brand pages. With the move, and some of the unique features it enables, Twitter moves one step closer to creating the kind of branded social destination pages that have long been the centerpiece for companies on Facebook. There have been some very good write-ups of the features and implications, so I won’t bore you by rehashing them all here.
As long-overdue as this feature is, and as much hype as it is getting, it’s a follower acquisition tactic and just a step along the way to the real goal of getting people to opt-in to your content stream. Just like with Facebook spotlight tabs, beyond the first-visit experience by a non-fan/follower the Twitter brand page itself has limited utility. The real value, as I stated a few months ago, is in the content stream. That’s where the engagement happens, where the social spread of your ideas and content occurs, and where the ultimate ROI – measured however you prefer – will be realized.
Let’s go back to Facebook for a moment. We know from experience that the majority of traffic to most brand Facebook brand pages tends to cluster in two places – the Wall, where current fans land, and the default landing (or “spotlight”) tab, where non-fans land. One is a home for engagement and interaction, the other serves to quickly grab a visitor’s attention and entice them to become a fan and opt-in to all that wonderful engagement.
As designed, Twitter’s new brand pages are roughly equivalent to a mashup of the Facebook Wall + landing tab, limited to non-followers. For current followers, chances are they will never see the shiny new brand page, just like fans of a brand on Facebook will likely never glimpse the often-amazing landing tabs (or any of a brand’s tabs, really). Follower attention, rightly, will be focused on the content stream and the engagement it inspires, which they will most likely be consuming through 3rd-party apps and sites accessing the Twitter API.
Helping expose that content stream, in ways that add tremendous value to other types of brand content (blog posts, web pages, etc.), is why I’m so excited about Twitter’s other big announcement around Embedded Tweets, but that’s for another post.
— Kevin Briody (@kevinbriody) December 14, 2011
The long-term value of social media is in the engagement centered on the content stream, whether it lives through your Facebook updates, blog posts, videos, or Tweets. The majority of your focus should be around making that stream as rich (in terms of great content) and rewarding (in terms of great interaction and discussion) as possible. To get people to opt-in to that stream is of course critical, and that’s the role Twitter Brand Pages – just like Facebook landing tabs – will play: follower acquisition.
With all the buzz and focus around these new pages, and the many beautiful or innovative designs I’m sure we’ll see in the coming weeks and months, just keep that in mind. Twitter brand pages are follower acquisition tools, and are not destinations for existing followers to find anything of much value. For established brands on Twitter, are focused on engagement with their already large/mature follower bases, the brand page is less of a necessity.