Twitter rolled out the latest version of its mobile app this month, and it’s been generating a lot of buzz. In addition to new search features that enable users to navigate to specific people or tweets, Twitter added the option to filter tweets by media type, such as photos or videos.
Perhaps the quietest change rolled up into this update is a conspicuous prompt for users to tag a location as part of their tweets. This update has compelling implications for any brand monitoring and engaging consumers through social media.
In the previous version of the app, users had to choose to tag their location through a two-step process that was not widely used. (From 1 to 3 percent of all tweets are tagged with location, according to recent studies.)
One reason why tagging a location on Twitter has been less popular than on other networks is that it didn’t change the impact of the message. In other words, a tweet authored from a person’s living room would carry the same meaning to its followers as it would if it had been originated from a shopping mall. Now that photos have become a more prominent part of the Twitter feed and as location carries new status, location tags can provide valuable context and eligibility to the content.
With Twitter’s new feature, users are now asked the question directly: “Are you in Chicago, IL?” Simply tapping on this question affirms a “yes” and instantly tags the tweet with location. This action also changes the user’s default setting to automatically share location for future tweets until the function is disabled. The result: more tweets with location embedded in the content.
So, how can brands benefit?
Brand reps can use this location data to more intelligently engage customers or potential customers who now have new status based on their proximity to the business. Instead of relying solely on keywords and brand mentions, marketers can use location data to initiate relevant conversations with users who didn’t tweet directly at them. Brand reps can also harness this tagging feature and promote usage to drive real-time rewards, “surprise and delight” campaigns, and new forms of priority status for those at or near their locations.
At Earshot, we recently conducted a study that found more than 90 percent of all tweets and Instagram posts authored within a one-block radius of a major retailer did not contain the appropriate Twitter handle, hashtag, or even the name of the brand. These posts represented missed opportunities to drive in-store traffic and revenue for that particular retailer, as many of them included words like “shopping,” “shoes,” and “sale.”
The question then became whether consumers would be open to these types of interactions with brands. Do they find it intrusive when a brand initiates a conversation even when they weren’t directing their original tweet at the brand? How could the brand connect with them in a way that generates a positive response?
We recently ran a test with one of our clients to find out. Out of 175 unique engagements between brand and consumer over a 12-hour span, not a single consumer response was negative. Conversely, the engagements actually drove positive responses from consumers 18 percent of the time as they were re-tweeted, favorited, or led to a positive conversation with that user. These proactive engagements based on proximity yielded invaluable earned media and lift for the brand that would have been previously missed.
The key is to keep it relevant, and for brands armed with location data, relevancy becomes much more attainable.
There is untapped opportunity to engage prospective customers who are in a position to transact but often go undiscovered. These are valuable consumers who can wield their social influence in a positive way while they are in the midst of an experience with the brand. In contrast to noisy, unwelcome location-based ads, clever conversations on social media can lead to a deeper, more personal connection and instantly create a stronger relationship between brand and consumer.
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With users bound to tag location more frequently on Twitter, there is a new frontier of possibilities to engage users in relevant ways to win new customers.
David Rush is the CEO and co-founder of Earshot, a proximity-based social media engagement platform for brands and agencies. Say hello on Twitter @davidmrush and @earshotinc.