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Twitter Puts Mobile Front and Center for the Holidays

Rachel Pasqua
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Twitter MobileIt's easy to forget that Twitter started out as a mobile service. Sure, it always had a web-based UI, but that 140 character limit was originally set because the founders figured most users would be posting their updates via text message.

So you'd think the fact that it's a primarily mobile social network would be yesterday's news, but there was still a rush of excitement over some of the numbers announced in last month's IPO filing.

  • Out of 218.3 million active monthly users, 75 percent access Twitter from a mobile device (phone or tablets) making for a grand total of 163.5 active mobile users per month.
  • What's more, 65 percent of Twitter's ad revenue comes from mobile.

And they only expect these numbers to grow.

We can draw a couple conclusions from this:

  • If you're actively engaged with your users on Twitter, you'd better address how your site performs on a mobile device. Because a good 75 percent of the clicks to your content are going to be from a mobile browser and if your site doesn't perform well, most of what you are doing on Twitter is a wasted effort.
  • These highly mobile users are more "in the moment" than their desktop counterparts and consequently, more likely to act on an offer, visit a location or perform any number of real-time actions. All good things to know if you are a brand gearing up for Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Luckily, these mobile users are top of mind for Twitter too, as they continually improve the service, and the company's most recent announcements are especially interesting. On November 19, several interesting feature updates to its Android and iOS apps were announced on the Twitter blog, including:

  • Top Tweets/All Tweets Filter: A high volume of information has always been one of Twitter's big drawbacks. Users are forced to dig deep through multiple retweets and related tweets to get to the really relevant sources. This new option to toggle between top tweets and all tweets at the very top of the search results on a mobile app UI makes it much easier for users to get the most relevant tweets related to their search.
  • Trending Timeline: The trending timeline feature, added to the Discover section, enables a user to see trends (including trending TV shows) as well as associated tweets and nearby events. This feature makes it much easier for the mobile user to assess the most prominent topics on Twitter and get info on local events, which, in the holiday season, are likely to include sales from local retailers.
  • Photo/Video Search Filter: Perhaps most interesting of all for retailers is the new filter to search for photos that allows users to view tweets with pictures or videos in a list or grid layout – a compelling option for retailers looking to generate excitement around specific products.

Now consider the new ad targeting functionality announced last week, which enables brands to segment out users by OS, OS version, device type, and connectivity type. These improvements offer up a range of opportunities to brands desperate to reach a highly mobile audience this holiday season, most of whom are likely to be showrooming and many of whom will probably skip the in-store experience altogether to shop online.

Three out of four Black Friday shoppers will be making their purchases online via desktop and mobile devices, according to Mobile Marketing Watch. An estimated 35 percent will shop mostly online, 28 percent mostly in-store, and 37 percent plan to do both.

It's beginning to look a lot like the most mobile shopping season yet, and Twitter's latest changes are placing it front and center for marketers to use its mobile features to best advantage. The mobile usability is much better, and the mobile ad targeting much more refined. So, knowing all this, what's a retailer to do?

How to Make Twitter and Mobile Work to Your Advantage This Holiday Season

We've established that shoppers are going to be more mobile than ever this holiday season and Twitter itself is offering us validation of this premise.

In a new study, the Black Friday Report recently released by Twitter and DB5, more than half of the respondents revealed themselves to be regular Twitter users and 7 out of 10 respondents stated that they would rely on the service to support their Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping activities.

Black Friday or Cyber Monday Shoppers

What's more, those surveyed reported themselves to be avid planners, with 72 percent researching their shopping actives a week in advance and 56 percent reporting that Twitter is one of the first places they will visit to do so.

With all this in mind, there are two mobile-specific tactics, which, combined with the aforementioned targeting and usability changes, should be top of mind for retailers this holiday season.

Promoted Tweets

The appeal of promoted tweets on mobile is obvious for brick-and-mortar retailers. You have a much higher chance of driving a mobile user into a local store. And, according to the aforementioned report from Twitter and DB5, 78 percent of respondents reported that they would act on a sale tweeted from a retailer by visiting the retailer's store. The same study cites that:

  • 64 percent have made a purchase as a result of Twitter.
  • 57 percent have been influenced by Twitter as to which stores to visit.

It's not to say that other mobile ad types like sponsored stories and promoted accounts and trends don't matter, but in the shopping onslaught of the holidays, the sheer simplicity of the promoted tweet, used to drive awareness of a sale or specific product, clearly has a unique value.

App Cards

While app cards aren't exactly ads – at least not yet – they are invaluable in encouraging users to download a retailer's app.

Given that the majority of consumers will be using mobile as a primary shopping tool, there's no better time of year to be promoting your app. Not to mention no better channel through which to do it.

For all the success of Google and Facebook's app install ad models, the data released in the Black Friday Report regarding shoppers' reliance on Twitter make it clear that this is the primary channel for retail brands looking to reach a highly mobile audience in the moment. Getting your app in their hands is likely to escalate the possibility that they will shop and buy from you.


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