Companies may have just one chance to convert a Twitter brand page visitor to a follower and need to make best use of the new page features, according to a recently released eye tracking study. Brand page features include a large header banner and the ability to pin a select tweet to the top of the feed, which autoexpands to display embedded media.
Currently available to a handful of select advertisers, Twitter’s enhanced profile pages launched in early December.
Search Engine Watch spoke with SimpleUsability’s founder Guy Redwood about their Twitter Brand Pages: A first look at usability eye tracking study and best practices for marketers in anticipation of a wider release. We also spoke with Eric Hadley, general manager of worldwide marketing for Bing and MSN and Michael Donnelly, director of worldwide interactive marketing at Coca-Cola, about their experience with Twitter’s new enhanced profile pages and offered tips for marketers looking forward to the program’s expansion.
Imagery Draws Attention First But Must Work Hard to Engage
Not surprisingly, users’ eyes were first drawn to imagery on the page, usually in the promoted tweet pinned at the top. The top tweet on the @McDonald’s page attracted attention, but failed to engage users as they felt the large image of a Big Mac was too promotional. According to one user, “There’s nothing really that interests me about it.”
@HP featured a picture of a dog looking at product in their pinned tweet, which attracted far more attention.
@Bing uses their real estate to showcase the people behind their brand, with a facepile background image complementing a profile description that lets users know which Twitter handles are tweeting for the company. They’re pleased with the additional brand page features.
“The enhanced profile elements like the banner and pinned tweet let us showcase our product and how visual Bing is through additional images and videos on our page, which all brands should use to their advantage,” Hadley said.
Unclickable Banner Can Be Confusing to Users
On the @Staples page, where the top tweet was text only, the header banner attracted first looks by users. This caused some confusion, as brand page header banners aren’t clickable; users tried to click a URL in the image and were annoyed that they couldn’t click through for further information. They lost interest, not realizing the related link was in the tweet Staples had pinned to the top. HP remedied this with an arrow in the header banner pointing down towards the top tweet, indicating users should look there for more.
“We were surprised to observe users following instruction from the banner to read tweets,” Redwood said. “Users couldn’t directly click on the banner so they needed direction and encouragement as to what they should do next.”
Autoexpanding Pinned Tweet a Good Showcase for Video
Taking advantage of the autoexpanding video box, @CocaCola pinned a one-minute video to the top of their feed, which drew users’ eyes there. The majority chose to watch it and most watched to the end. Users commented that they liked having something to interact with on the page. Said one test subject, “I looked at the advert… that was very good; you have more interactive things [on the page].”
“The pinned tweet and graphical banner add valuable marketing real estate for users to engage more with brand supported content,” Donnelly said. “Twitter is on a tear, we expect them to continue to partner with brands even more to have locally relevant, language specific real-time marketing conversations that will increase both brand and Twitter usage exponentially.”
Brand Page Tweet Stream Influences User Perception of the Company
Users looked down the tweet stream to gauge the brand’s level of responsiveness. During the study, HP’s brand page displayed a variety of tweets including new tweets, retweets, and user mentions to address questions and complaints. Test subjects reported they felt HP was being honest and genuinely interacted with followers. One participant said, “I noticed they were answering tweets from people who had technical issues. I’ve got a HP product myself so that appealed to me.”
Hadley explained the importance of customer service as well as marketing training for staff handling Bing’s corporate Twitter account:
We have built a team internally that has grown up with social media. They’ve lived it and breathed it for years. Many of our team members are similar to the audience we are building for Bing – they spend a ton of time online using social media, are part of GenY, and do a variety of interesting things in addition to working at Microsoft. The team is balanced with senior marketing leadership that can apply sound marketing principles around brand building, analytics and more to the growing social media realm. We also work very closely with Mr. Youth, our social media agency, who are experts in the field. All of our team is deeply trained with our Bing brand principles – which has the customer at the center.
Coca-Cola also strives to interact and engage users.
“Our social business and customer service teams support 24/7, multi-lingual engagement for all of our Twitter handles,” Donnelly said. “This framework allows Coca-Cola to respond to all relevant inquires quickly, usually within just a few minutes.”
Brands Experiencing Growth; Looking Forward to New Features
Bing told us they had about two weeks lead time to prepare their page design and strategy prior to the new brand page launch. Coca-Cola’s Donnelly notes that, “Twitter is a close and valued partner that really listens to brands, so while detailed lead times were short, we had been working with them on the some of the concepts for a few weeks.”
“Profile pages are new and were not rolled out everywhere all at once, so many users are just being introduced to this new interface,” Donnelly told us. “We are excited about the changes and expect the Twitter team to use valuable user feedback to provide continuous improvements as they have so well since launch.”
Bing is impressed with their Twitter stats, especially since launching their brand page.
“We are very pleased with the growth of our Twitter handle – our Twitter base has grown nearly 50 percent in the last six months,” Hadley said. “We’re seeing significant increases in engagement as well – with re-tweets increasing 28% last month alone.”
About the Twitter Brand Page Eye Tracking Study
SimpleUsability’s eye tracking study employed the retrospective review methodology, a process that addresses the problematic issue of asking users to think aloud while performing the test, which increases the subject’s workload and can increase the number of failed tasks. Instead, the eye tracking is played back after testing and users verbalize what they were thinking at that time.
Six users participated in the study. Redwood explains the small sample size is typical, as they employ the five subjects (plus one for safety) recommended by usability expert Jakob Nielsen, who found that just five users accurately identify 85 percent of usability issues.