Forrester advises advertisers to put Twitter on Back Burner

Is Twitter still the right platform for advertisers? Twitter has been in the news lately for changes that have happened within the organisation as well as in its user policies. More recently, Musk even decided to ask Twitter users whether he should resign and it seems he didn’t quite like the answer. Journalists reporting on the whims of Mr Elon Musk are having good fun but what should advertisers do? Should they put Twitter on hold? To find out I interviewed Kelsey Chickering, Principal Analyst – CMO Practice at Forrester on how these changes are likely to impact brands and B2B marketers. Kelsey shed some light on where the platform is headed and what marketers should do. And her advice is clear: advertisers should put Twitter on the back-burner, both for ads and word of mouth. Let that sink in! Elon.

Forrester Advises Brands to Put Twitter on the Back-Burner

Twitter strategy
Is Twitter still the proper platform for advertisers? Forrester’s Chickering’s answer to that question is a resounding no. Let that sink in, Elon!

Twitter for advertisers: should brands pay attention to Twitter’s new boss’s whims?

Kelsey Chickering: From the advertiser’s perspective, you have to pay attention to Elon’s whims, because at this point these are directing the future of Twitter, the way moderation is happening, and the new tools that are popping up.

It’s a sound decision to pause your Twitter dollars for most advertisers as Elon Musks’s whims can change on a dime.

They should keep a pulse check on what Musk is tweeting and indicating about the future of Twitter, while taking a conservative approach to spending on it.

We don’t know the future, so let’s wait and see. I wouldn’t say take Twitter off your list forever. But it’s a sound idea to stop spending on it for the moment given the uncertainty associated with the platform. It’s proven in the last several weeks that it’s not really the safest place for brands to be.

The Future of Twitter for Advertisers

Twitter for advertisers
Should advertisers still dish out their advertising dollars for Twitter visibility? Our once favourite blue bird is crying its heart out.

Consumers are worried about the future of Twitter and what it might become. Will it be a place where they want to spend time, or a place that gets overrun by misinformation and disinformation?

However, I think from an advertiser’s perspective, most brands don’t really need Twitter to meet their business goals in terms of advertising.

It’s not as big of a concern since you can put your ad dollars where you can get mid to upper funnel results. Many brands weren’t using Twitter for lower funnel direct response activities. I reckon there’s minimal impact to your bottom line to move your ad spend elsewhere. There are, of course, exceptions to it.

Twitter for advertisers
“Advertisers can find new avenues,” Forrester’s analyst warns

Thus, for advertisers, they can find new avenues. For consumers, it’s a little different because Twitter is offering something that no one else is offering them right now.

It is a place where people go to find information, get real-time updates, and see the news as it’s happening. That’s something you can’t necessarily find anywhere else at this point.

Kelsey Chickering
Kelsey Chickering kindly answered our questions – photo by Valerie Sarron

Twitter for marketers is more of a use case than a must-have. There are certain use cases like customer service where Twitter becomes important and is a channel you manage. It might mean that you have to find new vehicles to handle customer service.

Influencers and Twitter

Twitter has certainly been a platform for the media and news reporting side. It’s a place where you can get seen and heard. All that said, there are new platforms popping up. TikTok, for example, is creator-born and a lot of creators are flocking to it. You might see more people on the news side spend time on it as well.

Alternative Platforms for Twitter Advertisers and Marketers

Two channels I believe are viable places for both creators and friends: TikTok and Reddit. Reddit is similar to Twitter where you can find very niche audiences. There are conversations about different and specific topics, a provision which Twitter had bestowed upon many communities. Major difference though is that Twitter is more real time and events-based.

Then we have Bluesky by Jack Dorsey. It’s quite unclear though what Bluesky actually is, what it will be and whether it would be a replacement for Twitter. I haven’t yet seen anything that indicates if it would be a replacement. However, this landscape is ripe for a new platform that has similar functionality to Twitter with the safety and content moderation it offers.

Verified Status or Paid Status

welcome screen
Welcome or Goodbye to Twitter advertisers? Whoever understands the current status of his or her verified account wins a free Twitter bird.

Having a verified account on Twitter could actually be a good thing. It would be helpful for people to understand whether content is coming from a real person or a fake account.

But unfortunately, the recent changes have made it easier for impersonators to get verified. So it had a bit of an inverse impact.

All of the information that I’ve seen, it seems to be a back and forth from Twitter trying to figure out the right balance, while realising that there’s a problem if it’s accessible for everybody.

Regrettably, verification meant impersonation instead of true verification, which implies it was hard to put more trust in information from such accounts.

Current landscape and future of social media

We are at a turning point for Meta. Suffice to say, social media advertising has struggled in the last year with Apple’s privacy changes.

If you look at any report from Meta or in the more recent Forrester’s Ad forecasts that were released this November, social media advertising will decelerate to its slowest pace, rising only 7.4% this year.

Hence, there is a slowdown in spending that we’re projecting over 2023.

However, agency executives and brands are still seeing social media maintained over a year. They’re deliberating on how to continue maintaining those budgets, as the budget deployment avenues are changing.

Meta is a channel that delivers on many different aspects of customer lifecycle, everything from discovering a new product all the way through to managing conversations with your current customers. It has certainly gained the lion’s share of media because on the lower funnel side, it’s actually proven very efficient for advertisers. It’s a way for them to get lower funnel media for a good price.

New platforms emerge and you see consumers shift into new places like TikTok, for instance. We are beginning to see brands figure out how to shift their dollars into new modern spaces that people are spending time on. It presents a whole new set of challenges, especially from content creation perspective. In the foreseeable future, you’re going to see shifts out of legacy platforms like Meta into emerging ones like TikTok, and integrators that help you create the content for those platforms.

Content Creation: Brands Versus Influencers

We’re starting to see a trend toward brands and agencies hiring creators to make content for organic channels. That’s not just to gain influence from their followers, but also to make content for them to publish. I reckon they’re realising that when you enter a platform like TikTok, you can’t use the same old strategy. Their content teams probably don’t fully understand how to make compelling content for that platform. So they’re hiring creators and outside resources to either make their content or advise on it.

Brands going back to work on their own content and channels

You need to have your house in order while you’re advertising.

Your owned properties are incredibly important because consumers are seamlessly moving from social media platforms to your website, back to something else, and on to the blog content you might create.

It is natural and seamless for consumers at this point. So every touch point that you expect a consumer to have with you should reflect your brand and values. It should reflect your look and feel, and the experience that you want people to have with you. Regardless of social media, it’s crucial for brands to get their house in order and ensure that their own presence is good for consumers.

What’s in Store for Twitter Advertisers and Consumers

Verified account
The Twitter verified account status saga was enough to get the entire planet completely confused over what should or shouldn’t be done. It sued to state that your verified account was worth bloody nothing and that it was just a legacy verified badge granted to someone who used to be known. It now points out that “this account is verified because it’s notable in government, news, entertainment, or another designated category”. Advertisers are now granted a yellow “This account is verified because it’s an official business on Twitter” badge. Heck! Isn’t all that utterly confusing. I will not make any comments on Musk’s management capabilities.

Wait for a Few Months Forrester Analyst Says

In the next several months, things will pave way for some clarity. You might see that consumers double down on Twitter and realise they can’t go anywhere else and this is where they love to spend time.

Or there might be an exodus from the platform if it becomes a place that has a lot of unsavoury content or content that you don’t want to keep. Any of those two scenarios may happen with consumers, but I don’t see brands going back to Twitter in the next two quarters.

This is based on the uncertainty with the platform combined with brands tightening their belts.

Right now, we’re in a period of economic uncertainty where brands aren’t flushed with cash to spend on advertising.

So they need to make hard choices about where to show up. The way the platform has manifested itself recently makes it a pretty easy choice for brands to decide where to cut or put money elsewhere.

Organic Content on Twitter

If you think the platform is not suitable for your ad dollars, it’s not suitable for your content at all. Removing your content from a platform because you feel it’s not safe, translates into your organic presence as well.

Forbes showed that the result of Musk’s new governance is pretty clear. It stressed a 50% drop in advertising volume in November 2022 alone. Kelsey’s advice must have been followed. For us on the B2B marketing side, it might be high time we start exploring other platforms. Not forgetting to spruce up our digital assets.

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