By David Cohen
The research firm suggests treating the beleaguered platform like an emerging channel
A new report from Forrester, “Twitter Isn’t Canceled; It’s Downgraded,” stresses that Twitter is far more relevant to users than advertisers and provides suggestions on how marketers should treat the platform moving forward.
Forrester data reveals that 22% of online adults in the U.S. used Twitter weekly in 2022, well behind Facebook (63%) and Instagram (40%).
The company said in the introduction to its report, “Twitter ranks highly on the cultural relevancy scale but low on the advertiser priority list. It’s where news breaks, politicians debate, activists organize and niche communities meet. And despite Twitter users threatening to leave the platform, application downloads are up since Elon Musk took over. No other social media platform—not even Reddit, Mastodon or Hive—can replace Twitter for consumers.”
Principal analyst Kelsey Chickering delved further into the advertising side in a blog post, writing, “The advertising community has given Twitter more oxygen than it deserves since Elon Musk took over. The reality is that Twitter has never been a critical media channel in the overall media mix, comprising just 1.3% of 2022 digital ad spend based on Forrester’s 2022 Advertising Forecast, U.S. Why? The ad experience on Twitter has never quite caught up with other ‘legacy’ social media platforms such as Meta’s family of apps. According to media buyers and social media strategists who spoke with Forrester, Twitter doesn’t quite deliver on lower-funnel performance.”
Forrester said in the report that advertising executives it spoke with believe Twitter’s direct-response ad products pale in comparison to those from Meta when it comes to meeting lower-funnel media goals, and they only rely on Twitter for mid- to upper-funnel media goals like awareness and consideration.
Advertisers also told Forrester Twitter’s targeting and personalization capabilities are less mature than those of other social media platforms.
Forrester suggested that marketers treat Twitter as an emerging channel within the advertising maturity spectrum, breaking out that spectrum as follows:
- Meta: Ad formats for every part of the customer lifecycle and proven performance
- Pinterest: Original Pin formats still useful but finding its way in video and commerce
- Snap: Leader in augmented reality and advanced in providing creative resources to brands
- LinkedIn: Top channel to capture consumers when they’re in a business mindset
Test and learn:
- Reddit: Rising star in advertising capabilities and advanced in brand safety
- TikTok: Social media’s darling but hard to succeed without creator partnerships
- Twitter: Unevolved ad experience and growing brand safety concerns, but still offers a unique experience for live updates and news
The research firm added that marketers should consider the following questions when planning for the remainder of 2023:
- Will my brand consistently appear in a space that complies with our safety guidelines? Forrester noted that Twitter’s policy on brand safety and moderation is a moving target at best, suggesting that as these policies change, brands should evaluate them against their own overall digital media brand safety guidelines.
- To what degree is my target audience spending significant time on Twitter? Forrester said even if an advertiser’s target audience loved Twitter before, they may be shopping around, so brands should determine if their time on Twitter is growing or waning and whether they’ve transferred that time to other platforms.
- What share of social media spend has Twitter historically held on my media plan? If Twitter hasn’t taken up a large portion of a company’s media spend to date, the dollars are probably easily absorbed elsewhere.
- What material impact has Twitter had on our business results? Forrester believes advertisers should look at whether they have seen a dip in brand health metrics or sales after shifting their Twitter budget to other channels.
- Does Twitter deliver an ad or user experience that’s not available on other platforms? Forrester suggests keeping a pulse on Twitter’s changing ad experience and whether other channels can deliver on a brand’s goals and audience.
Chickering wrote in the blog post, “Advertisers such as Chevrolet and Chipotle paused their Twitter spend for fear of appearing beside extremist, racist and inflammatory content. The Washington Post found ads for over 40 advertisers on white nationalist Twitter pages recently reinstated by Musk. At the same time, not every major advertiser has decided that Twitter is unsafe. Amazon continues to run paid media on the platform. Musk also introduced a ‘flash sale’ in an attempt to lure lost advertisers back.”
She suggested that brands that are not comfortable with Twitter in its current state under Musk:
- Refrain from posting any brand content to Twitter. Direct social media teams’ efforts to other channels that meet brand safety requirements.
- Monitor and respond to customer-service-related questions. If customers are reaching out for help or have questions about products, continue responding in order to ensure a positive customer experience.
- Listen for relevant cultural trends or product feedback. As usage continues on the platform, use social listening tools to find out what trends are popping and how consumers are talking about your company’s category to inform your marketing strategy.
- Test other social media channels. Twitter has downshifted into a social media startup rather than an established platform. Roll your previously dedicated Twitter dollars into a pool of test dollars for channels including TikTok, Reddit and Snapchat.
Finally, Forrester shared the reasons cited in a survey last November of 101 adults in the U.S. who stopped using Twitter or planned to do so in the next month:
- 31% found content on the platform to be too hateful
- 29% said there were too many bots or fake accounts
- 28% found content on the platform to be too political
- 21% didn’t like the amount of misinformation being spread
- 21% thought the platform’s moderation process was too strict
- 18% felt they needed to stop for their mental health
- 17% don’t support Musk as Twitter’s new owner and CEO
Feature Image Credit: tanyamcclure/iStock
By David Cohen
David Cohen is editor of Adweek’s Social Pro Daily.