Twitter did something at the end of 2015 that it’s never done before. It stopped growing. Earlier this year the company reported that in the three months to December it had 320 million active users – exactly the same number as in the previous quarter. As the company searches for ways to drive growth once more, it may be pinning its hopes on innovations such as Periscope, its video-streaming app.
“Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s CEO, used the word ‘video’ 58 times and ‘live’ 46 times in an address this February, illustrating the importance being placed on the technology after Facebook and Snapchat achieved record numbers through video,” says Mark Flanagan, senior partner for content and digital strategy at Portland, the communications firm, and former head of strategic and digital communications at Downing Street.
While video apps may resonate with consumers on a social media level, how well do they work for businesses? According to Joel Windels, vice president of inbound marketing at Brandwatch, a social media monitoring company, it depends on the platform, the brand or product and the audience it is trying to reach. “Although diversifying their use of social media is a wise choice for brands, not every platform should be folded into integrated marketing strategies,” he says. “Marketers have a responsibility to understand their audience. Unless their customers are using the likes of Periscope or Meerkat, a live-streaming app, there is no reason to have a marketing strategy for those platforms. Brands that are set to benefit will be those that have lots of stories best told via imagery or video.”
Katie Cairns, senior digital marketing manager at Lewis Pulse, a digital marketing agency, says brands need to be careful not to jump on the bandwagon each time a new social media platform appears. “Publishers and brands alike are clamouring to ‘figure out Snapchat’ and make it work for them. But businesses need to approach all new platforms with caution and avoid the temptation of signing up purely to be seen to ‘innovate’,” she says.