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Leader Insights | Social Strategies with Twitter’s David Wilding

Michael Behr

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Twitter social media David Wilding

Twitter UK’s Director of Planning shares tips to help startups weave the social media platform into their marketing strategies.

For most companies, social media forms an integral part of their marketing strategies. Active social media users now account for just shy of four billion people, over half the world’s population.

Furthermore, the Covid-19 pandemic has driven up social media usage by around 43%, reversing a moderate decline at the start of the year. As the world increasingly pivots to digital, reaching lucrative online audiences is more important than ever.

To help startups understand the place of social media in a digital marketing strategy, Twitter UK Director of Planning David Wilding will be speaking at Startup Summit 2020 on the 28th of October. With the fallout from the coronavirus crisis having hit so many companies, Wilding will touch on some of the trends of the past year and how companies can use Twitter to both reach and understand audiences.

Talking Trends

Having started at Twitter in 2014, Wilding’s role is to advise people, brands, and organisations how to best utilise his company’s platform as part of their marketing and communication strategies.

“It’s a really broad role which is something I absolutely love about it,” he says.

“Well before I joined Twitter, I was fascinated by it and loved using it.”

As a passionate Twitter user at the heart of the company, Wilding has a unique perspective on how to use the platform effectively. His talk will look at how social media is not simply about pushing a message on an audience – it provides a highly effective channel for audience feedback and a way to understand important issues and trends.

“I’ll be following my own advice and listening first (through Twitter initially of course) to tailor what I’ll be talking about accordingly. I always find it’s generally helpful to give practical advice and case studies as well as talking about broader trends, so I’ll try to do both.”

With an ample supply of insights from Twitter’s 330 million users, Wilding has a front row seat on the year’s biggest trends.

“Unfortunately, the shadow of Covid looms over everything this year of course. That’s a very real issue for us all and felt especially hard by many startups, although we’ve seen many organisations and companies adapting their approach successfully and almost all of us having digital transformation forced upon us.

“At Twitter, we’ve identified seven trends that we’ve seen accelerate or emerge since lockdown from Twitter conversation data for a project called ‘History in the Tweeting’ and I’ll be sharing a very top line summary of that in the session too.”

Social Media Strategy

For all organisations and marketing campaigns, understanding an audience is key. That means taking time to get to know who a platform’s average user is and why they use it. Sometimes, it is important to forget what you thought you know.

“I think the biggest misconception is really about the type of person who uses Twitter,” Wilding asserts. “There is still a perception from some people who don’t use Twitter often that it’s used to self-obsessively tell the world what you’re doing 24 hours a day.

“But the reality is that people who use Twitter are doing so because Twitter is ‘what’s happening’ and they want to know about, and they care about, what’s happening in the world. In the vast majority of cases, they’re interested, knowledgeable, very generous with their thoughts and quick to support each other.”

It is this level of engagement that sets Twitter apart from other platforms. It allows for the relationship between organisations and audience to be two way, disseminating messages and receiving feedback.

“Twitter isn’t ‘look at me,’ it’s ‘look at this’. That’s a really important distinction and one that has been important for us in thinking about how we develop Twitter over recent years.”

Given the short lifespan of a Tweet, it makes the platform well designed as a vehicle for breaking news and announcements. However, it also means that the platform requires consistent and regular engagement, to ensure that messages are not lost in fast-moving timelines.

Think First, Tweet Later

Twitter, and by extension social media in general, is not a silver bullet marketing tool – it must form part of a coherent strategy. A company needs to know why it is using Twitter, who it is trying to reach and what they are trying to achieve.

“Start with your strategy first,” Wilding says. “But honestly, don’t worry about doing Twitter wrong – focus on doing Twitter in the way that works for you and aligns with your objectives. That’s the single most important thing.

“Once you know the ‘why’ and what you’re hoping you can achieve from Twitter, only then start to think about the tactics. There are so many different ways to use Twitter (which is one of the things that makes it so great) but you need that strategic bedrock before you get stuck in.

“Then take the opportunity to listen – in a sense Twitter is the world’s biggest focus group and simply searching for words or a combination of words can lead to a treasure chest of fascinating things.

Recommended

With a strategy in hand, Wilding shared some of tips on how to make the most of Twitter.

“I always advise people to follow well on Twitter too – find the people who are interesting and interested and take advantage of the fact you’re not limited on Twitter to an existing network of people you know.

“Take that as an opportunity to follow a diverse range of people who you can learn from and – if appropriate – connect with.”

When it comes to writing Tweets, Wilding says he normally advises everyone, people and organisations, to write what they like to read.

“In terms of what those Tweets physically look like, the best bet is to experiment with different formats – there are so many ways to get your message across beyond just text. Try videos, images, gifs, polls etc if appropriate for you. See what feels right and best gets your message across.

Finally, Wilding warned not to fall into the typical social media trap of focusing too much on followers and likes. What is important is the part Tweets play in the overall strategy.

“You can learn so much on Twitter just by listening. There is far more nuance, subtlety and expertise on Twitter than it’s often given credit for. I’ve learned so much from Twitter over the years.”

David Wilding will be speaking at Startup Summit 2020 on the 28th of October.

Michael Behr

Senior Staff Writer

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