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Dos and don'ts of Twitter brand pages

By Guy Redwood

January 12, 2012 | 3 min read

Brand pages on Twitter was always likely to cause something of a stir. For some, it is another unwelcome symptom of the creeping commerciality infecting the last bastion of social networking purity. For others, namely businesses, a long-awaited and logical way to feature brands on Twitter; a way to get messages across through logo headers, promoted tweets and video that brings it in line with the successful brand pages on Facebook and Google+.

Twitter launched a selected list of twenty one brand pages in December. Most of the international companies were already distributing commercial content via Twitter, but the brand page provided a point of difference between corporate and personal accounts. The question was how would each brand rate in terms of new, interesting, compelling and provocative content to keep audience engagement high? What kind of layout and content would work best?

Using innovative eyetracking technology, the consumer research and usability experts at SimpleUsability have found out.

The team observed test users looking at the layouts and features of four of these new Twitter brand pages, Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Staples and HP. By recording eye movements and actions online, they could assess usability and see exactly what elements each user was drawn to, distracted by and engaged with. Importantly, SimpleUsability then worked with the subjects to try and understand the decisions they took, replaying their activity to users, showing where and what they looked at and asking appropriate questions to determine their behaviour and choices.

The snapshot offered by the briefing paper makes for interesting reading, especially to any brand owners out there with designs on utilising Twitter to push their presence. Here are some highlights:

• Header images have to work hard. They need to communicate how users can interact. HP, for example, rated well as it directed users to a promoted tweet from their branded header. Similarly, Staples featuring of a competition in its header was also a big draw, whereas the pure ‘dead-end’ advertising of McDonald’s Big Mac header image caused abandonment.

• Promoted tweets should be logical and have embedded visuals/video. Staples linked the header and promoted tweet, creating logical user journeys which proved popular. McDonalds colourful shot caught the attention, but Coca-Cola’s embedding of video instantly engaged the user and allowed them to feel they were getting involved with the page immediately.

• Transparency in tweets is important. The different types of tweets on a page showcase the level of interactivity between company and user. HP’s page even features complaints, a popular move as it gave the feeling of an honest and responsive company that wasn’t ‘staging’ dry brand messages.

Read the briefing paper in full here.


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