Applications of Twitter

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Twitter is an online social networking service available to users through any website interface, or mobile device app. Registered users can send and share 140-character messages also called “tweets”, while unregistered users are only able to view them. Its intended use is for daily chatter, and sharing information between users acting as a form of micro-blogging. Founded by Jack Dorsey, Evan Williams, Biz Stone, and Noah Glass, Twitter launched in July 2006. The service has rapidly gained worldwide popularity and as of March 2016, Twitter has more than 310 million monthly active users.


Verified accounts allow users to formally recognize that an account belongs to an actual person or organization. The aim is to make it easier for users to find high-quality accounts and connect with a broader audience. As of July 2016, Twitter created an online application process for accounts to receive their verification status. Accounts must show that they are determined to be of public interest along with several other qualifications in order to obtain the blue badge icon.


There are few misconceptions about Twitter that have held potential users back from adopting the service. A large misconception is that 140-characters is not enough for any tweet to be of substance. The purpose behind the limit is to maintain a micro-blogging concept and ensure that each tweet gets to the point and does not require users to sift through pages like they would have to in blog posts. Users are also able to tweet at a much higher frequency without the worry of spamming their followers. Rather the construction of twitter allows for multiple tweets to be a common occurrence. Another misconception is that there is no conversation, rather tweets are sent out to users and nothing results from them. However, through the introduction of the hashtag in 2007, users can now find like-minded tweets and discuss their thoughts and opinion with others. By using the hashtag, users can sift through billions of tweets to find similar topics, showcasing the true power of Twitter. Public profiles allow users to view, comment, and share tweets with their followers and anyone else within the Twittersphere. Even if a user only has few followers this allows them to interact and engage with several million users. Unlike its competitors, Twitter allows for conversation between two unknown parties to be much easier.


Twitter has faced several challenges evident from the time of its birth that remain ongoing. They have tackled these issues by various means but continue to face hardship. Hate Twitter campaigns to be an advocate of free expression and has been working to reduce the amount of harassment and abuse that takes place on its service. However, due to the ease at which users can remain anonymous or create pseudonyms they have been unable to truly combat this problem. With the daily volume of tweets, screening each individual tweet is far too difficult and could not be maintained.


Due to the rise in social media, competition is always an ongoing threat. A large challenge for Twitter has been in ensuring that much of its functionality not be able to be created elsewhere. With Facebook status updates and daily snapchat stories, there are various other forms of microblogging available on other social media services. Another reason for challenges facing their stock prices is that it is unclear how many accounts belong to actual people. Due to this reason, it is not entirely determinable how many actual people Twitter is engaging daily.


Due to the fast paced nature of Twitter, any hacking occurrence can prove to be much more damaging than on other platforms. With the super-fast paced nature of tweets, a message can spread to thousands of people within minutes. It can be difficult to determine just how many people were reached which means damage can prove to be that much more difficult. Follow up tweets after a hacking may not reach the exact same audience which means that companies and public figures must be vigilant to ensure their reputation remains intact.

New User Engagement

Joining Twitter introduces a lot of challenges as a new user and these factors have prevented a lot of people from adopting this service or have resulted in users abandoning their accounts. There is a “secret handshake” of rules and conventions that users must adopt in order to understand what is happening. The concept of a tweet can be particularly difficult to grasp, coupled with the fast-paced nature and tremendous hate that can occur these factors can discourage new users. Another reason that user engagement has been a struggle for Twitter is because it is much more difficult to gain a large following. Its competitor, Instagram is a visual application which has resulted in viral stars being born at much higher rates. The average Twitter account has 61 followers which makes users feel as if they are not being heard.

Adjacent Applications of Twitter

Example Twitter Moments page

Twitter Moments

Twitter introduced Twitter Moments in order to help organize and capture the biggest stories and trends that exist in the world. This allows users see the complete story of these events through the top tweets that are compiled with the best pictures, highlights and headlines. This could be from yesterday's biggest meme to tomorrow's big game. Pretty much, it gets you in the loop about stories that matter to each user. This allows users to actually follow an event rather than certain accounts to follow a story.


Vine is a video-sharing application owned by Twitter that allows users to post up to 6 second videos in a continuous loop. This allows businesses to utilize micro-video to provide consumers with concise content and information. There are 5 main uses of Vine for businesses:

  • Offer exclusive content to followers on Vine
  • Create teasers for upcoming product launches and news
  • Create mini-tutorials (Quick How-To Videos)
  • Display shortened versions of ads
  • Show relevant information or news from the business or industry


Periscope is a video streaming service available on Twitter that creates a conversation around a video that is being broadcasted. It allows videos to be streamed or seen after the stream is completed. Users utilize this technology to stream Q&As with their followers, broadcast information, or show a live event. Twitter now has an agreement with the NFL in place to stream 10 games for this upcoming season, a deal that was worth over $10 million US.

Twitter Marketing Efforts

Ad Targeting

Twitter offers a lot of different techniques to allow businesses to connect with relevant audiences. Therefore, businesses can reach a niche group or connect with users around the world through the variety of targeting options:

  • Language Targeting: Target individuals who understand certain languages (Best for campaigns that are in specific languages)
  • Gender Targeting: Target messages toward males or females.
  • Interest Targeting: Target marketing campaigns toward users whose interests broadly align with the business.
  • Follower Targeting: Target the followers of relevant accounts, to reach users who are likely to be interest in the content of a certain business.
  • Device Targeting: Target users based on the specific mobile device they use to access Twitter.
  • Behaviour Targeting: Reach high-intent audiences on Twitter based on shopping and spending partners.
  • Tailored Audiences Targeting: Tailored audiences uses your own CRM lists to reach specific groups of users on Twitter. (e.g. Attendees of a convention)
  • Keyword Targeting: Act on signals of intent by delivering timely messages to users based on what they’ve recently Tweeted or engaged with in Tweets.
  • Geography Targeting: Connect with a global audience or narrow the reach of your campaign to a specific country, region or even town.

All these tools mentioned above can be used to advertise on Twitter. Using these robust targeting capabilities assist business in their marketing efforts to get their businesses and their content in front of the right audience.

Promoted Products

If a business had a goal to drive a particular action via Twitter, Promoted Accounts and Promoted Tweets are a great place to begin promoting engaging content that includes a call to action to users. Twitter’s platform users a variety of signals to determine which Promoted Tweets are relevant to users, including what a user chooses to follow, how they interact with a Tweet, and what they retweet.

Promoted Accounts on Twitter

Promoted Accounts

A Promoted Account is a Twitter account that is marketed across the timelines of relevant users who are more likely to follow due to their interests and who they follow at the time. These accounts would have to pay to receive this service and get charged for actual results, as in how many follows are occurring because of the advertising service. It appears on a user’s account under the “Who To Follow” section. They are also labelled as Promoted so users would know.

Promoted Tweets

Promoted Tweets are ordinary Tweets purchased by advertisers who want to reach a wider group of users or to spark engagement from their existing followers. Promoted Tweets are clearly labeled as Promoted when an advertiser is paying for their placement on Twitter. It reaches more people who potentially could be interested in your business. This is a good selection for businesses who want to expand the reach of content, connect with influencers and brand advocates, and promoting awareness around things like events and product launches.

Promoted Tweets

Industry Examples

Today, businesses and interaction with customers are changing continuously. As new technologies are coming, businesses are trying to integrate those in their operations to somehow improve their business performances. Twitter is also one of the social media platform that businesses are using for various purposes. Seeing that change in business and twitter’s increasing uses in business community, twitter offered various services to businesses which are discussed below:

  • Now businesses can discover what is happening right now in business world. Twitter gives business access to what’s happening in industry, community, and -around the world. Business can use Twitter search to listen to the relevant conversations that are happening and jump in where value can be added.
  • Business can raise their brand awareness and increase the impact of their marketing by using twitter to regularly communicate with their followers. Moreover, business can extend reach even further with Twitter Ads.
  • Business can provide extensive customer service on twitter because customers talk about their products on twitter. It’s a very helpful platform to answer customers’ queries through tweets and develop a good business reputation and strong relationships with customers.
  • Business can connect with potential customers, brand advocates and influencers. Twitter allows business to follow and interact with customers and build stronger network. Business owners can develop connections with influencers and industry experts to raise the profile of business.

As has been stated throughout this paper, Twitter has become a tool where people or groups connect with their passions, express their opinions and connect with the rest of the world through the millions if Twitter users. Following are the examples of few businesses with discussion about how they used Twitter to help achieve their objectives. To further help understand how Businesses can tap in to Twitter to achieve their objectives through reaching and connecting to their target market.


This company provides a closed loop solution that helps B2B marketers and digital marketing agencies generate high quality inbound leads, nurture businesses and measure marketing campaign impact.

Company’s challenge was that its business leaders wanted a channel that would position the company as a B2B though leader and increase awareness of its products to generate leads.

They targeted followers with Promoted Tweets in timeliness to prominently showcase new content and special offers. Its Tweets included links and string calls to action for followers to download free marketing assessments or begin a free trial.

The company increased awareness with Promoted Tweets targeted to search results for keywords like ‘SEO,’ ‘lead generation’ and ‘inbound marketing’ that aligned with its product and expertise.

To maintain its reputation as an inbound marketing thought leader, @optify promoted Tweets to the timelines of users similar to its followers and included links to educational materials including best practices, guides and case studies.

@optify also nurtured existing prospects with @mentions of users who had expressed interest in its offers through previous content downloads and thought leadership studies.

@optify’s Promoted Tweets campaign generated substantial gains in leads and traffic referrals to the company website. 770% increase was recorded in Twitter-generated leads, 600% increase was recorded in Twitter referral traffic and YoY 6% conversion rate via Twitter was noticed.


Other company was bonobos that wanted to quickly make room for its autumn collection and recruit new customers at the same time. The company receives roughly 25% of its customer service enquiries from social channels and its “customer service ninjas” respond within the hour. @Bonobos decided to capitalise on its strong social following and offer spring / summer washed chinos at a big discount. It turned to Twitter to help with the sale. @Bonobos held a “Twixclusive,” a 24-hour sale exclusively on Twitter. With minimal effort and low cost, the company drummed up anticipation by teasing the sale with Tweets for a couple of days in advance.

On the day of the sale, @Bonobos used Promoted Tweets in timelines to announce an exclusive Twitter deal for $49 chinos. The deal was only available through Twitter and not advertised anywhere else. It encouraged customers to spread the word to unlock the deal. After a total of 49 Retweets, the sale went live. With more than 80 Retweets in eight minutes, the deal unlocked almost immediately. @Bonobos’ followers were happy and so were the new @Bonobos customers who learned about the deal through Retweets. The strategy netted nearly 100 first-time purchasers, 1,200% ROI and it proved to be 13x more cost-effective than @Bonobos’s other marketing efforts. y/y[1].

Northumbria University

Northumbria University Tweet

The first example is from the education industry, about how a university increased student applications with the help of twitter. Northumbria University, in the northern English city of Newcastle wanted to recruit higher applicants by raising brand awareness among potential students in the UK. To achieve this, they ran a website clicks or conversion campaign, with Website Cards designed to drive application.

The University targeted upcoming college students and potential mature students in UK. They tested variation of their messages on Twitter through number of images and kept track of what was working and then update the campaign based on what was working. Following is an image of website card they used:

The university found these Web cards extremely appealing and helpful as Paul Taylor, Digital Marketing Coordinator, Northumbria University stated "We find Website Cards particularly effective, because you can put a visual and a strong call to action along with the link, and you can include some extra text on the card."

University further used the Tailored Audience tool in Twitter Ads. They uploaded their potential audience list fro their CRM database in Twitter Ads dashboard and then targeted them. They also use twitter tags to capture when Twitter users visit their website. This helped them targer the audience who could be potential applicants and to extent track them when they visited their website. They further engaged students running a selfie competition which had students uploading their selfies featuring University’s hoddies and used these images on the Website Cards, as part of the campaign.

This whole campaign brought a great success as number of Applicants increased in the following year considerably and cost per engagement was 50% below than the original target cost set for the campaign.


UNTUCKit Tweet

Retail companies has been using social media to large extent in order to achieve success and Twitter understandably is a big part of it. One such company is UNTUCKit, a New York- based retail company that sell shirts designed to worn untucked. The team wanted to row the brand awareness and increase online sales. The big objective for the team was to increase sales while meeting the cost-per-acquisition (CPA) goals. To achieve they wanted their target audience (US men and women aged between 25 – 60) to the UNTUCKit website by deciding to run website clicks or conversion campaign with Twitter Ads.

The team used ad images like the above one from their recent campaign to showcase their signature shirts. With the tweet copy calling out noteworthy press mentions and recommendations and also highlighting well-known associations like using GQ’s name in the image above to help get audience’s attention and add level of credibility.

They further used evergreen and season specific campaigns for special days such as Christmas and Valentine’s day. This holiday campaign allowed them to tap in to the market of gift purchase in these seasons.

Furthermore, the big part of the campaign was that they used the code called a website tag on their site, the team was able to track site visits and conversion. This also allowed them to keep track of people who visited their website and then target these people with target ads, which helped in boosting site traffic and purchases.

This campaign was hugely successful as they kept their cost per acquisition goal which was 12% lower than what they set out for.

Big Data

The power of Twitter Data

Big data is the use of LOTS of data, and with Twitter there is exactly that. Twitter is essentially a mass firehose of data that is being produced by all the 310 million users simply telling their followers what’s on their mind. This has immense power when it comes to understanding what everyone is talking about. Twitter has doubled down on its efforts to use big data as a source of business revenue. One thing that has been found with twitter data (read: Tweets) is that it is unsolicited information coming from product users. This feedback was not requested by companies, but rather voluntarily provided by users.

Big data scientist was the “Sexiest Job of the 21st Century” [1], and this has created a special twitter/data scientist course at UC Berkeley [2]. This course focuses on the tools that are used for data science, such as Pig and Hadoop that are both developed by Apache.

Twitter has increased their capabilities with regards to using Twitter data. They recently acquired multiple companies using the twitter API, for more control over the data licensing capabilities of the twitter platform. 90% of Twitter’s revenue comes from advertising, but the data licensing portion is increasing by 48% y/y[3]. Twitter’s total revenue is growing, and this is at the same time as decreasing user engagement. You would think that these metrics would follow the same trend, and so there must be some underlying strategy that is being employed by Twitter. The users that are still engaged are being more effectively monetized for advertizing and big data.

The Birth of Gnip

Gnip started as a project to learn how children learn language, and ended up as a knowledge network between twitter and public media. Cameras were set up in the lead researcher's home, where they would watch and listen for the vocalization and the position of his son. Thousands of hours of video and audio were captured to track language learning. They then analyzed the thousands of hour of video, where they tracked the position of his son, and what words were used where in the house. And they captured every use of every word that was said in the house. They tracked how the point where a child learns a new word is matched with a reduction in complexity of use of that word by the adults in the household. And while this isn’t about twitter at all, one of the lead researchers had one large insight: that what they were doing with microphones and cameras in living rooms, can be emulated with Twitter and television signals.

[Video shows how GNIP uses all the cable signals in the US, combined with Twitter Data to create a map of who is talking about what, and how much. It then looks at users, and pieces of content to see how users are connected to content, and what content provokes users to post comments.]

Many business decisions are made much easier with the use of Twitter data.

“Imagine what’s possible when you know what the whole world is thinking about any topic, at any time…” - Gnip:Twitter Enterprise API Suite.

City of Jakarta

Gnip worked with the employees of city of Jakarta to provide rapid feedback about the flooding in various districts. Twitter was used to spread information about which districts were safe, and which were worsening. And while this technically isn’t a business decision, it’s even more dire, a decision of having to move your family or household. Employees who have insider information about the flood conditions are spreading that information through twitter and the correct use of hashtags for each local district to inform the local population.

Food Poisoning

Gnip also worked with Harvard Medical School and the Boston Children’s Hospital to help detect food poisoning. The legacy method would have affected individuals (generally) wait a few days until symptoms got worse, then they would visit their doctor. The doctor would then report the problem kitchen to the Center for Disease Control, who would in turn contact their local investigator to confirm a problem kitchen or restaurant. This process can take days, and in the meantime, other people will likely be affected.

The challenge for GNIP was to find a demographic that doesn’t have a social filter, and they found that in teenagers. They would search for certain keywords(often using “urbandictionary” for understanding the meaning of slang words) and then backtrace the location data of previous tweets from the same user. This allowed for problem kitchens to be found out in hours instead of days.

Chevrolet and Trucks

Most new truck owners want to add as many aesthetic options to their new trucks as possible. In this video, because Chevrolet was proactive in their use of Twitter data, they caught and quickly remedied a problem with offering a new option on their trucks.

[In recent years, this information has prompted most truck companies to offer incentives for free aesthetic options on the purchase of new trucks. And Chevrolet was no different, going to offer a chrome steering wheel on their new truck. However, through the entire development process, it was never found out that the steering wheel heats up to crazy high temperatures in the sun.


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