Chief marketing officers are always looking around for trends to exploit for brand campaigns. According to Twitter Canada, the best place to look is on its platform, where trends are evident from the increase in conversations on topics and their related hashtags.

For example, conversations about immersive retail, which includes what unique things stores are doing to bring in customers — for example, parka manufacturer Canada Goose building “cold rooms” in stores so shoppers can really try out their gear –are up 367 per cent.

These and other numbers have been pulled out of a study of tweets between 2016 and 2019, Twitter Canada officials told reporters in Toronto on Wednesday. Billed as an information session to predict what issues will be trending this year on the social media platform, it was also an attempt to show that Twitter is important in identifying culture shifts and therefore a platform marketers should pay attention to.

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So Michelle Slater, the Canadian division’s head of business marketing, said that “we look at Twitter as the conversational layer of the internet … These trends are truely shaping culture in Canada, and around the world.”

In addition to lots of talk about immersive retail — what some call ‘retail-tainment’ — the study found these other sharp increases in conversations on the platform:

  • a 360 per cent increase in conversations related to artificial intelligence and the arts, including new artists and the use of new technologies for art (music, drawing, film). On illustration art there’s been a 10,000 per cent increase in chatter and hashtags, discussing everything from fantasy to anime. That includes the poster who wondered ‘Anyone have any ideas how to get prince harry to come to my art show?’
  • a 262 per cent increase in postings related to video creation, including content from supposed up and coming video makers, vloggers and even A-list celebrities promoting their own vlogs
  • a 736 per cent increase in talk about podcasts, including people promoting their own podcasts

Other things that are big are fan armies (people who are enthusiastic about artists or athletes who compete to earn their hero’s top spots in award shows); fan tourism (people who travel to places where historical or fantasy TV shows and films are made); and LARPing (short for Live Action Role Players, who are people who dress in costumes related to their favourite TV or film characters).

All of this begs the question of what business leaders would get out of the survey?

“It depends on the industry,” Slater said in an interview. “In the automotive sector the information about how people [on Twitter] are embracing technology in a different way would potentially help drive product innovation, and even how they go to market with how they’re talking about the future of mobility.

“If it’s around financial services, it may be a little different – thinking about how they could have creators help influence the conversation about how they’re going to market. I think there are snippets in each of the segments we presented that would have impact to help either drive marketing campaigns, product innovation or how they’re speaking to consumers overall.

“We’re seeing a number of businesses in Canada using Twitter in innovative ways, and looking at the insights and all the data that Twitter has available based on the conversations people are sharing. For example, (brewery) Labatt is using insights from Twitter to help drive their marketing campaigns so they’re more closely aligned with cultural moments. With the SuperBowl happening on Sunday we’re seeing a lot of brands jump in that conversation as well and shaping their marketing campaigns based on some of the changes and the trends happening in our culture.”

Another example of a campaign on the platform she cited was smartphone manufacturer Samsung partnering with Director X (otherwise known as Julien Christian Lee, who has been behind music videos of Drake and Rhianna) to promote the new Note 10 handset last fall and its ability to make music videos. Slater said Samsung chose Twitter for the campaign to reach content creators.

In her opinion, one company that was among those that made the best use of Twitter last year was supermarket chain Loblaws, which greatly raised the visibility of its No Name brand of products.

“It had no social media presence on January 1, 2019. but we worked with the No Name brand marketing team … Since they opened their account in late spring they’ve embraced the fun, quirky elements of what their brand stands for – they live-Tweeted the Emmys, have quirky messages very much aligned with what their brand voice is.”

Asked what the biggest thing Canadian organizations do wrong on Twitter, Slater was careful.

“Twitter is a conversational platform. It’s a way to have a two-way dialogue with consumers. So when businesses are tweeting out they will get input, inspiration, comments suggestions from current and prospective consumers, and even their employees. Understanding that Twitter is conversational is what differentiates it from other platforms … That’s an opportunity for businesses to really lean in and understand what consumers care about and have that shape their product suite, innovation and even how they do business.”

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