The Year Of The Tweet

If the President of the United States considers Twitter his most effective communications tool, who are we to argue?

by Mark Tungate , Adforum

So the United States has its first tweeting President. And while some have cast aspersions on his character, he certainly uses 140 of them effectively.

Twitter is also a favourite of advertisers – very often as an effectiveness metric in case study videos (look how many tweets we reaped!). But there are many other more cunning ways of using the service.

The main advantage of twitter is that it enables brands not only to engage in conversations with consumers, but also to collaborate with them. Back in 2013, Lincoln invited its followers to tweet the plot points of a TV commercial. The result of #SteerTheScript was somewhat surreal.

DirecTV took a similar approach when it discovered that consumers were making impromptu, amateur versions of a popular TV campaign. Consumers’ tweets built into a storyboard for an ad that was then shot and “given back” to fans.

The word “tweeting” has become so closely associated with digital communications that we sometimes forget its original meaning. Reporters Without Borders reminded us by converting tweets into birdsong for its anti-censorship campaign “tweet free as a bird”.

Another cause-related campaign revolved around the idea of NOT tweeting. Some of the most popular celebrities on Twitter pledged to end their digital lives unless users agreed to resuscitate them by donating to Keep A Child alive. Watch the video below to see the celebs reading unconvincingly from teleprompters.

Twitter’s proximity is one of the reasons users like it so much – it makes them feel far closer to the celebrities (and leaders of the free world) they’re following. Charities have taken advantage of this to create empathy by encouraging homeless people, victims of domestic violence, and, in the case below, prison inmates to tweet.

You may be aware that Twitter isn’t the only micro-blogging platform on the block. China has the equally massive Weibo, a fact Fred & Farid utilised to draw attention to Porsche’s return to the 24 Hours of Le Mans rally – by pitting the platforms (and their users) against one another.


Marketing and tech websites regularly post rankings of the brands that make the best use of Twitter. The bottom line is that compelling content paired with a natural voice can work wonders. JetBlue is often praised for not only responding to questions and complaints via Twitter, but going “above and beyond to delight customers”. To find out how they (and other brands) do it, here’s a useful survey from last year.

Finally, we couldn’t leave you without a word from The Donald himself. Check out this ad for Oreo cookies. If you dare.