How Companies Leverage Twitter‘s Unique Features to Drive Engagement and Build Their Brand

Twitter has firmly established itself as a core social media channel for brands looking to engage their audience and build mindshare. With over 200 million monetizable daily active users as of 2023, and a highly engaged userbase, Twitter presents a major opportunity for companies.

But Twitter isn‘t like other social platforms. Its short-form, fast-paced, real-time nature makes it uniquely positioned for certain marketing activities and brand interactions.

To get the most out of Twitter, brands need to lean into the features and ways of connecting that make the platform special. Here‘s a look at some of the top Twitter features and how leading companies are leveraging them to great effect.

1. Tap into trending topics to join the conversation

One of the most iconic features of Twitter is trends. Twitter continuously tracks the most talked about topics, hashtags, and keywords and surfaces them as clickable links. This creates a real-time pulse of what the world is talking about and what‘s capturing attention right now.

Twitter trends tend to change quickly throughout the day as new developments emerge. This contrasts with a platform like TikTok where trends and sounds can stay popular for weeks or months. So Twitter trends tend to be the most timely.

Brands can leverage trends by looking for opportunities to join the conversation where it makes sense for them. This could include:

  • Tweeting with a trending hashtag to insert the brand into a popular conversation
  • Jumping on a trending topic in a timely, relevant way
  • Using trending topics as inspiration for timely content

The key is to participate authentically and avoid forcing it if the trend isn‘t truly a fit for the brand. Arby‘s is an example of a brand that has had success tapping into trends:

[Screenshot of Arby‘s joining the #HighSchoolCliques trend]

By quote tweeting a popular prompt asking what clique you were in in high school and giving a cheeky on-brand response, Arby‘s tapped into a massively viral conversation in a natural way.

2. Create immersive stories with Twitter Moments

Twitter Moments allow stitching together multiple tweets and storylines into a single, visually immersive collection. Moments are tappable full-screen stories that can incorporate images, videos, GIFs and of course, tweets.

This format allows brands to go beyond the impact of a single post to craft a richer narrative. Some potential use cases for Twitter Moments in marketing include:

  • Event recaps and highlights
  • Curating influencer and fan tweets
  • Telling the story of a product launch
  • Sharing key takeaways from a Twitter Chat
  • Providing a tutorial or how-to guide

For example, General Electric created this visually striking Moment connecting the worlds of technology and fashion for the Met Gala:

[Screenshot of GE Twitter Moment for Met Gala]

By curating tweets and media across multiple storylines, GE was able to craft an engaging story that showcased their brand in a fresh way.

3. Engage your audience with Twitter Polls

Twitter Polls allow easily surveying your audience and seeing the results in real-time. With just a couple taps, users can weigh in with their opinion and see how others voted.

This low-friction interaction makes Twitter Polls extremely popular and engaging. Brands can use polls in a variety of ways:

  • Gather quick feedback and opinions
  • Entertain and delight followers
  • Learn about customer preferences
  • Gauge interest on a topic

For example, take this simple yet effective poll from HubSpot:

[Screenshot of HubSpot Twitter Poll]

By asking their audience to weigh in on a light-hearted, relatable question, HubSpot created an easy touchpoint to interact with their brand. Over 1,000 votes shows the poll clearly resonated.

4. Build real-time interaction with live video

Live video has become an extremely popular format across social media in recent years. But Twitter stands out for the tight integration between live video and real-time audience interaction.

When you go live on Twitter, your broadcast appears right at the top of your follower‘s timelines with a "Live" badge. From there, viewers can tap to expand to full screen and interact via likes, comments, and sharing just like any other tweet – all updating in real-time as you stream. You can even pin comments so everyone sees them.

This turns Twitter live broadcasts from a passive viewing experience into an interactive conversation. For brands, some compelling use cases for Twitter live video include:

  • Broadcasting from events
  • Hosting Q&As and AMAs
  • Interviewing team members and influencers
  • Demonstrating products
  • Providing real-time customer support

The possibilities are endless. And you don‘t always need a fancy production – even just turning on the camera to chat directly with your audience can be tremendously effective on Twitter.

5. Tell richer stories with Tweet threads

Twitter‘s 280 character limit forces brevity. But sometimes brands need more room to express an idea or tell a story. That‘s where Tweet threading comes in.

Threading allows connecting multiple tweets together in a sequence. This allows crafting a longer narrative while preserving the quick, consumable nature of each individual post.

Threads are the evolution of "tweetstorms," which previously involved replying to your own tweets to create a connected series. Now Twitter allows connecting tweets with a couple taps to officially create a thread.

For brands, some potential use cases for threads include:

  • Providing a longer How-To guide or tutorial
  • Announcing a multifaceted product update
  • Sharing a customer success story
  • Interviewing an expert on a topic
  • Giving a peek behind-the-scenes

For example, Wistia used this thread to go in-depth on how their team approaches projects:

[Screenshot of Wistia Twitter thread on workflows]

By threading the tweets together, Wistia turned a single glanceable tweet into a series of value-packed best practices. The thread format makes it scannable while still communicating a richer storyline than would be possible in one post.

6. Build one-on-one bonds in the DMs

90% of Twitter users say they have used DM (Direct Message) conversations to interact with a brand. This highlights the growing importance of Twitter DMs as a marketing channel.

Some key ways brands are using Twitter DMs include:

  • Providing personalized customer service
  • Nurturing and converting leads
  • Sending exclusive offers and promotions
  • Gathering feedback and insights

The one-on-one, private nature of DMs allows building more personal connections than simply tweeting back and forth. When done right, this can create a VIP experience that turns casual followers into loyalists and evangelists.

7. Stand out with custom Twitter emojis

For tentpole campaigns or huge events, Twitter offers the option to create custom branded emoji that appear whenever someone uses your specified hashtag.

For example, Disney+ created the custom emoji of Grogu (aka Baby Yoda) that automatically populated when people tweeted with the hashtag #TheMandalorian to promote the release of season 3:

[Screenshot showing Baby Yoda emoji with #TheMandalorian hashtag]

This added a special branded flourish to every Tweet about the show and made discussion of the new season more visually striking and memorable. Over 500,000 tweets used the hashtag in a week, spawning tremendous additional organic reach for the campaign.

8. Spark real-time conversations with Twitter Chats

Twitter Chats (sometimes called "TweetChats") allow sparking an interactive real-time conversation around a topic, using a branded hashtag to tie the whole discussion together.

During the scheduled chat time, a moderator from the brand will pose a series of questions or prompts using a Q1/A1 format. Participants respond and interact using the hashtag, creating a fast-moving conversation between the brand and audience.

While Twitter Chats require some coordination and moderation, they can pay off by deepening your brand‘s relationship with its community. Some tips for hosting a successful Twitter Chat:

  • Set and promote a consistent schedule (e.g. every Tuesday at 12pm)
  • Prepare thought-provoking questions around a focused theme
  • Secure some partners or influencers to help promote and participate
  • Engage in real-time by liking and replying to participant tweets
  • Curate the best tweets into a Moment or blog post for extended reach

For example, #TwitterSmarter chat, hosted by Twitter expert Madalyn Sklar, regularly brings together hundreds of participants to discuss Twitter tips and best practices. The chats trend on Twitter and get major engagement.

Bringing it all together

As we‘ve seen, Twitter offers an array of compelling features to help brands connect with their audience in unique ways. But the platform‘s real power emerges when you combine multiple features into an integrated strategy.

The key is to keep it real-time, conversational, and interactive. Don‘t just broadcast, but participate. Tap into trends, take the community‘s pulse with polls, and go deeper in the DMs. Put a personal touch on your tweets with custom visuals, threads, and Moments. And spark the big discussions with live video and Twitter Chats.

By leaning into the aspects that make Twitter special, you can build deeper connections with your audience, insert your brand into of-the-moment conversations, and drive real business impact. So get out there and start experimenting with new ways to bring your brand to life on Twitter!