Understanding Twitter’s New Location Prompt

December 13, 2013 David Rush

You’ve probably heard about the latest version of the Twitter mobile app and some of the implications for brands. It’s been generating a lot of buzz for introducing search features that let users navigate to specific people or tweets. Twitter also added the option to filter by media type, such as photos or videos.

But perhaps the most overlooked change rolled up into this update is a conspicuous prompt for the user to tag location as part of their tweet. It’s an update with significant impact for any brand listening to and engaging consumers through social media.

How much does location matter, anyway?

If users with the previous version of the app wanted to tag their location, they needed to do so pro-actively through a two-step process—and one that wasn’t widely used (recent studies show between 1 and 3% of all tweets are tagged with location).

One reason for the low adoption was that until now, tagging location really didn’t change the impact of the tweet. In other words, a tweet authored from a person’s living room would carry the same meaning to its followers as it would if it had been created from a shopping mall. But with photos becoming a more prominent part of the Twitter feed, location carries new status and location tags can provide valuable context to the content.

With Twitter’s new feature, users are asked about location directly: “Are you in Las Vegas, Nevada?” Tapping on this question indicates “yes” and then tags the tweet with location. That action also changes the user’s default setting to automatically share location for future tweets until the function is disabled. The result is more tweets with location embedded in the content.

What can brands do differently with new location data?

We constantly hear about how brands use customer data to more intelligently target them with more relevant ads. But armed with both location data and a new channel to communicate through Twitter, brands can hone in on potential customers who have new status based on their proximity to the business.

Instead of relying solely on mentions of the brand, hashtags, and keywords, marketers can use location data to initiate relevant conversations with users who didn’t tweet directly at them. And brands can promote the use of the tagging feature by sharing real-time rewards, “surprise and delight” campaigns, and other forms of priority status for those at or near their locations.

At Earshot, we recently conducted a study that showed over 90% of all tweets and Instagram posts authored within a one-block radius of a major retailer did not contain the appropriate Twitter handle, hashtag, or even the name of the brand. For the retailer, those are essentially missed opportunities to drive in-store traffic and revenue; many of the posts even included words like “shopping,” “shoes,” and “sale.”

Are social media users open to this type of interaction?

The question then became whether consumers would welcome these types of interactions with brands. When a brand initiates a conversation—even when that individual’s tweet wasn’t directed at the brand itself—do they find it intrusive? How can a brand connect with that person in a way that generates a positive response?

We ran a test with a brand to find out. Of the 175 unique engagements between brand and consumer over a 12-hour period, not a single consumer response was negative. In fact, the engagements actually drove positive responses from consumers, with 18% of posts resulting in a re-tweet, favorite, or even a positive conversation with that user. These are proactive engagements based on proximity that resulted in positive lift for the brand and would have otherwise been missed.

With Twitter’s latest update, users will tag location more frequently on Twitter, resulting in a new frontier of possibilities to engage users proactively. The key is to keep it relevant, and for brands armed with location data, relevancy becomes much more attainable.

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