When I saw that Diginomica had done an article about Twitter testing how ads effect users subconsciously, I suspected it was going to be a mess of pseudo-science that excused low interaction rates, like the one done by Facebook a while back. However, I was pleasantly surprised. Although there was a pretty significant amount of talking about why advertising on Twitter was a good idea, there were also some actually useful insights as well as an admission that the platform can do a lot to improve advertising methods.
The study was handled by Neuro-Insight, and researchers used Steady State Typography, a type of EEG technology that measures the way the brain reacts to different stimuli, to see how people responded to different types of ads and ad formats. This works by creating a baseline with bland stimuli and seeing if and how much a person’s brain “lights up” when what is supposed to be more interesting stimuli is presented. Everybody’s brain is mapped differently, so you can’t really say that this person felt this exact emotion, at least not with real accuracy, but at least you can tell when some sort of response is registered and generally to what degree.
It was determined that compared to 100 other studies done by the company, Twitter had 51% better ability to get the part of the brain associated with familiarity to light up and was 75% better than other platforms at getting the emotional response part of the brain to light up. This isn’t really surprising since Twitter feeds are created by the individual, hence the familiarity, and the site is also a hot spot for breaking news, ergo the emotional response. Still, it does show that people are engaged when on the site.
What works for mobile ads
So, now that we’ve established a Twitter study said that Twitter is The Awesome, let’s get on to the interesting bits. First, being recognized is key, especially since people may fly past your Tweet. Next, if you can evoke an emotional response, you should go for it. Although few ads attempt to do so, when emotional connections are created, they resonate with people and make for the most memorable ads.
Additionally, it’s important to create a linear narrative if you’re using video.
The group was shown two sets of Vine videos, one set where the videos were abstract, repetitive patterns, whilst the other was narrative-led. For example, Taylor showed us one used by a brand of a girl dancing. And then showed us one of a guy throwing a ball, which hits the hood a car, and then bounces through a basketball hoop. The latter got a much higher engagement rate because it has a narrative.
High follower counts are also helpful. In addition to making people more likely to consider a brand with a higher follower count more trustworthy, individuals are also more likely to buy from these brands. However, if you’ve got a lower follower count, don’t panic; only 27% said follower counts made a brand more trustworthy.
Promoted Tweets were also given more consideration by 20 percent of people involved in the study compared to organic Tweets, which to me says either that there’s really little difference between the two in how people perceive a Tweet or they didn’t notice the difference.
Finally, tone does matter. Funny and socially responsible messages were the ones that were most likely to get users to have a positive impression of a brand, but when it comes time to get sales, serious tones did better. In other words, people may like you, but they also want to deal with a dependable company and a good product.