Best Practices: How to Use Twitter Amplify

Tips and Tricks for Stopping the Scroll

Think of it as Twitter on steroids.

Twitter’s Amplify service is moving out of the testing phase, as TV networks, sports franchises and brands re-up for second and third campaigns. Amplify allows brands and media companies to extend their engagement by creating co-branded content that Twitter can then send out not only to followers, but also to other users who may also be interested in the content.

Thus far, Amplify has best been used as a way to engage with Twitter users during big live events like sports and awards shows, and for the most part the content has been video clips that include short pre-roll ads from sponsors. But Twitter has been ramping up its offerings beyond video and is now looking to make the Amplify relevant for episodic content.

So what’s the best way from advertisers and content providers to utilize Amplify? Here are seven tips from major marketers and TV programmers.

Make It Relevant

It seems obvious, but brands shouldn’t ambush the conversation with a barrage of co-branded videos and images. Pepsi’s Senior Director-Media Chad Stubbs says marketers need to be authentic.

This means a brand shouldn’t partner with an event or piece of content just because it’s trending. “Brands need to think like curators and editors, not just advertisers,” said Ron Amram, senior media director-marketing at the brewer. At Heineken, soccer and tennis are natural fits, but motor sports, not so much, he said.

So Heineken amplified content around the 2013 U.S. Open. The campaign generated 12 million impressions and 200,000 engagements across 124 tweets. The brewer will run another Amplify campaign around the event this year.

US Open Tennis Twitter Video

US Open Tennis Twitter Video

The ultimate driver for partnering with Twitter Amplify shouldn’t be to generate press or to appear innovative, said Jeff Lucas, head of sales, music and entertainment, Viacom. It should be to provide viewers access to content that’s relevant to the brand and they couldn’t get elsewhere.

Have A Game Plan, But Be Flexible

TV networks and brands shouldn’t approach Twitter with a plan for a specific number of posts per day, per event. “If it’s not newsworthy or interesting, and it won’t stop people from scrolling the feed, then it’s not worth posting. You cannot post your way to engagement,” Mr. Amram said.

Still, there are some general guidelines when it comes to the number of posts. CBS Interactive Senior VP-General Manager Marc DeBevoise has found posting two to four times during a program works well and isn’t overload if you are supplying the right content to the right audience.

Think Beyond The Moment

After some trial and error, CBS has altered the way it approaches Amplify campaigns. Initially, the company pushed out content on Twitter just before a program aired and in the midst of the event. But Mr. DeBevoise said it has since learned to think beyond just in-the-moment.

“We have realized [Amplify] is more powerful and there’s a bigger opportunity in the days leading up to the event, during the broadcast, and then after it airs,” Mr. DeBevoise said. “There’s a longer tailwind and an opportunity for brands to reach its audience multiple times, producing a trickle effect.”

Be creative

The endless Twitter scroll makes it difficult to capture users’ attention, so it is critical to select an image and headline that will make them stop and engage, Mr. Amram said.

ESPN has been testing a way to stop the scroll. Instead of sending out just one video to everyone, it’s experimenting with creating multiple executions targeted to specific Twitter users, said Eric Johnson, exec VP-global multimedia sales.

Don’t Replicate Content, Add To It

Figuring out what types of posts will be most relevant and engaging to users is critical. NFL’s Vishal Shah, VP-media strategy and business development, said programming Twitter is more than just cutting and pasting content that appears on other platforms. He advises creating content specifically for Twitter that provides additional access for users, like behind-the-scenes content, rather than replicating what appeared on the TV screen.

NFL Network Football Video on Twitter

NFL Network Football Video on Twitter

Work To Sustain Audiences

Using Twitter Amplify around sports or live events like awards shows is one thing. But applying the platform to scripted dramas and comedies requires a different approach.

Viacom is one of the network groups looking to expand Amplify into episodic programming this year with MTV’s “Teen Wolf.” MTV said using Amplify this way is less about leveraging big, singular viral moments, and more about communicating a sustained message with a show’s fan base over an extended period of time.

One way to engage Twitter users around episodic programming could be to send out brief recaps of shows the morning before a new episode airs, suggested Jesse Redniss, Chief Strategy Officer, Mass Relevance, a company that creates social experiences for marketers and media companies.

Let Go

Twitter is all about real time. “It’s not an archive,” Mr. Amram said. If you missed the window to be part of a conversation and it is no longer timely, it’s best to move on.

by Jeanine Poggi