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Unlocking the marketing power of Twitter

News, 29 September 2015

NEW YORK: New research published in the Journal of Advertising Research (JAR) has provided some insight into the drivers that marketers need to recognise if Twitter is to be more than a passing brand fancy.

In the most recent issue of JAR, Theo Araujo, Peter Neijens and Rens Vliegenthart - all from the University of Amsterdam - investigate a step beyond a simple Twitter post to demonstrate how specific cues can influence the retweeting of brand messages.

In "What Motivates Consumers to Re-Tweet Brand Content? The Impact of Information, Emotion, and Traceability on Pass-Along Behavior", the authors dug down into the data generated by nearly 20,000 brand-focused tweets compiled over three years.

And even as digital marketing at large - and Twitter, specifically - continues to evolve, their analysis pointed to a set of conclusions with immediate relevance.

Firstly, they learned that Twitter users are especially interested in messages which are "rich in informational content".

Pass-along behaviour is also highly dependent on utilitarian factors: "Informational cues were predictors of higher levels of retweeting, particularly product details and links to a brand's website, social network sites, and photos or videos," the study argued.

Emotional triggers have a key underlying role, too. "Although emotional cues did not influence retweeting on their own, they reinforced the effects of informational cues and traceability cues [hashtags] when combined in the same message."

The three University of Amsterdam scholars did offer one caveat to those who presume that social media is a post-and-profit exercise: "Twitter users, however, are not motivated by all kinds of brand information. A message simply about the brand, containing brand cues, will not more likely be retweeted by users.

"In this study, only messages that specifically contained information about products from the brand were associated with higher levels of retweeting, indicating that consumers have a high level of expectation about the brand message's content."

Their conclusion: "Twitter users especially are interested in messages that are rich in informational content."

Data sourced from Warc