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Why Twitter is the killer platform for brand-building on mobile

Big brands such as Oreo, Dunkin? Donuts and Ford are helping Twitter drive 75 percent of its advertising revenue from mobile. Strengthening these brand ties will be a big focus of the $1 billion Twitter hopes to raise via its upcoming initial public offering.

While Twitter?s use base is significantly smaller than Facebook?s, recent research shows that the former is more likely to attract power users who want to engage with brands on social. However, Facebook continues to beef up its mobile advertising offerings, including recently debuting ads on Instagram, setting the stage for a head-to-head race to become the killer platform for brands looking to reach mobile social users.

?If used correctly, Twitter allows brands to have authentic real-time conversations with their customers, regardless if it is for customer service, general feedback or a promotion,? said Kevin Shawver, Seattle, WA-based senior account director at digital agency Essence.

?Twitter is a platform that requires brands to give more than they get in order to keep their relationships strong and ongoing,? he said.

?In my opinion, there is currently nothing more powerful and important as Twitter when it comes to brand building on mobile.?

Power users
Users who are on Twitter are more active across all social channels including Facebook, according to recent research from social loyalty platform PunchTab.

Not only that, but Twitter users are also more likely to engage with brands on social.

Users who follow a brand on Twitter comment 20 times more often than non-followers, watch nine times more videos than non-followers, view more pages and share more pages.

Another PunchTab study showed that moms who indicated they would follow a brand on Twitter were also the most likely to purchase more often, at 98 percent compared to 81 percent overall.

?For brands, Twitter is a huge technological advancement that is helping them solve age old problems - reaching customers; increasing engagement and awareness; and developing loyalty,? said Ranjith Kumaran, founder and CEO at PunchTab, Palo Alto, CA.

?Twitter attracts power users, who want to engage brands on social,? he said. ?A huge infusion of cash means Twitter will just get better.

?You?re bound to see both instream offers and ads from brands become even more relevant, interactive and engaging. There?s so much value there.?

Mobile at scale
Twitter filed a report last week with the Securities and Exchange Commission in anticipation of an initial public offering of its stock. The report shows that 75 percent of Twitter's active users came from a mobile device, including smartphones and tablets, in the three-month period ended June 30.

During the same period, 65 percent of Twitter's advertising revenue was generated from mobile devices.

In comparison, Facebook recently reported that 41 percent of its advertising revenue comes from mobile.

However, Facebook has a much bigger mobile user base - approximately 819 million users compared to 121 million on Twitter ? which is a big plus in its favor when it comes to attracting big brand advertisers looking to reach mobile users at scale.

"Twitter is the essence of today's fluid media, from a user experience, content flow and brand inclusion POV,? said Cliff Medney, chief creative strategist at digital agency Flightpath, New York.

?Twitter built on its first mover position, across platform, by constantly innovating their system and ease of engagement (remember ?retweeting? back in the day) and in broadening the twitter program portfolio/ecosystem,? he said.

?From the top down they uniquely get both content delivery and transactional simplicity, and nothing is really more important to mobile than that."

Instagram ads
Facebook?s own IPO was initially a disaster in part because there were a lot of questions about how it would generate revenue from mobile as smartphone and tablet use quickly grows.

Twitter hopes to avoid some of the problems Facebook did with investors by making sure the market clearly understands its mobile strategy.

Facebook?s mobile fortunes have been quickly growing this year as it has improved its targeting capabilities and introduced more options for marketers.

Facebook also continues to aggressively go after the mobile space. In its latest move, Facebook?s Instagram will begin rolling out ads in the next couple of months.

"Twitter has carved out a unique niche as the primary mobile marketing platform," said Craig Elimeliah, New York-based vice president of creative technology at RAPP.

"The upcoming IPO will only strengthen that position as Twitter seems to be creating great partnerships with media companies and networks," he said.

"Brands struggle to engage in a way that is valuable on Facebook because they are essentially disrupting the user experience."

Competition grows
The mobile social space in general continues to heat up from an advertising perspective.

Pinterest is testing an advertising play that could give both Twitter and Facebook a run for their money given the upstart?s more innate orientation towards commerce (see story).

?The current trifecta of mobile social media - Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter - all have a firm mobile platform for brand marketing,? said Michelle Kelarakos, social media strategist at Flightpath. ?Brand-building on mobile media platforms depends on the brand and targeting audience,?

?Twitter is elite for news and a quick learn,? she said. ?For something more visual and more personal, brands should focus on Facebook or Pinterest. Another thing to keep in mind is the purchase of Instagram by Facebook.?

Display advertising
The leading advertising product on Twitter is Promoted Products, which lets marketers target based on who users are following and actions taken on the platform, providing a real-time signal of a user's interest so that marketers can enhance the relevance of the ads they deliver.

Twitter recently acquired MoPub to extend its reach beyond native advertising on mobile into display ads, putting Twitter ahead of Facebook on this front (see story).

Twitter also beefed up its efforts to enable brands to tie their TV strategies to mobile social through a mixture of real-time video tied to TV viewing and ads targeting TV viewers (see story).

"Twitter is truly mobile at its core," RAPP's Mr. Elimeliah said. "The brevity of the media format and the real-time nature of the feed is exactly what the DNA needed for successful mobile marketing.

"It is easy to see how uniquely competitive the platform is and how close to a perfect mobile web experience a person can have via a smartphone," he said.

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Marketer, New York