It’s likely that social media marketing plays an important role in your branding strategy. If so, you are likely always on the lookout for new platforms and product features that will allow you to interact with and engage with your audience in different ways. This means that you should know about Twitter Spaces.
Shortly after the launch of Fleets, Twitter announced the first launch of Spaces, a new social experience powered by audio-only chat rooms. It’s currently in private beta, but it’s already clear that Spaces could offer numerous benefits to brands if they were more widely used.
Here’s my take on the newest feature from Twitter.
What are Twitter Rooms?
If you’ve got your finger on the pulse of social media, you’ve probably heard of a busy platform called Clubhouse, an ultra-exclusive, invite-only, audio-based social app that’s popular with A-listeners and the leaders of Silicon Valley equally.
Users have described it as a live action podcast where you can jump in and out of different rooms and listen to or participate in conversations on a variety of topics.
Spaces is basically Twitter’s take on Clubhouse, except that it will be available to everyone (at some point), not just a select few.
While Clubhouse has criticized its light-hearted approach to moderation, which makes it a potential breeding ground for online harassment, Twitter Spaces has been capitalizing on inclusivity. His vision is to repeat the “magical feeling” of a “bombshell dinner party” where you don’t know all of the guests, but everyone feels comfortable at the table.
At the time of writing, Twitter Spaces is still in beta testing. Only a few hundred users are on board, mostly from groups exposed to harassment and trolling. However, the first reception was certainly positive.
How do Twitter Spaces work?
Now let’s get to the basics of Twitter Spaces.
Only those in the beta test group can create Spaces, but anyone on iOS can join. Twitter promises to add to the list of people who can create rooms over time. Once you get access, there are two ways to start Spaces:
- By long pressing the Compose button and then tapping the Spaces symbol on the far left
- Or tap your profile picture in Fleets, scroll all the way to the right and tap Space
While there is no limit to the number of listeners in a given area, the number of speakers is limited to 10. However, Twitter is going ahead with the words “for now,” suggesting that speaker capacity can be increased across the board.
The host of a space can determine who can connect with language rights by selecting:
- People you follow
- Only people whom you specifically invite to speak (invitations are sent as direct messages)
Once a space is set up, the host can remove, report and block participants. Plus, you’re the only person who can end a session.
Now more about removing, reporting and blocking. In an ideal world, Twitter Spaces would self-monitor with trolls being kicked out and reported for violations immediately, but that’s not the case here.
Twitter says it will keep copies of all Spaces for 30 days after they end so its team can review the session for violations of Twitter rules. If they discover violations, they extend the time limit to 90 days so that people can appeal if they believe a mistake has been made.
As long as Twitter retains a certain amount of space, the host can download a copy of the full session data. You also have the option of downloading minutes of the session, provided you enable transcriptions.
In the early days, the Twitter Spaces team featured a handful of other features that are currently being tested, including:
- Hand gesture-like reactions
- Live transcriptions, although Twitter says it works with a “very early version” of this feature
- Share tweets in rooms
How Organizations Can Use Twitter Rooms
Now that you know what Twitter Spaces are, and a little bit of how it works. How can brands use this new feature to take their Twitter marketing to the next level?
These are my early impressions; I want to qualify them by noting that more use cases may arise once Spaces exits beta and becomes broader.
Receive audience feedback
The feedback from the audience is very valuable. It helps us iron out wrinkles in our products, test new ideas and measure consumer sentiment towards our brands.
Traditionally, gathering feedback was all about leading focus groups, but these face-to-face sessions take a long time to organize and inherently only reach a tiny fraction of your audience.
As a result, brands are increasingly leaning towards online customer surveys, often through tools like Google Forms. Surveys help you reach a much wider audience and make it easy to collect quantitative data that you can track over time.
However, polls aren’t perfect either. In particular, they lack the personal face-to-face contact that makes focus groups so effective. It’s easy to miss the nuance behind an answer when it’s entered on a form rather than delivered as part of a two-way conversation.
Twitter Spaces could be the perfect balance between the two:
- They are digital so you can reach a lot of people without dragging them to one physical place.
- They enable a real back and forth conversation, which gives you a much richer and more differentiated feedback.
Since Spaces is part of Twitter, you can use social listening to find the ideal people for your digital feedback sessions. Monitor Twitter for mentions of your brand, products, competitors, and other relevant keywords, and send out invitations to the most relevant, engaged users.
Introduction of new functions or products for followers
If you want to get general audience feedback, it helps to look beyond your existing customer base. This can help you understand how non-customers perceive you compared to your competition.
However, if you are planning on new features or products, it makes sense to stay closer to home because the most valuable feedback to help you make these decisions comes from the people who use your product every day.
Again, Twitter Spaces can help you out, provided you have a decent social following. Set up a space, add your followers and ask for their feedback. It’s faster and easier than sending out a poll, and it allows you to leverage your existing audience on Twitter.
Host discussions on trending topics in your industry
Panel discussions offer a double benefit for brands:
- They position you as a thought leader with your finger on the pulse of your industry. Why is that important? Research from Edelman has shown that thought leadership builds your reputation and has a positive impact on invitations, wins, prices, and post-sale cross-selling.
- They allow you to invite prospects to join your panel so that you can network with them, demonstrate your expertise, and nurture your relationship.
Additionally, Twitter Spaces could be a great substitute for face-to-face panel discussions, as it’s easier (and cheaper) to invite a group of people to a Space than to a physical event.
Because the host has complete control over who is in a session, who can speak, and the ability to kick people out if they don’t follow the rules, Twitter Spaces are great for discussing trending topics in a free environment from abuse and trolling.
Interact with followers in real time
Once upon a time, brand communication was pretty much a one-way street. You would start a new campaign, sit back and hope your audience rounds it off.
That is no longer the case. Nowadays, people expect real two-way interactions with brands. Additionally, 64% of consumers and 80% of business customers expect these interactions to happen in real time.
This type of live engagement isn’t possible on most platforms, but Twitter Spaces makes it possible. Your audience can adjust to your live discussions, react to them, and possibly even be included in the conversation (if selected as a speaker).
It goes way beyond just engaging your existing audience, however.
Since people in your space are allowed to invite other participants, you can encourage your followers to share them with their followers in order to introduce you to a much wider audience.
With Spaces, Twitter seems to have retained many of the elements that made Clubhouse such a hit while addressing the harassment issues. That makes it a safe and tasty place for brands to build and maintain a highly engaged Twitter following.
Any platform, tactic, or tool that marketers can use to break the barriers between brands and audiences deserves consideration. I look forward to learning more about Twitter Spaces when the private beta ends and it fully starts.
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What do you think of Twitter Spaces? Perhaps you’re part of the beta trial and have hands-on experience, or you’re just looking forward to trying it out for yourself. Anyway, let me know in the comments!