Twitter And Instagram Execs Share Social Media Best Practices

1klaudiaI’ve been an advocate of social media since the early days of Myspace, but I didn’t realize how important platforms such as Twitter and Instagram are to brands and retailers until I first started my career as an editor. Social media is, in my opinion, the best way to generate buzz for your brand, engage with customers and gather insight into what your competitors are doing. Not to mention it’s pretty fun, right?

I recently attended an event hosted by Women’s Health Magazine, which presented an interesting panel on social media featuring Twitter’s Brand Marketing Specialist Erin Dress and Instagram’s Global Lead Kay Hsu. Both panelists had some fascinating things to say regarding social media content, how brands are using video, and more. I also spoke to Erin Dress after the panel, who provided me with some social media do’s and don’ts for retailers. Read on!

It’s All About Content, Content, Content

The best thing about social media is that retailers and brands of all sizes can be successful. It’s really all about experimenting with intriguing content and knowing your audience.  


“Being experimental is a good thing in terms of social media campaigns,” said Hsu. “A good campaign starts with well-written content, really paying attention to production value, and also telling a story that really resonates and makes sense for the brand.”

For Twitter, visual content is growing rapidly. “We’ve seen video grow over 200x in the last year alone and it continues to grow,” Dress said. “So thinking about telling a story in a more engaging way that is going to have stopping power while people are scrolling through their timeline is really important.”

I was shocked to hear how well videos do on social media platforms such as Twitter and Instagram, as I’ve always noticed less engagement with them on my feeds. But I was wrong.

“We found that in the last six months, video consumption has actually gone up 40%,” said Hsu. “That’s a huge growth for us and we responded with a bigger array of tools for video, because we know there is a desire for this storytelling that video can play a part in.”  

Instagram now offers 15-, 30- and 60-second video options, which allow brands and retailers to really get their story across to fans. Additionally, the platform has launched tools such as Boomerang, Hyperlapse and video carousels that provide unique content creation with little effort.

Q&A With Twitter’s Erin Dress: Use The Network To Reach Early Adopters

After the panel, I sat down with Erin Dress to pick her brain on social media best practices.

Retail TouchPoints (RTP): What are the top three ways brands and retailers can maximize their social media experience?

Erin Dress: One way is definitely customer service. It’s such an important element of why people are on Twitter, and why they’re connecting with retailers especially. So making sure that the response is fast and represents the brand, because social is also public so people will see your response as part of your brand. And they’ll judge you accordingly.

Another is deal-seeking: When you’re having a sale and are offering coupons, consumers are looking for that information from retailers. The mobile phone and Twitter have kind of replaced news for a lot of people. So using Twitter to get that deal information out is really important.

Finally, Twitter is full of people who consider themselves early adopters (3x the rate of the normal population of early adopters are on Twitter). They’re the most important people to reach first, so you want to make sure when you’re having a product launch or a special offer — Lilly Pulitzer for Target is an amazing example — you want to make sure to get heard with that audience first because they’re going to be the ones that start sharing.

RTP: What’s one big no-no when it comes to social media?

Dress: I think a massive no-no is overusing hashtags or emojis. It’s something people think is cutesy, and while it can fit your brand to either use emojis or hashtags, it has to be authentic and you don’t want to over-communicate. In fact, the clearest and best performing tweets are under 100 characters. So often, the shorter the better. You don’t want to extend it all the way out to 140. Even below 50 can be really powerful. I think Chipotle is an example of a brand that does an amazing job with very short content; and Denny’s as well. So make sure you’re concise.

RTP: Should all (or most) tweets be accompanied by an image?

Dress: 100% yes. Not only do image tweets perform better than non-image tweets (so always include an image), but video tweets, we’re finding, are performing even better than image tweets.

We’ve recently had a personal care brand where the sales lift with the video tweet was 2x that of the image tweets. It can be very engaging and really have that stopping power (when scrolling) that get people to absorb the information that you’re presenting.

RTP: Have you found longer or shorter videos to be more successful?

Dress: For Twitter, shorter video is better. I think that the most power we’ve found from our studies come from the first three seconds.

Hopefully this article has convinced you to seriously consider using social media platforms such as Twitter and Instagram. Social media is here to stay, and your brand may be missing out if you’re not leveraging it to its fullest potential. Just remember: more images and video, and less hashtags and emojis.

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