Discovering brand opportunities on micro communities for Twitter

Going beyond regular research, our Culture + Trends solution provides future-facing insights that impact innovation, customer experience and branding challenges. Together with Twitter we explored brand territories on social media.

The challenge

Twitter, the well-known microblogging and social networking service, could see there was a significant and growing trend around micro communities on its platform. What they didn’t understand were behaviour and needs on these communities and the opportunities for brand partners to successfully engage with their consumers.

Our solution

Twitter used a hybrid approach, including cutting-edge data science analysis and primary research, uncovering 75 subcommunities.  

Culture + Trends research was an important piece of the puzzle. Our goal was to deep dive into the culture shifts and psychological needs behind emerging community behaviours. For example, how is the growing loneliness crisis creating a new demand for closed online community groups? What role is Twitter playing and what does this mean for its brand partners?

We combined a unique blend of resources: after an initial phase of secondary research using social intelligence to analyse follower graphs and bios, we used our Illume Network to deep dive into four showcase communities: Health, Music, Football, and Gaming. We selected five cultural curator Illume Guides that were proactively driving their community forward. For example, for gaming, we spoke to an eSports Caster that wants to make gaming a legitimate sport, and for Health, we spoke to a mental health start-up owner. We conducted in-depth interviews and online diaries with each Guide, exploring where their community is heading, what the role of Twitter is, and what role they think brands should and could take up.  

The impact

“The Illume Guides really brought the output to life in a way that wouldn’t have happened otherwise, not just in terms of the experiential event spaces but also in the deck by bringing all the research back to real people and their real experiences. And the Culture/Trends work placed everything in a broader context, which helped to deepen our understanding of what was happening on Twitter (e.g. with Mental Health) and ensure that things like the recommendations for brands were relevant more broadly, and were more strategic and not necessarily Twitter-specific.”

Rob Sanders, Insights Manager, Twitter

Our Culture + Trends exploration with Illume Guides enables us to identify a powerful narrative around the emerging needs of people on communities on Twitter – and to identify where brands have the right to play. People want to feel part of a broader conversation, stay connected, and access up-to-date information and news.​ Discovering entertaining content and receiving emotional support was next in the list, and finally, the opportunity to influence others. ​ 

The results were brought to life at Twitter’s annual brand event, via immersive room installations and in a set of community playbooks.  The project was presented at ESOMAR Fusion 2019, and has been submitted for a range of industry awards.

Illume Guides at Twitter's annual brand event

Twitter clearly understands the importance of word of mouth and its ripple effect to grow strong brands, a thinking in line with the beliefs of the ‘Experience Religion‘. This is one of the five schools of thought, or Brand Religions, we identified in the abundance of theories and frameworks available out there on how to grow strong brands.

Would you like to learn more about our brand-religion thinking? Download the free Brand Religions bookzine, or get in touch to learn what this could mean for your brand research.