Copyright Aaron Durand (@everydaydude) for Twitter, Inc.
In the face of stagnant user growth and decreased advertiser spend, Twitter is scrambling to attract new users to its platform, which over the past few years has failed to ignite excitement among millennials who would rather spend their time on messaging apps, Instagram and Snapchat.
The social platform is now betting big on live video to grab the attention of potential new users. Earlier this year, it snagged a $10 million deal with the NFL to stream 10 of the league’s Thursday night games. But it’s also rolling out other features in an effort to make Twitter more video-centric. Last week, it announced the launch of Instant Unlock Card, a tool that gives users access to exclusive content if they interact with a brand’s tweet. Check out this explainer video:
— Twitter Advertising (@TwitterAds) August 4, 2016
The feature is an extension of Twitter’s ‘conversational ads,’ which were launched earlier this year and allow brands to include call-to-action buttons within their tweets to drive engagement. For example, a pet supply store could ask users if they’re #TeamCat or #TeamDog, prompting users to reply via the call-to-action buttons. Once a user clicks on a button, a tweet appears that includes that brand’s message and imagery, which the user can then personalize before sending out to followers.
According to Twitter, the Instant Unlock Card builds on conversational ads by “incentivizing users to tweet by offering access to exclusive content (e.g., a film’s trailer or an exclusive Q&A) after the tweet is sent.”
AMC participated in beta testing of the Instant Unlock Card to promote its hit series The Walking Dead during San Diego Comic-Con last month. By creating an exclusive trailer only available on Twitter via the Unlock Card, fans were forced to interact with The Walking Dead’s tweet if they wanted a sneak peak.
TechCrunch says the Instant Unlock Card could be a promising new tool for Twitter since it “is something that could spur Twitter’s user base to interact with the service more often. But more importantly, it could potentially even push people to sign up for a Twitter account, if they were interested in viewing the content from the brand in question.
“In addition to the possibility of giving users a reason to tweet, the new ad also capitalizes on the type of activity brands try to encourage anyway — that is, to have people tweeting and sharing their message with their friends and Twitter’s wider network,” TechCrunch added.
But The Next Web argues that the new ad format “sounds a lot like legitimizing clickbait” since Twitter “isn’t putting any checks in place to make sure the unlocked content remains true to the original promise.”
“But perhaps the bigger issue is that brands don’t have to actually earn your share,” The Next Web continued. “They could promise you a cool trailer, but what if it ends up being completely dull and boring? Well, it doesn’t matter – you’ve already retweeted the brand’s message. Sure, you could delete your tweet after watching, but who’s actually going to do that?”
The tool could end up being a boon for entertainment brands who have large social followings and fan bases, but could be trickier for companies who might not have anything truly “exclusive” to offer — at least not exclusive enough to convince users to shout about a brand on social in exchange for a piece of content. While brands could use the Unlock Card to give users a first look at a product launch or access to behind-the-scenes footage, Twitter will still have to compete with other platforms that offer exclusive content opportunities, like Snapchat and Facebook Live.