How to Improve Your Sucky Ideas While Targeting Customers


If you’re among those small business owners feeling guilty for wasting time on Twitter when you could be doing real work, relax. Just chill. It turns out that engaging on the micro-blogging site may actually be helping users become more innovative. Equally important, the company’s year-old data collection efforts could give brand advertisers a leg up on their competition, especially if they’re marketing mobile apps.

Citing a study at MIT, a recent article on states that Twitter engagement “could help the users become more innovative with their pool of ideas. The study found that the quality of ideas delivered by Twitter users at a workplace was better than their non-user counterparts.”

And although both groups generated ideas, “the ideas from Twitter users were highly appreciated and rated positively by the experts. Given the fact that the raters judged the ideas purely on its merit without having any knowledge about the source, it was clear that engaging smartly on Twitter can help one generate better innovative ideas.”

Just as important was the discovery that networks with a low “compactness ratio,” in which most of the users were not connected with one another, “were better for ideation while the network with high compactness ratio provides outdated information which is generally correlated negatively with ideation.” Not surprising, since it confirms the notion that having a diverse network of users leads to better ideas than those derived from a network of the like-minded.

Of course, simply engaging with a diverse group of people on Twitter does not guarantee you’ll be successful as an innovator. What’s critical is that you share your ideas and opinions with people outside your organization, who can challenge your thinking and give you pause to consider additional perspectives—some of which may find their way back into your business.

In addition to impacting your ideas, it’s worth noting that Twitter has stepped its game up in the area of paid advertising. After struggling to compete with Facebook and Google, Twitter began collecting its users’ smart phone data late last year as part of an effort to bolster its advertising options.

The company is not only studying customer behavior within its own app, but also learning from the apps they download, according to a recent article in Forbes. That means the social network will not only be using the data to learn about its users, but to actually deliver more relevant ads.

“This move is designed to improve the experience for brand advertisers, giving them access to information about the site’s users,” the article states. “By knowing the types of apps the site’s users download, advertisers can more accurately target them based on their interests. The move will be especially beneficial for businesses with apps, allowing those businesses to more easily locate users who are likely to be interested in downloading the apps they’re creating.”

To make it happen, Twitter is leveraging a feature that was built into both iOS and Android devices, enabling developers to scan devices for other installed apps. While Twitter claims it will only collect data on the apps themselves—not specific activities taking place within the apps—most smart phone users have no idea such data collection is even possible, let alone taking place. Those who are concerned about the information being collected have the ability to opt-out, but since the feature is turned on by default, few are expected to deactivate it, which should ensure the integrity of the data being collected and provide app marketers a distinct advantage.

Beyond Twitter, we can expect other companies to follow suit, exploiting the same feature in iOS and Android to directly target customers and prospects. While this emerging trend may sound invasive from a consumer’s perspective, it spells good news for marketers, who can expect Twitter’s app data collection to yield better targeting for every ad dollar they spend.

Looking ahead, the idea that you’ve been ‘wasting time” on Twitter probably seems a little short-sighted now. From idea development to targeted advertising, the platform offers an obvious, significant value to small business owners. But it also ties in with a marketing mega-trend that anyone selling a product or service must be aware of: By 2020, the amount of information on the web is expected to shoot up some 600% (at least).

With so much content competing for our attention across the social media spectrum, having the ability to target and filter information according to our likes and needs will be increasingly important for small business users. As the “quick hit” social platform of choice, Twitter benefits from not asking too much of its users (as opposed to, say, Facebook, which overwhelms users with content), delivering meaningful interaction with a full spectrum of business users whose ideas and contributions offer value, and then providing users with a smart system for targeted ad delivery.

All in all, there are worse ways to spend your time.