Inside the discovery mindset on Twitter — and what it means for brands

A new study by Twitter and Publicis Media reveals the best platforms for discovering content and connecting with brands.

The amount of time that people spend on social media during an average day has been steadily rising over the past six years,1 with the majority of users spending at least two hours a day on social platforms. Social media may have started out as a way for friends and family to keep up with one another, but it has since evolved far beyond that. Because every social media platform brings something unique to the table, most consumers use multiple platforms in order to get everything they need.

In 2018, Twitter collaborated with Publicis Media to deepen our understanding of the discovery mindset — how consumers discover content on social media. Along with our research partners, Firefish and The Numbers Lab, we surveyed nearly 1,500 users of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube to identify what impact brands can expect when advertising in these environments. We wanted to know what makes each platform’s environment unique, and how brands can capitalize on these differences.

Social sites have become “go to” resources for people to get entertainment, news, and information on a wide range of topics. People also turn to different social media platforms to fill a variety of discovery-related needs; Facebook and Instagram are “look at me” platforms great for keeping up with family, friends, and trends. YouTube is where people learn how to do new things. Twitter is a “look at this” platform where people go to connect with what’s happening in the world around them.

Infographic showing the purpose of users on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Youtube.

Leaned-in and emotionally connected

One of the core traits of a discovery mindset is an openness to new ideas or new information. Universally, we found that brands running video ads on social media saw shifts in brand perceptions among consumers and that people who see in-feed video ads are more likely to consider taking brand actions. When surveyed again two weeks after being exposed to video ads, 89% of people who had made a purchase recalled seeing the ads.

When it comes to Twitter specifically, our study found that people are more likely to remember the ads they’ve seen on Twitter and to take action as a result. They are more likely to look for additional information about that product or brand and they’re far more likely to share what they find with friends. And because Twitter is the place where people go to talk to the brands they love, they’re more likely to reach out directly to the advertiser with questions or concerns than on other major platforms.1 Nearly three-quarters of those surveyed say having an active Twitter presence makes a brand feel both more human and more trustworthy.

Infographic showing how Twitter users interact and engage with brands they see ads for on Twitter.

That combination of increased ad recall and a greater sense of connection helps to change brand perceptions and drive purchases. Watching video ads on Twitter was more effective in shifting brand perceptions and had a greater influence on people's buying decisions than watching video ads on other social platforms. Two weeks post-exposure, we found that those who saw the ad on Twitter were 32% more likely to have made a purchase from the advertiser than those who saw the same ad on the other platforms.2

The study also demonstrates the important role Twitter plays in helping brands build relationships with customers and create memorable experiences for them. Twitter’s influential audience is always ready to take action, as the study shows, and Twitter ads effectively influence future purchases.2

Infographic showing how users on Twitter are influenced by ads.


Twitter and Publicis Media partnered to explore the Discovery Mindset and its impact on brand advertising, utilizing Firefish and The Numbers Lab to conduct the research, collate results, and interpret them. The study involved two stages of qualitative surveys, where researchers conducted 15 in-person interviews on a range of topics (beauty and fashion, quick service restaurants, movies and entertainment). This was followed by three quantitative studies, including two online surveys conducted 24 hours apart with 1,490 participants, and a brief follow-up survey two weeks later involving 890 participants.

1. According to Global Web Index (Q4 2018)
2. Compared to average of other social media platforms (Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube), statistical significance at 95%

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