Twitter conversations: driving real impact for mobile apps

Friday, March 18, 2016
By: John Egan

This post is based on information originally shared by MoPub’s Head of Channel Partnerships, John Egan , during a keynote at the 4YFN venue at Mobile World Congress 2016 in Barcelona, and referenced during the Game Developers Conference this week in San Francisco.

Since MoPub’s acquisition by Twitter nearly two and a half years ago, we’ve often been asked how MoPub and Twitter complement each other. There are many ways that Twitter, MoPub, and our joint customers benefitted from the acquisition, but one interesting synergy that isn’t often addressed is the value of conversations happening on Twitter about mobile apps — and the opportunities that these conversations can present for mobile app developers.

People use Twitter to discuss their passions and to comment on what’s happening right now. These live, public conversations happen across countless different topics, ranging from pretty silly to really serious, but the common thread is that the topic matters to the individuals Tweeting about it. And mobile apps are one of the topics that inspire this type of passionate conversation on Twitter.

Here’s an example from my own feed. I was a pretty happy user of the Sunrise calendar app. A year ago, Sunrise was acquired by Microsoft, and then in October they posted this Tweet, which links to a post announcing that they won’t be making any more updates to the original app and are part of the team reinventing the Outlook app.

What’s powerful here is the quantity, depth, and passion of the responses from their users. That’s a lot of controversy for a calendar app.

Another example comes from USTwo , the gaming studio who created the very popular Monument Valley. This premium game sold for $3.99 initially; seven months later, USTwo released an expansion pack, which they charged an additional $1.99 to download. A small but vocal group of users were very upset that the new levels weren’t free and started voicing their displeasure by putting 1-star reviews in the app store. USTwo saw this behavior and Tweeted about it:


A few things then happened quickly. First, there was an impassioned debate on Twitter between users as to what they viewed as fair. Second, a group of Monument Valley players organized a drive to counteract the 1-star reviews with 5-star reviews in order to mitigate the potential damage.


Within minutes of USTwo’s Tweet, hundreds of people left 5-star reviews in support of the game. That’s powerful. The reaction was so polarized and vocal that gaming and mainstream media picked up the story and used it as an example of how mobile game players perceive value. This all stemmed from one Tweet — and the ensuing live (and lively) public conversation about one mobile app.

A final example comes from the mobile app Threes . This game came out two years ago, and the only social offering in the game is the ability to Tweet your score.

Over a few days, my timeline started featuring a lot of these 1:1 battles between people I follow, and it was so frequent and so vocal, that I ended up paying for the game myself based on the referral effect. I was so intrigued by this process that I got in contact with the developer, who told me what a critical role Twitter played in his audience growth by acting as a virtual leaderboard for Threes. It’s a fascinating concept — Twitter took what was a solo game and made it multiplayer, which then drew in an even larger audience.

There are a few important lessons for app developers here. It’s pretty clear that the mobile app ecosystem is a volatile place, so much so that Twitter conversations about apps can drive impact on traffic. For savvy app developers, Twitter can be a way to not only drive awareness and gather user feedback through conversations happening on the platform, but also to maximize monetization potential through MoPub as app traffic fluctuates in response to this viral chatter.

As we’ve discussed before , top apps rarely have lifecycles with steady and easily-foreseen climbs in traffic; instead, there are quick spikes and continual ups and downs. This is why MoPub’s primary focus of real-time bidding shines as a monetization solution for many app developers. It can easily scale demand up or down in parallel with changes in app traffic, and doesn’t require an app update to just take advantage of rapid growth. The flexibility of real-time bidding responds and adjusts to the dynamic nature of mobile app lifecycles — which makes us confident in the future of mobile programmatic and the continued growth we expect to see in this field.

For more examples and guidance, check out Fabric for Games , which launched last week!

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