Twitter Disconnect Between Marketers And Consumers

Posted on July 27, 2010

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Consumers don't play well with Marketers on Twitter.

Online Media daily- Brand marketers still lack the skills and the knowledge to effectively tap Twitter to have a meaningful conversation with consumers. The site remains an important tool for listening to consumers and becoming more familiar with their needs, but a striking difference on how the two use Twitter and the limited conversations create a wedge in the conversation, according to research released Tuesday from digital marketing firm 360i.

People — not companies — continue to tweet, according to the six-month study from 360i. More than 90% of tweets come from consumers, and marketers only authorize 8%. Only 12% of consumer tweets mention a brand. When someone mentions a brand name on Twitter, about 22% of the time they are talking about a social network; 17%, entertainment; and 17%, technology. Twitter is the top brand mentioned on the site with 34% of mindshare, followed by Apple at 22% and Google at 15%.

Celebrities comprise a small portion — 0.4% — of the population on Twitter, but their reach is far greater than that of the average consumer, making them a small but very influential audience. The average consumer may have 300 followers, but a top celebrity has 300,000 or more. One tweet by a celebrity can turn into millions of retweets (RTs).

Consumers use Twitter to share ideas, but marketers can damage a brand if they choose to turn the tool into a megaphone rather than a conversation. The study suggests that marketers tend to talk “at” people rather than “with” them, missing an opportunity to become part of the conversation. The six-month study from 360i reveals that 43% of consumer tweets are conversational — replies to other people tweeting. Yet only 12% of marketers’ tweets demonstrate active dialogue with consumers. Surprisingly, 1% of consumer tweets that mention a brand are the result of a conversation with that brand.

Twitter is a reflection of daily discussions between consumers, but brands are trying to pepper their way into the conversation. Brands have the opportunity to step in, but many are not taking advantage of it, according to Sarah Hofstetter, 360i’s senior vice president of emerging media and brand strategy. “When it’s done correctly, a lot of great original content gets created,” she says.

Marketers can have a voice, but Twitter remains a tool mostly for listening to consumers in an unfiltered, un-moderated environment. Listening allows brands to better get to know existing and potential customers. In fact, 94% of tweets are personal, 92% of people on Twitter keep their tweets public, and 85% of tweets reflect original content rather than retweets (RT).

When consumers have conversations on Twitter, 43% are conversational; followed by 24%, status updates; 18%, other, 12%, news; 3%, seeking or giving advice; and 1%, self promotional. Hofstetter says the biggest mistake a brand can make is setting up an account, making its presence known and not keeping up with the campaign. “Let’s say you go to a party and strike up a conversation,” she says. “The other person starts talking, but you just walk away.”

Twitter users are more comfortable sharing some personal information, but not all. About 70% of people post a picture of themselves and 66% give their location. Most don’t share specifics on their age or job/career, according to the study.

Hofstetter says brands need to set goals and key performance indicators to measure the return on investment (ROI). Dell does a great job of promoting products. They do a good job if their objective is sales of limited-inventory items. Compare that with Old Spice, which used Twitter as an amplification tool to get their brand talked about more.

Marketing investments in social media continue to increase, but marketers still struggle with methods for validating these investments, according to Forrester Research. Some rely on ROI as a means of proving social contributions, but many benefits delivered by social media are not easily measured in dollars and cents.

In the recent report, “The ROI of Social Media Marketing,” Forrester Analyst Augie Ray suggests marketers need to measure financial return but shouldn’t overlook other vital measures of social media success and contribution. Some of the methods Ray believes are important include developing a social media marketing Balanced Scorecard as part of the POST process, removing financial measures that are not direct and attributable, and eliminating use of the “ROI” unless you are referencing financial returns.

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