Is it Really Worthwhile to Market on Twitter?

May 4, 2010

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A new study by Edison Research provides a complex and multi-layered picture of Twitter – along with some interesting data points that suggest it may not be worthwhile for some companies to focus their online marketing efforts on the micro-blogging site.

This, of course, contradicts other studies – at least about social media, not necessarily Twitter – as well as what has become conventional wisdom on how to advance a brand,?according?to MarketingVOX.The other studies include a small but now infamous study by Vitrue that found one fan on Facebook is worth $3.60 and a Facebook Page with one million fans is worth a minimum of $3.6 million in earned media annually.Then there is a study by, which found that many B2C and B2B companies are successfully using social media networks to acquire customers, with more than four in 10 companies overall having acquired a customer from four major social media channels.

Brand Aware
The Edison study doesn’t discount the popularity of Twitter – in fact it reports that 87% of respondents have heard of Twitter, compared to 88% who had heard of Facebook. The findings also suggest that Twitter users are hyper-aware of brands on Twitter. The study found that 42% learn about products and services via Twitter and 41% provide opinions about products/services. An additional 19% seek customer support. A grand total of 49% follow brands or companies.

“Twitter users talking about marketing and brands far exceeds the usage on the other social networks,” said Tom Webster, the VP of Strategy & Marketing at Edison (via Social Media Today).”Combined with their above average income and above average education, Twitter users’ propensity to interact with brands make them a huge potential source for Mass Influencers,” Social Media Today concludes.

Does Not Convert into Interaction
Here is the rub: the data also suggests that Twitter users do not necessarily convert brand awareness to usage, Social Media Today says. Although 87% of Americans have heard of Twitter – only 7% actually use it. Compare that to Facebook, where 88% have heard of it, and 41% have a profile, which is a conversion rate approaching 50%, Social Media Today notes.Clearly some companies belong on Twitter – namely brands that are seeking to shape consumers’ opinions and possibly engage them in a conversation.

Who Shouldn’t
And just as clearly some companies don’t belong on Twitter – or at least shouldn’t be spending a significant portion of their marketing budget on it. These include:

Companies that don’t have a mobile strategy or presence.
There is a strong tie between Twitter and mobile, Social Media Today notes, with 63% of Twitter users accessing social networks via mobile phone, and 73% sending SMS text messages multiple times per day.

Mass-market brands with straightforward products.
Gillette is a good example, says Fast Company. Brands such as Gillette that are positioned based on functionality superiority are not likely to benefit from a social campaign, according to a study by Vivaldi-Lightspeed.

In that study, 96% of respondents in the study tout Gillette’s good quality and reliability. At that point, Gillette should take that goodwill and run, the study goes on to say.”Conversation might lead to a discussion of downsides such as price and alternative products,” says Markus Zinnbauer, a director Vivaldi. (via Fast Company).

Small businesses that don’t have a significant online or social media presence.
That group is far larger than one might realize, according to a recent Citigroup study.? Most small businesses today aren’t leveraging the basic online tools readily available to them to help grow their businesses, the study found.

Namely, in the last year 37% of small businesses have not used a website for marketing or expanding their business and 84% have not used e-commerce to sell their products or services. Additionally, 62% aren’t using basic email for marketing their business.Before such a company jumps on the Twitter bandwagon it would be far better off to master these fundamental online marketing tools – particularly email marketing. Local reputation tools such as Yelp would be the exception.

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