Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
August 11, 2010 9:52 AM

Brands Are Terrible At Twitter (Brands Are Terrific At Twitter)

If only 16% of all brand tweets on Twitter are conversational, would you say that brands are totally screwing it up?

BizReport just published a news item titled, Only 16% of brand Tweets are conversational. If you only read the title of the article, you probably had the same initial reaction I had: "Whoa, how badly do brands suck on Twitter?" Admit it, that's exactly what went through your brain. The news item goes on to say: "Does this mean that brands on Twitter need to converse more with their Followers? I don't believe so. Previous research found the primary reasons consumers follow a brand on the microblogging platform are to find out about new products, receive discounts and promotions and keep abreast of company news. However, some believe that in order to get the most from Twitter brands ought to be actively conversing with their Followers."

Your Twitter experience is not my Twitter experience.

Your definition of engagement is different from my definition of engagement. Admittedly, I wanted to kick myself for immediately thinking that this statistic means that brands are not doing the right thing on Twitter. But, there could be another side to this statistic too. The majority of people don't even understand (or know) what having a conversation with a brand means. Through the affects of mass media and a pure consumption relationship when it comes to brands, marketing and advertising over the past decades, it would be interesting to see what percentage of the global population even knows that some brands are now open to dialogue, and that if you did ask them a question online (be it on Twitter or somewhere else) that there is a distinct possibility you will get a response. It's important to remember that Social Media is still fairly nascent and that Twitter (even with all of it's growth) is still something only a small number of the population uses and fully understands.

You can speak back to people?

On a recent episode of Howard Stern, the crew was berating Robin Quivers for her tweets (that's part of the shtick). At one point, Stern asks Quivers if she engages in conversations with her followers, to which Quivers responded something like "no, I don't even know what you're talking about." Quivers (and the majority of people who hop on Twitter to simply follow celebrities and brands) are either consuming tweets from those they follow, or broadcasting mini messages out into the world (take a quick glance at Robin Quiver's Twitter feed and you'll note that there are not any @ sign tweets). Then, there are those who deep-dive into Twitter and get zero value out of it unless they're deeply embedded in the conversational aspects of the platform.

You're missing out of the conversation if all you're doing is broadcasting.

It's fair to say that brands that are simply broadcasting their mass media messages into Twitter are missing a huge opportunity to connect, engage and humanize their brand. It's fair to say that brands who don't take advantage of this new platform to do something different with their messaging - rather than simply regurgitating the same thing everywhere - are also not taking full advantage of this new marketing platform. It's also fair to say that brands who are simply tweeting about new products, discounts, promotions and corporate news but who are actively acquiring more and more followers are doing something right that works for them too.

So, what do you think: is having only 16% of all brand tweets being conversational a good or bad thing?

By Mitch Joel


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