Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
February 8, 2010 8:18 PM

Marketers Miss The Mark With Twitter

How long has it been since we had a, "Twitter is dead" article?

AdWeek published the article, The Tweet Hereafter, yesterday and it will probably make no sense to any Marketer who sees any of the Social Media platforms as something more than just another advertising channel.

"Like Second Life, Twitter has become a wasteland for brands. Verizon, a company that spent more than $1 billion on advertising in 2009, has around 5,000 followers -- about 0.3 percent the amount that Perez Hilton has. Coca-Cola has 15,000. Apple's not even on Twitter. And some corporate Twitter accounts suffer from prolonged neglect. Delta Airlines' Twitter page went from June 17 to Dec. 22 last year without a single update. Delta reps could not be reached for comment."

So, what's the message? If you're looking at trying to find a pure brand building or advertising channel to supplant what you're doing on television or in print, then Twitter may not be the best substitute. But, if you're trying to see what kind of conversation there is around your brand, the types of people interested in the industry you serve, the ideas, compliments and complaints that people have about your brand (and your industry), then why would you not be engaged on (or at least monitoring) Twitter?

Most of these articles completely miss the point.

Yes, people are hot on Twitter and something else will come along that will make people hotter (and those same people may even get fairly cold on Twitter), but every time the success of a channel/platform is judged it's always against how many people are on the platform (not who is on the platform), and if they're actually buying anything, instead of really taking the time to see the many different Marketing opportunities that lie within and just a little deeper.

Also, let's face it, most brands are boring on Twitter.

Ultimately, they're just trying to shill their wares and that gets old fast with the Twitter community. What does work? Real people having real interactions, and most brands are simply not doing this with the right people (on their end) and taking the time to truly nurture a valuable relationship. On top of that Twitter may not be the best Marketing channel for a brand, but what about customer service, business development, HR, public relations, etc... Bottom line, any Social Media channel (Twitter or otherwise) do work for Marketers if they're interesting and become interested in others.

Unfortunately, most Marketers look at Twitter and simply ask: "how can this help me push more product?"

It's a shame.

By Mitch Joel


Comments Comments Feed
  • Posted by Stephanie Grayson (@critiques4geeks)
    Stephanie Grayson (@critiques4geeks)

    Mitch- Great post, and you are exactly right. Not only on Twitter, but in life in general, anytime you enter into a situation or relationship with only "what's in it for me" on the brain, it's doomed from the start. Many marketers still need to learn this, especially when it comes to social media which offer such a wonderful opportunity to develop relationships, have interactive dialogue, etc, etc.

    Reply
  • Posted by Kneale Mann
    Mitch Joel

    I was speaking at the Ottawa Business Summit last week and many business owners questioned the validity of Twitter.

    We have the collective patience of a three year old. The search for instant guaranteed winning solutions won't subside any time soon.

    Patience is a virtue, not a business plan.

    Reply
  • Mitch Joel

    I find the incessant push to find ROI in Twitter equally proportionate to those who want to push more product. Where Twitter has been successful—in my experience, at least—is in communication.

    Reply
  • Posted by Peter Pallotta
    Mitch Joel

    Personally twitter to me feels like a broadcaster similar to T.V., boring! I prefer blogs because of the 'meat' and can't see twitter lasting too much longer. Having said that where I see twitter being useful is in customer relations and they should probably focus more on that.

    Reply
  • Posted by Kirk Skodis
    Mitch Joel

    Argh. If another article (like the AdWeek piece) cites Twitter numbers based on the website traffic, I'll scream. I don't know anyone who uses Twitter regularly via the website. Twitter is easily 50% (if not more) - a mobile phenomenon.

    Why is it so hard to measure the apps? I'm sure @loic will fork over his Seesmic stats if it bolsters the platform he's building upon.

    And the part in the AdWeek article about "launching a persona on Twitter" says volumes about what marketers are doing wrong. Scott Monty didn't launch his persona. He built his trusted network over time, then leveraged his post at Ford for growth - but never at the expense of his followers.

    You're exactly right, Mitch. Look at the brands who have "failed" on Twitter and you'll find tweets pushing promo's and press releases. The "anomaly" brands are the ones that engage and simply try to help.

    Reply
  • Posted by Janelle
    Mitch Joel

    I think what we need to remember is that many businesses use Twitter as part of an expensive marketing and communications strategy and at the end of the day they have to justify expenditure to those that sit in the golden chairs.

    I am a small freelance communications business, who occasionally offers my services to corporate organisations that need a short term position filled. Each time, I have to explain to them that there is no official or accurate ROI measurement for social media.

    I promptly get the response that I need to find one, as it needs to be justified financially if the marketer/comms professional is to be allowed to continue including it in their overall strategy.

    Unfortunately just because the marketer/comms person sees the value in brand exposure, transparency and discussion with your consumers on social media, does not mean all people in an organisation do, and that some need to know the dollar value in order to justify the expenditure.

    I personally see both sides of the argument.

    Reply
  • Posted by Linda
    Mitch Joel

    Mitch - I agree - makes me almost embarrassed to admit I'm a marketer. I think it reflects the reality that even though new tools are being used, they're not really being embraced, this using new things in old ways mentality is shortsighted (and just a tad selfish) at best.
    When will we be able to flip the enlightenment switch and have real change? When will we embrace using new things in new ways?
    For the life of me, I don't understand why this is such a difficult concept, perhaps because it's the age old challenge of innate resistance to change. Or is it just ego? Are people (marketers especially) just far more willing to talk than listen?
    I agree, it is a shame.
    I say marketers, ask not what twitter can do for you, but what you can do for twitter (and it's community)? And if you're not of that type of collaborative mindset, I'm okay with you not being there - let twitter numbers drop off, if those are the types who are leaving. To quote my nephew, my parting words to you are, "see ya, wouldn't want to be ya!"

    Reply
  • Posted by Anthony
    Mitch Joel

    Nice post, and pretty much spot on.

    The only thing I can think to add is that in my experience, it is response time that is the real killer for a corporate presence on twitter. When external communications are filtered through an approval process the ability to engage fully in a channel like twitter is very limited.

    Reply
  • Posted by Jon Buscall
    Mitch Joel

    This is why I think company logos are ineffective on Twitter. It's better to add the company logo to a face because people are personable. The added logo then gives context.

    It's more effective to listen to "Lisa from Dell" than just Dell.

    Reply
  • Posted by Jim Crocker
    Mitch Joel

    Want to get simple immediate benefit from Twitter? Don't (just) broadcast - search. I know an account rep who started tracking postings in his industry and got a new order in the FIRST HALF HOUR of getting set up on Tweetdeck. Now, the entire account organization is on Twitter. It's like a secret weapon. Everybody disses it. They just keep gathering opportunities.

    Reply
  • Posted by Alexa Samuels
    Mitch Joel

    Sure, companies go cold on Twitter. I mean, what's the value in connecting with customers? "Wasteland"? You reap what you sow. Nice post, Mitch.

    Reply
  • Posted by Phil Simon
    Mitch Joel

    Interesting post, Mitch. It seems to me that one size certainly doesn't fit all. My local food store is on Twitter:

    http://twitter.com/jacksfoodtown

    (I know...I couldn't believe it either but I suppose that it does make sense.)

    For them to engage the community here in NJ might be a bit tough. Yet, for them, letting people know about sales, specials, and the like might make sense.

    For Verizon to do the same, however, doesn't make as much sense. It seems like it's a fundamentally different business and, as such, the conversations would hardly be as simple as "$1.99 on eggs."

    Reply
  • Posted by Ian M Rountree
    Mitch Joel

    A couple of weeks ago, I put together a list of all the media here in Winnipeg that's on Twitter - and immediately unfollowed about two thirds of it.

    Naturally, all of the newspapers and television corporate channels were blasting ten to twenty tweets out in short spurts, because they publish in batches. Unfortunately, half of the accounts for their reporters did nothing but RT their companies - which leads to the assumption that these accounts are robots as well. How helpful is this? And I'm only following around 300 people.

    It's frustrating that articles like this call Twitter dead because of a lack of immediate commercial value for established brands. Yes, advertising is changing and yes, the new channels make way for opportunity - but only in the language of the channel.

    Saying Coca-Cola failing on Twitter means Twitter fails is like saying Superbowl ads fail because hockey fans aren't watching. It's narrow-minded and frustrating.

    Reply
  • Posted by Ron De Giusti
    Mitch Joel

    I personally hope Twitter is not dying. I love the medium.

    Twitter has become the way I surf the web! I skim thru comments written by people that talk about topics that interest me AND I hope that they have a link in their tweet so I can jump to a blog article to read more on what they tweeted about if it catches my interest.

    I don't surf thru Google anymore. Google is a research tool. I surf thru Twitter and gReader.

    Reply
  • Perfect Mitch.... You are correct.... when folks dont see an immediate ROI there gone.... I have friends who I turned onto twitter.... and quickly they lose steam... What people dont understand is all this stuff is being archived, and at some point there will be some smart guy from MIT that aggregate your social footprint online, and you will be judged on "total footprint" bu som algorithm... I think I just provided a great idea for a product... :) Best, Brian-

    Reply
  • Posted by David Lawyer
    Mitch Joel

    Absolutely right. The thing with Twitter, and the same went for Second Life was the "new kid on the block" thing. The possibility of the next big thing and by thundar, me and my company will be the first to use it to conquer the known free world! I think after the newness and hype of Twitter wears off, companies will take more time to really try to understand what makes the most sense for their business, their products and/or services. And not try to force feed Twitter with their press releases, promotions and what not. I'd rather hear what Shaq or LeBron did after beating up on the Lakers! :)

    Reply
  • Posted by Inder Krishen Wali
    Mitch Joel

    It is very simple Mitch, hope you have heard an old saying we call "Sour Grapes"...!
    Please understand the manner in which the various types of Media have grown and penetrated our daily life, similarly the style and layout of Advertising has also changed over the centuries. In the beginning we had only the Newspapers and pamphlets. The design and layout were completely different. Then came the Radio. The style of advertising changed. With the advent and introduction of TV in Black and white form the style again improved. Then came the color TV and the style had a revolutionary change.
    Similarly with the introduction of the Social Media on the Net , yet another tool for advertising; the rules of the game need to be tailored, customized and personalized accordingly.
    Just because, Verizon, Coca Cola and Delta could not get the targeted no. of followers it doesn't mean the Twitter is useless. Is it not possible that they could not operate proficiently so well on the Twitter, in order to get the desired results? They could have changed the style every month to attract attention and the followers. Moreover how can they claim that they could not translate those expenses into meaningful business? Did they conduct a survey at the Point of Purchase, how many of their clients were influenced by their activities on the Twitter? No, Surely No…! On such Corporate Websites there are several people who do surf for sake of information but certainly that doesn’t mean that all those persons would have logged on as a registered regular follower unless they were attracted by the approach and technique used. That’s where Jon Buscall is right when he says that, it is better and more effective to listen to “Lisa from Dell” than just “Dell”. Mere mention of Lisa will help in adding life to this tool of communication with your potential prospects at whom it is more directed at...! There are chances that psychologically then more will be the no. of prospects who would like to be part of the conversation because it brings in some sort of life. And the number of followers would grow dramatically. Similarly there could many more dimensions of the layout that could be researched and modified to bring zing and life into the tool.
    We have to understand; it is a new concept and hence requires completely different approach not only to navigate the tool effectively through the huge traffic of potential customers but also to create a veritable punch in the minds of the regular customers, prospective customers and also the regular customers of our competitors. Now, to calculate the ROI for those expenses you have got to get connected with your clients directly at the POP level and comprehend the effectiveness and extent of reach our concept has made on the sub-conscience level of our prospects.

    Reply
  • Posted by Beth Harte
    Mitch Joel

    Mitch, it's simple.

    You are referring to marketers who work for sales-oriented companies with a "if we build it, they will come" mentality. They NEED TO PUSH because they have no other option to get products/services out the door and to meet the demands of their sales ("Where are my leads?? I need to sell this or I don't get paid!")/finance ("We just spent millions based on your 'gut.' That money better be recouped!") teams.

    If the marketers and their employers were market-oriented, they would already be marketing products THEY KNOW their market wants and is willing to buy. When you are market-oriented, you can spend less time pushing and more time doing other things that matter most to customers and potential customers. Like customer support, product develop based on feedback, outside-in marketing and communications, etc.

    Beth Harte
    www.theharteofmarketing.com
    @bethharte

    Reply
  • Posted by Beth Harte
    Mitch Joel

    P.S. To my point...Look at Southwest's Twitter activity and interaction. They are quite successful. ;-)

    Reply
  • Posted by Kristina
    Kristina

    Great post and so true! When I am interested in a company or professional, I almost immediately search for Twitter presence. Look, in marketing, you want to push a product (or cause) to a consumer. That means getting in touch with the consumer, keeping up with real-time convo, LISTENING to them -- not just hearing them. A company that takes the time to do this and know what the consumer actually is saying is a step forward. Think of Twitter as long-term, sustainable ROI.

    Reply
  • Posted by Traci Browne
    Mitch Joel

    Yes Mitch it is a shame. I was lurking last night on #pr20chat and kept shaking my head and saying you guys still just don't get it.

    Q2 Did SuperBowl advertisers miss PR opportunities by not incorporating social media into commercials?

    Some answers...
    I think people are tired of the stupid commericals - so yes. Adding social media would have made them stand out (what so now we can get tired of stupid commercials using social media to shout at us?)

    In my opinion, I think any brand from this point on that doesn't incorporate a SM call-to-action is missing the boat (welcome aboard...you missed that boat too)

    Def. think SB advtrs missed out by not including SM call to action. Could have easy promo"Tweet this message to win..."

    And they just kept coming!

    You can read them at http://bit.ly/aN9M1q

    Reply
  • Yes, it's a shame indeed. But how to convince marketers to take a risk on the unconventional? There's no metric for "interesting".

    Reply
  • Posted by Ric Dragon
    Mitch Joel

    I don't think its unreasonable for marketers to go through some phases on this Twitter stuff. After all, there isn't really a playbook on this stuff (lots of great books, just not play book, per se).

    In the beginning, we figured the only way Twitter was going to make a difference was to build up a big following, and gee, what is the process for that? Then we figured out (at least some of us did), that the size of your following isn't what matters (sounds like a crude joke coming, but really!).

    So, how is a big brand to use this nifty media? Its evolving, for sure. The brands that are throwing the baby out with the bath water are really missing out, though.

    Reply
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