With increasing numbers of people registering and managing their profiles in social networking websites, Twitter is one of the major microblogging services that have gained importance and enjoyed tremendous popularity over the years. Twitter currently has more than 100 million users worldwide. Twitter enables its users to send and read other users’ tweets. Tweets are message posts that are displayed and can be read on the author’s profile page. Although the famous social networking website has gained popularity worldwide, there has been disconnect between the consumers and marketers. The site still remains an important medium for understanding the customers’ needs; however brand marketers lack the knowledge and skills required to have meaningful conversations with them. They have failed to effectively tap the benefits for of the website. According to the research by the digital marketing firm 360i, a major difference between the limited conversations and how the consumers/marketers use twitter have created a wedge in the conversation. Rather than using it as a conversational tool, marketers continue to treat it like a megaphone.
According to the same survey, more than 90% of the tweets on the website are posted by consumers whereas marketers only contribute 8%. It is also interesting to more than only 12% of the consumer tweets talk about or mention a brand. When someone does mention a brand name, 22% of the time they’re talking about social networking, 17% technology and 17% entertainment. Celebrities, though comprising only 0.4% of the Twitter population, are a very influential audience. Their numbers of followers are much greater than that of the average consumer. A single tweet by a celebrity may result in millions of retweets.
The 360i study also reveals that consumers use Twitter to share ideas and indulge in conversations, with 43% of consumers engaging in two way communication. This shows that people often reply to other people’s tweets. However the study also reveals that marketers mostly miss chances to converse with people and become a part of the two way communication process. They tend to talk at people rather than to talk with them. Only a meagre 12% of the marketers’ tweets show any active conversation with consumers. According to Sarah Hofstetter, Senior Vice President of emerging media and brand strategy, brands do not take the opportunity of a regular conversation with consumers.
Of whatever tweets consumers post, 43% are conversational, 24% are status updates, 18% are in the category of ‘others’, 12% constitute news, 3% involve giving or seeking advice, and 1% are self promotional. Hofstetter further added that the biggest mistake a brand can make is setting up an account and making its presence known without keeping up with the campaign. It is suggested by Forrester Analyst Augie Ray that it is necessary for marketers to measure financial returns but shouldn’t ignore or overlook other important measures of social media success and contribution. Unless the potential of the consumer base of Twitter as a tremendously popular social networking website is efficiently understood, researched and captured by brand marketers, the disconnect will continue to prevail.