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The Give-and-Take of the Importance of Twitter


Since 2009 or so, anytime you check the online conversation about most brands you’ve likely found that most conversations come from Twitter. A spot-check of five brands I monitor Sunday night showed no fewer than 90% of all online conversations coming from the micro-blogging platform.

On the surface, it appears that Twitter is critically important to the social and conversational health of a brand. But here are questions I’ve started asking in relation to the brands we work with:

  1. How truly relevant are the conversations found?

    One brand I checked had a 13,000-tweet spike on one day in September. I checked to see what happened. The vast majority of the “conversations” were re-tweets of promotional links back to that company’s website by affiliates. There was no true conversation. No one was saying anything about the brand. It was just someone pimping its products. While this is good, it’s also biasing the social data quite a bit.

  2. What conversations are we not seeing?

    Forget the fact that most conversation points on Facebook aren’t indexed my social monitoring crawlers, how many forums and message boards – yes, they still exist and are still critically important – are also “no follow” sites that Google and other spiders can’t see? And then there’s “Dark Social” or conversations about you shared from person-to-person via email or text message never seen by anyone other than the user. Bottom line: There’s a lot out there we don’t know. Twitter is so open yet other areas are so closed, the difference is also biasing the social data.

  3. Is there value in the broadcast nature of Twitter now?

    Many of my colleagues in the social media space long for the days when Twitter was fun. You used to be able to jump in and have conversations with just about anyone. Now, it seems the stream is a never-ending list of promotional links and ticker-like news from celebrities and brands. It’s like the social media version of the stock ticker. You have to know what you’re looking for and be looking at the right time to get anything out of it. That leads me to believe a lot of people might look at Twitter but not really see your Tweets. And that biases the data, too.

Granted, I’m not suggesting we give up on Twitter. The brand I mentioned earlier gets a lot of referral traffic from the network which does convert into sales and revenue. Several clients we work with at Elasticity have seen leads and conversions from targeted, strategic Twitter campaigns and content under our watch.

But as the social consumer evolves, as Facebook becomes more and more ubiquitous and ultimately useful as a communications platform and as Twitter keeps on failing to innovate its user experience, brands everywhere need to revisit its purpose and usefulness in the span of your marketing activities.

Ask yourself these questions regularly:

  • Do we have a focused content strategy on Twitter?
  • What results are we trying to induce from our audience there?
  • At what rate are we successful?
  • Is that rate or volume changing?

The answers to these questions will help you fine-tune your use of Twitter and keep the network as productive as it can be for your brand.

So, what volume of conversation about your brand happens on Twitter? Are you achieving measurable success from your Twitter activity? We’d love to hear about it in the comments.

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