Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Why Brands are Hesitant to Utilize Twitter

I hosted and presented during a webinar for PR News yesterday about Twitter. It was a great line-up of social-media-minded folks from various industries. According to the organizers, there was over 400 location's signed up and on average, there are three to five folks listening in per site. The list of participating organizations ranged from government types, non-profits, consumer brands, b2b brands, etc.

As the moderator of the event, it was partly my job to answer questions on the fly and interact with each of the speakers. As the webinar began, the questions started flying in. They were all across the board, to specifics per the industry of the participant to the basics like online resources to further education on social media.

However, five questions came through loud and clear that made me take a step back and think, "so, THIS is why there doesn't seem to be a large adoption of Twitter by brands."

Those questions were:

  1. How do I use Twitter for marketing purposes?

  2. Who from my organization should be doing it?

  3. How much time should I spend on Twitter?

  4. How do I measure it's effectiveness?

  5. Who in our organization should own it?
There are various schools of thought as it relates to all these questions, but here are my thoughts:

How do I use Twitter for use it to marketing purposes?
Ask yourself this? Does your organization have audiences it markets to? I'm guessing the answer is yes. Well, your audience is online and more often than not, are on Twitter. Simply put, use Twitter to build stronger relationships with your audiences. You can use it to address customer service concerns. You can use it to cultivate new sales prospects. You can use it to connect with media influencers. The audience connection opportunities are endless.

Who should be Twittering for your organization?
This is probably the easiest question of the lot in my opinion. Just like with your media opportunities, you should know who are the "voices" of your organization. Whether it's your CEO, CFO, PR Director, Admissions Director or Customer Service rep, each have their specific audiences that they can interact with on Twitter. I suggest segmenting your Twitter marketing per audience and determine who is the best person from your organization to have those conversations.

How much time should I spend on Twitter? I find this question almost comical. I'd answer that question with another question. How time should you spend marketing to your audiences? Get the point?

How do I measure its effectiveness? This is a little tougher to answer. It is not as cut and dry as say, website visitors. Yes, you can measure followers. However, the real juice is engagement. How many Twitterers retweeted posts? How often are your followers replying to your Twitter posts? The one to one engagement is where the rubber meets the road and can get customers to take action more so than any direct mail piece can.

Who in our organization should own it?
This is also an easy question in my opinion. Everyone should own Twitter. The key here is that whomever is Twitter on behalf of your organization, it should be done in a coordinated way and through the messaging prism you have set up for the rest of your marketing initiatives.

These questions - almost two years since Twitter's launch - show the uncertainty that brands still have in embracing it as a marketing and communications tool. My answers should get you asking, why aren't WE on Twitter?


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