Is Twitter a Branding Wasteland?

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According to an analysis* by digital agency 360i, Twitter users have little interest in your brand. Examining tweets, 360i found that of 90 percent of messages sent by "real people" (non-businesses) just 12 percent even mention a brand and most of those are about Twitter itself.

Even worse, only 1 percent of tweets that do mention a brand are part of an active conversation with that brand. In other words, Twitter users are not engaging in the "conversation" with brands on Twitter.

What are the brands being mentioned? In order of frequency: Twitter, Apple, Google, Youtube, Microsoft, Blackberry, Amazon, Facebook, Snuggie, eBay and Starbucks. And that's because of the culture behind the conversations taking place - Snuggie, for instance - not necessarily because of anything the brand is doing on Twitter.

One clue as to why there is little in the way of conversational marketing on Twitter is this stat: only 12 percent of messages from marketers are directed at individual users, meaning that the rest are broadcast/press-release style messages. Viewed in another way, it could mean there is a good opportunity there to reach out to individual consumers who you believe are influential among their followers.

It appears that brands are misguided if they think they are currently developing relationships with consumers on Twitter. It also appears that a long-held belief of Twitter marketing is holding true - that marketers are marketing to each other. That's not necessarily a bad thing, just that if you want to cozy up to your consumers, Twitter might not be the place.

Looking for a silver lining? Just 7 percent of tweets mentioning brands indicated negative sentiment. Although, just 11 percent are positive.

Twitter remains useful - as a place to discover breaking news, keep tabs on your industry's sentiment or to see what your competitors are doing. Just be realistic with your expectations.

*360i analyzed more than 1,800 tweets published between October 1, 2009 and March 31, 2010. Spam was removed from the sample and not counted in the final analysis.

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6 comments

Crystal 07-29-2010 5:38 AM

I have a completely different take on this. The fact that 12% of tweets from individuals mention a brand is huge!

I also think that the statistic cited: "12 percent of messages from marketers are directed at individual users" is in line with what should be expected. If businesses restricted their tweeting to just reach out to consumers, then they'd be accused of not being present unless their was a brand issue. I think it's a healthy balance.

Mike Phillips 07-29-2010 8:44 AM

@PatP - I think the 12% of tweets mentioning brands would be significant if not for the brands mentioned. Of that 12% mentioned:

35% is Twitter

22% is Apple

15% is Google.

That's nearly three-quarters of those tweets mentioning brands wrapped up in three companies. In other words, the brands being mentioned are big brands - not your regular businesses.

Full study is here: http://bit.ly/diVgL2

Christian Wilson 07-30-2010 2:37 PM

I know that is not true for my customers as one of them just sent me your article I found it interesting.  I have several customers that generate at least 3 to 5 conversations a week if not more about there brand or some type of product inquiry. As Usual statistical Data can be spun either way. As far as negative and positive sentiment I question the validity because most of the highest rated analytical programs that do this. Including the one I use for my customers make mistakes and take a positive and turn it into a negative and vice-versa? depending on the words they use.

Great article though Mike!!! :)

JudyB 07-31-2010 9:25 AM

My standing opinion of Twitter -  "The message is lost in the madness!"

Website Consulting 08-03-2010 4:41 PM

This a great point..."Twitter remains useful - as a place to discover breaking news, keep tabs on your industry's sentiment or to see what your competitors are doing."

And I just tweeted this article. :)

Tony V

Jeff G. 03-14-2013 11:44 AM

I knew that Twitter was bad for brands cause people don't really pay attention to the tweets about brands but had no idea about this point "Even worse, only 1 percent of tweets that do mention a brand are part of an active conversation with that brand. In other words, Twitter users are not engaging in the "conversation" with brands on Twitter."  That's insane. Twitter is really only useful for people that want to hear how "ole buddy joe" is doing down the street or if he is 'outside cutting grass'.

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