Is Twitter a Branding Wasteland?

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.