Figures released today reveal that it’s online media sites that are the main benefactor of Twitter’s phenomenal growth over the past year. Hitwise UK’s figures reveal that while Twitter users love to click on links to entertainment, social networks and news; retail sites are barely on their radar.
During May this year 55.9% of UK traffic from Twitter went to content-driven online media sites whereas only 9.5% of traffic went to retail. This difference is in stark contrast to traffic from Google UK, which was much more evenly distributed among different types of site.
So why is Twitter so beneficial for media outlets and not so good for retailers? The answer lies in the type of community Twitter has developed. Twitter users love to share news, interesting blog posts and funny videos but ‘selling’ is still seen as a dirty word.
Hitwise’s figures put Twitter’s growth at 93% this year so far, based solely on access to its web interface. Traffic from third party clients like Tweetdeck will account for an even greater increase in usage. With such a popular service freely available marketers have tried to directly make money via Twitter but many have failed.
Twitter is a minefield for businesses used to talking ‘at’ customers. Now the customers can talk back, meaning traditional mass-marketing won’t work. Just look at the trouble UK retailer Habitat got into this week for an example of how easy it is to get Twitter marketing wrong. The hoards of ‘Affiliate Marketers’, who follow thousands of people with the aim of getting money from affiliate links to online stores, don’t help the Twitter-based marketer’s cause.
Some businesses, such as Dell, have managed to use their Twitter accounts to drive sales but it may just be that for most businesses Twitter will always a place for discussing products and building reputations. Thrust a product in your followers’ faces and you’ll most likely lose out.