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This article was published on August 18, 2011

Twitter users are more likely to impact your brand than any other social network

Twitter users are more likely to impact your brand than any other social network

Now, more than ever, is the time for brands and companies to begin understanding how the chaotic and real-time world of Twitter can massively influence the ways in which consumers perceive them.

With so many different channels of communication and new social networks popping up every other day, it’s not difficult to see why brands tend to miss the mark when it comes to efficiently using individual marketing platforms for their intended purpose. For example, although Facebook is obviously a social networking tool, the majority of consumers who use Facebook are not quite the same as Twitter users when it comes to influencing the general public about a brand.

Twitter users are an entirely different breed of consumers and need to be treated as such if a brand hopes to succeed on the platform.

How do I figure?

In a recent report from Exact Target (a global Software as a Service leader that connects customers with organizations through marketing), it’s been found that daily active Twitter users — AKA, the consumers who actually reach out to or follow brands via Twitter — are 3x more likely to amplify the influence of that brand than, say, a Facebook user would.

Who are Twitter users and why are they so important to your brand?

Of the users who are active on Twitter daily:

  • 72% publish blog posts at least once a month
  • 70% comment on others’ blog posts
  • 61% write at least one product review a month
  • 61% comment on news sites
  • 56% write articles for third-party sites
  • 53% post videos online
  • 50% make contributions to wiki sites
  • 48% share deals found through coupon forums

In essence: What happens on Twitter doesn’t stay on Twitter.

Discussions that begin on the platform are more likely to appear elsewhere on the web than they are from any other network. Brands need to begin paying attention to their Twitter Followers as these consumers represent the most influential online users. Brands should be treating Twitter as an entirely different ecosystem of users, rather than directing brand messages on Twitter towards the majority of their consumers.

Active Twitter users count themselves as those who actually want to influence others. In fact, 73% of Twitter users have said that it is their goal on the platform to accumulate larger audiences, and are incredibly selective about who they choose to follow.

When it comes to identifying a group of consumers who are most likely to impact your brand’s online reputation, get to know your Twitter FOLLOWERS. These consumers are three times more likely than the average consumer to publish to a blog at least once per month (53% compared to 18%), and the content might mention your brand. From submitting product reviews and commenting on news stories to participating in discussion forums and maintaining personal websites, FOLLOWERS represent the most influential online consumer. And while many passive Twitter users are decreasing their use of this channel, the highly-influential daily Twitter users (a.k.a. Megaphones—download The Social Profile for more information) continue to increase their use. These consumers blog, comment, write online articles, and post to wikis more often than any other online consumer.

Twitter’s power to influence extends beyond the actual service.

Of course, Twitter isn’t for everyone — not every consumer (especially new adopters) can handle the overwhelming surge of incoming real-time information on the platform. Luckily, you don’t actually have to use Twitter to know what’s happening on Twitter.

Twitter’s extremely flexible API allows third parties to easily build applications on top of its infrastructure. Also, tweets can be read by absolutely anyone — you don’t need to create an account to read a tweet. This means that while only a fraction of users are actually reading tweets on Twitter itself, the platform is still able to effectively double its reach.

Followers aren’t the only ones listening to your brand on Twitter.

Search engines are listening as well.

Since search engines like Google or Bing are able to index your individual tweets, consumers will be able to find your previous updates during their own queries. What this means is what brands post from their Twitter account will effectively represent them for the remainder of Internet history and most likely will be found by those who are either watching for or stumbling onto them.

So how exactly should brands be interacting with their followers on Twitter? The beauty of the platform is that there is absolutely no right way to go about doing this. Twitter is a place for personality — a place to help give brands a voice — where users don’t expect every single company to interact with them in any specific way (except respectfully, of course). This provides ample opportunity for more creative ways to engage consumers.

For those brands who do need a bit of help, however, Exact Target recommends reading the case studies of other companies that have successfully used Twitter as a marketing device.

Twitter users appreciate the important stuff your brand has to say.

While some consumers might turn to Facebook for more in depth discussion, most agree that Twitter facilitates quick and concise communication due to its 140 character limit. The amazing thing about Twitter is that it forces us to shrink down all of the nonsense we want to say about ourselves and present it in a single shot. It’s like a resume — you want to cut out the “fluff” and only offer the most relevant information to your target audience.

In this way, consumers understand that they are only getting the most important and critical information from brands or those they choose to follow on the platform. This, of course, means that brands need to find a way to embrace their voice on the service in a manner that quickly and effectively communicates the message they want to deliver.

The brevity of the platform isn’t the only thing that keeps followers tuned into what brands want to say — it’s also the fact that Twitter is both game, add-on, and advertisement free. By cutting out all of the distractions that we normally see while using any other channel, Twitter effectively narrows the focus for users only looking to find information. This means that whatever they are using Twitter for (whether it’s to receive news updates or interact with brands) gets their complete attention.

Twitter users aren’t  just following brands for news or product updates.

Consumers that seek out brands on Twitter are looking for perspectives from those companies that they won’t be able to find anywhere else. The level of accessibility of a brand or celebrity as well as their tendency to interact with followers often determines how successful that company or person will be in terms of making a meaningful impact on consumers.

For example, an angry consumer is more likely to Tweet about a failed experience with a company than they are to dial in their aggression as, oftentimes, they feel that the company will have more of a tendency to react (especially since the service is real-time).

Also due to the real-time nature of Twitter is the tendency for consumers to follow brands because they are looking for current promotions, special deals and coupons. Exact Target recommends engaging brand users with real time contests or giveaways, as Twitter followers tend to enjoy the entertaining aspect of these types of promotions.

The bottom line

Twitter, whether you like it or not, is a communication channel unique in and of itself. Understanding how to integrate the service into your marketing strategy can have a huge effect on the long term success of your company or brand, and it is important that you are aware of the differences between marketing to users on Twitter and reaching out to consumers on social networks.

Twitter users are blogger, vloggers, community members and active online participants in Internet culture. They are collaborators and contributors who need to be treated as such if a brand hopes to excel on Twitter’s unique channel. Take a moment to comprehend what exactly it is that your consumers want from you on the platform, and how to deliver that to them in a way that is uniquely capable of being amplified across all channels.