Why Marketers Shouldn't Give Up On Twitter
But there's no doubt that consumers and marketers are having real, two-way conversations through Twitter that are producing measurable results for brands like Dell and Best Buy. Consumers want to communicate with brands -- and with the recent proliferation of participatory digital platforms, access to them and other consumers is easier than ever before.
Beyond a doubt, social media is now mainstream. Facebook, just over six years old, recently hit 500 million users. To appreciate just how fast that is, consider that it took radio 38 years to reach 50 million users and broadcast TV 13 years to reach that same number. Marketers are recognizing social media's value and putting more money toward it: Borrell Associates predicts that worldwide social network ad spending will increase 68% from $4 billion in 2009 to $7.5 billion in 2010, and continue to grow every year to about $38 billion by 2015.
But connecting with consumers using social media means more than just posting an advertisement on YouTube, updating a Facebook status or keeping a corporate Twitter account current. Marketers must utilize these platforms strategically and focus more on relevant content creation and less on interruptive messaging. Dell and Best Buy, for example, have found success on Twitter and other social media by being genuinely interested in and responsive to consumer input.
Dell began using Twitter in 2007 as a cost-efficient way to advertise deals from Dell Outlet, which sells refurbished equipment. But Dell soon noticed that consumers embraced the Twitter account as a direct link to the company, using it to ask questions, register complaints and praise. So Dell broadened its Twitter approach, using it as a forum for listening, not just pushing out messages.
Today, Dell has more than 80 Dell-branded Twitter accounts that offer everything from videos of new technologies to promotions for Asia-Pacific customers. Not only has Dell's presence built brand loyalty, it has helped the company's bottom line: Dell has booked more than $3 million in revenue attributable to its Twitter posts, according to Twitter101 CaseStudies.
Best Buy has leveraged Twitter just as effectively via the Twelpforce page -- a digital take on the blue-shirted members of Best Buy's Geek Squad and technical support service. Members of the Geek Squad and corporate employees staff Best Buy's @twelpforce account, fielding questions from consumers using an @reply to the customer. Best Buy has employees tag their tweets with #twelpforce, sending the answer through the @twelpforce account and allowing anyone searching the feed to find topics of interest.
According to Twitter101 CaseStudies, the Twelpforce has provided over 19,500 answers to customer inquiries, over 2,300 Best Buy employees have signed up to answer questions, and complaints to Best Buy were reduced by 20% in the first year of the Twelpforce program.
These are just a couple of notable examples of strategic use of social platforms to deliver against the objectives of a marketing campaign. As these illustrate, connecting with consumers via new and popular media like Twitter can deliver customer- and investor- pleasing results: Dell attributes more than $3 million in revenue to its Twitter activity and Best Buy reduced consumer complaints by 20% in the @Twelpforce program.
To be sure, some marketers are taking advantage of social media's potential: 22.4% of B2B marketers and 24.6% of B2C marketers globally are using Twitter successfully to drive sales by linking to companies' promotional webpage's as well as helping to boost SEO rankings.
To take that activity to a higher level, as Dell did, requires investment in exploring the medium's potential, creativity, and a commitment to creating and optimizing content that will fulfill your customers' needs and spark a dialogue.
Given the relatively low cost of establishing accounts on Twitter and other social media outlets, sales driven from these platforms can result in low cost per acquisition and high return on investment. Certainly, a worthy investment.