Numbers Highlight Twitter's Potential As Marketing Platform

I recently spoke at "Twitter for Marketers" in Chicago, a conference that featured leaders from a variety of industries discussing how to effectively leverage Twitter as a marketing platform.  Speakers included executives from Twitter -- CEO Dick Costolo and president of Revenue Adam Bain -- as well as hands-on marketers who shared how they currently use Twitter to drive business results. 

Surprisingly, there was little debate among attendees and presenters whether or not to launch campaigns on Twitter.  They have clearly moved beyond the "Why Twitter?" stage and are now in the "How do I execute?" stage.  Amazing to see this widespread acceptance of Twitter as a marketing channel considering the platform has only existed for about five years!

One stat shared at the event really underscored how pervasive Twitter has become as an information-sharing platform -- 20,000 searches per second.  That number shows that many consumers now actively use Twitter as a platform to find and engage with content.  For my part, I shared a recent survey fielded by Compete that shows a bifurcation on Twitter between "content producers" and "content consumers" greater than we see on Facebook.  On Facebook, 81% of users consume AND produce content while only 56% of Twitter users do both. Twitter users are more likely to use the platform for either self-expression (e.g. tweeting) or finding content, but not necessarily both.  

You'd expect Twitter executives to lament having so many passive users, but Dick Costolo said otherwise.  While a higher tweet/user ratio increases the likelihood of content going viral, it is not a necessity for platform to be an effective marketing tool.  Marketers, he suggested, can leverage the vast reach of Twitter to access hard-to-find consumer segments -- whether or not those people are actually tweeting on the platform or not.

During the event, I shared the following highlights from our survey that support Twitter's viability as a marketing channel:

-        43% of Twitter users access the service via a mobile device compared to only 34% for Facebook.  As consumers increasingly embrace mobile devices, Twitter will become an even more attractive marketing platform.  This is especially true internationally, where mobile adoption is already much higher.

-        19% of Twitter users choose to follow a brand.  Clearly Twitter isn't simply a way to communicate with friends or learn the latest celebrity gossip; it's used to stay up-to-date on brand or company news.  In fact, of those who "follow" a brand on Twitter or "like" a brand on Facebook, Twitter followers are much more likely to cite "receiving updates on future products" (84% to 60%) as a key reason for doing so.  Savvy marketers will therefore start using Twitter as a primary channel for product updates and promotions.

-        56% of those who follow a brand on Twitter indicate they are more likely to purchase a product from that company -- compared to 47% of those who like a brand on Facebook. There you have it; Twitter can effectively drive lower funnel KPI activity, making it a very attractive marketing platform.

I was pleased to see in Chicago that so many marketers are exploring innovative ways to engage with prospects and customers on Twitter. Judging from my post-speech conversations, our data was a final nudge for some to push ahead with new Twitter initiatives. Hopefully I've provided enough fodder above to nudge the rest of you forward, too!

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1 comment about "Numbers Highlight Twitter's Potential As Marketing Platform".
  1. Nick Drew from Yahoo Canada , July 21, 2011 at 1:23 p.m.

    >19% of Twitter users choose to follow a brand. Clearly Twitter isn't simply a way to communicate with friends or learn the latest celebrity gossip; it's used to stay up-to-date on brand or company news
    ...and for interacting with a brand; in fact you could argue that it's more about interaction even than Facebook.

    > 56% of those who follow a brand on Twitter indicate they are more likely to purchase a product from that company -- compared to 47% of those who like a brand on Facebook. There you have it; Twitter can effectively drive lower funnel KPI activity
    You're confusing correlation with causation - I have used a brand and wish to engage with it (either to complain or to ask questions), so I follow that brand on Twitter. The evidence on 'I follow a brand I haven't previously purchased from, on Twitter/ Facebook and as a result I want to buy something from that brand' is thin at best.