There is some interesting research over on Sysomos Inc. which indicates that 71% of twitter messages get no reaction at all, like a reply or retweet, 85% get one @reply and 92% of the actual retweets happen within the first hour.  Over the last two months, they examined 1.2 Billion tweets and found that 29% beget a reaction and only 6% were retweets.  Heck, even my tweet about the story only got 1 click according to http://j.mp:

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While many will take this as and argue that twitter is useless, but Tom Webster at BrandSavant has a different take in this blog.  He notes that measuring click-stream data alone will never give accurate results, you need to measure both online and offline exploration to gauge audience participation.  We already know that most people don’t really engage on twitter and Tom makes the comparison to a newspaper editorial page.  You can’t measure the circulation of the New York Times just by how many people write letters.  His follow up blog also looked at it another way – instead of 71% not responding, how about ‘Nearly 3 in 10 Tweets Provoke a Reaction.’  That actually sounds better and depending on the number of followers, could be a huge spread.

The other question is not necessarily how many responded to your company’s tweet – but do you watch and listen to what’s being said about YOU – which is probably one of the biggest benefits of micro-blogging.  You can engage your audience by responding to their needs rather than blasting what you think they need.  Quickly responding to a dissatisfied customer (who may not follow you at all) can transform them into a huge advocate.  We’ve seen that here.  Someone might be having difficulties with a configuration or simply expressing frustration and we either provide some guidance or a link to the solution and voila!  Their next tweet is about how awesome we are.  That’s how we humans operate.  It’s not so much that we get what we want when things go bad, it’s that someone actually listened and had empathy to our situation.  We gravitate to those who care, are willing to help, or just lend an ear to our grief. 

This NYT article talks about small businesses can take advantage of twitter.  Many small businesses don’t have a lot to spend on advertising and their inventory may change often.  They can use twitter to update their customers about new flavors, colors or a weekend sale for free.  The key is not to be boring.  With any advertising, you need to stand out amongst all the other billboards fighting for our attention.  Add a touch of attitude without arrogance and folks will notice.  Interesting and entertaining.

Other ways to take advantage of the medium is use it like a live FAQ as Whole Foods does.  Use it as a portable focus group like Kiss My Bundt.  Don’t just sell but pique interest or arouse curiosity and include a link.  Throw some trivia out there.  Create the intimacy as if you’re the neighborhood corner store.  The age-old notion that people buy from people still holds. 

ps

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