Do You Need a Twitter Strategy If Only 6% of Adults Use It?

Market Research Insights

Only 6% of U.S. adults or roughly one in twenty US adults use Twitter according to the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project’s recent research results. While one in four users check twitter multiple times a day, one in five users never checks Twitter updates.

On closer examination, daily users utilize Twitter as a communications–information gathering tool. Here’s what at least half of the respondents do on Twitter:

  • Share links to news stories. 12% share links at least once a day.
  • Post humorous or philosophical observations about life in general. 16% post daily.
  • Re-tweet (RT) material posted by others. 18% re-tweet daily.
  • Send direct messages (DM) to other users. 11% direct message daily.

These results surprised many marketers who thought usage would have been higher. That said, Nielsen’s Twitter analysis from April 2009 that showed Twitter’s growth as a platform was challenged because users stop using the service. (Note: Nielsen did the analysis twice: once only including Twitter and later including related Twitter applications. The results of both analyses were consistent.)

This research implies: If your target market is part of that active core of Twitter users, then you need a Twitter strategy to grow your Twitter follower base.

Regardless of your Twitter strategy or number of Twitter followers, you need to enhance your marketing with other media forms such as search, email marketing and old fashion mass reach media like newspapers, magazines and television.

Given these analyses’ bleak outlook for Twitter, should you abandon your Twitter marketing strategy?

Keep your Twitter strategy if it’s effective in driving improved brand sentiment and sales or in supporting other aspects of your marketing mix. With Twitter’s low penetration and the high propensity for customers to lurk, be careful about rushing to cut your program. It may be yielding benefits that aren’t directly hitting your bottom line. For example, it may make your firm appear more hip and up-to-date.

Here are five reasons to keep your tweets coming.

  1. Gather news, especially for a media company. Following Twitter is critical for getting breaking news and staying on top of trends.
  2. Monitor social media trends and sentiment. This is particularly important for PR and communications where early indicators of an issue can be critical for averting or containing a disaster.
  3. Engage target audience. While this doesn’t hold for every business, if your market is interested in getting information on Twitter, then you must be engaged on this forum.
  4. Provide customer service. Similarly, if your customers look for help on Twitter, then you must be there to meet their needs.
  5. Offer special deals and promotions. To this end, manage expectations and limit the number of tweets per day. It can be useful to have a special account to handle these deals.

While Twitter penetration lags its much more popular social media sibling, Facebook, don’t rush to cut it out of your marketing plans.

What’s your take on this research? What’s your advice regarding Twitter strategies? Please add your opinions in the comment section below.

Happy marketing,
Heidi Cohen

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