This post is part of our week of Twitter. Check out this page for all the posts.
Keep up the momentum
According to a Nielsen study, released in May 2009, more than 60% of US Twitter users do not return to the site the following month. Sysomos found that, in June 2009, 50.4% of Twitter users hadn’t updated their status in the last seven days, showing that approximately a half of Twitter users are actually active.
These are worrying figures for Twitter but a hack into private company emails in May 2009 revealed internal estimates for a growth to 25 million users by the end of 2009 and a billion by 2013. So Twitter is obviously still confident of growth.
Grow and add, or stay small and simple?
Twitter has seen various additions and improvements since its inception. The original service didn’t include any formal method for directed messages until widespread use of the @reply forced Twitter to implement the functionality. We’re now seeing the same thing happening with a formalising of retweets and geotagging (a feature that has been long under-supported). But some users are asking whether Twitter should concentrate on improving their infrastructure rather than adding new features.
The service has notoriously suffered from downtime, known in Twitter circles by the ‘fail whale’ – an image of a whale that appears when the service is unavailable – most recently suffering a DDoS attack that crippled the service for hours. With so much attention on the site and ever-growing popularity its stability is becoming a concern. The problem for Twitter boils down to money – improved infrastructure is big bucks. Until Twitter comes up with a viable business plan for monetisation and is able to fund increases in stability then the service will remain vulnerable.
The role of the brand
There’s a key question that needs to be asked here: what right does a brand have to operate within the UGC space? While it is easy to passively add value in an environment like Facebook – through applications, etc – the conversational nature of Twitter poses a challenge to marketers to provide some active value to the user.
“Previously we had a model of buying attention from media companies. Now we’ve got direct relationships so we have to earn that attention – we have to earn it by being entertaining, useful and also nice.” Faris Yakob, EVP Chief Technology Strategist at McCann Erickson NY.
We’ve seen brands that have dabbled in the space and now know how difficult it is to get Twitter perfect first time. It is tempting to avoid playing it safe with a simple strategy of engagement and instead go for a risky attention-grabbing strategy but the brands we’ve seen that have engaged in a simple conversation on Twitter with their consumers have come out winners. But don’t be afraid…
There is an element of stepping into the unknown with Twitter. The first step for a brand is to realise the potential and then work on getting the basics right (see our tips later).
“It’s ok for brands to make a mistake because we’re in early days of Twitter usage” Daren Forsyth, Director of Innovation & New Media at Media Trust, (@darenBBC)
“It’s ok to fail. Do it quickly and apologise publicly. People are a lot more forgiving when you admit to your mistakes rather than deny any wrongdoing.” Tiphereth Gloria, Social Media Consultant, (@tiphereth)
Brands need to get the basics right; be creative but keep it simple, stay in tune with the medium and the audience it provides, use common sense and remember that tweets are public and searchable so anyone could be reading them.
Iain Tait, a partner at digital agency Poke, uses the analogy of a party:
“How can people ‘not like’ Twitter? It’s like saying you don’t like parties…. And if you’re having a shit time on Twitter it’s your own fault. You’ve fallen in with the wrong crowd”