Call it micro-blogging, call it social networking, just don’t call it a marketing revolution. There’s no denying the fact that the Twitter social messaging platform is catching on and setting the internet marketing community ablaze. Sure, it provides a unique and novel way to keep stay updated on the day-to-day or minute-to-minute happenings within your network. I will even go so far as to say it is a great way to keep in touch with friends and casual acquaintances.
Despite all the attention it is getting, Twitter will not revolutionize marketing as we know it, and here’s why:
- Lack of Reach and Scale – 50% of the estimated 1.2M Twitter users are following fewer than 10 people and/or have fewer than 10 followers. Source: Twitter Blog
- High Composition of Marketers – According to Walter Carl, Assistant Professor of Communications Studies at Northeastern University, “The people who I see using it are an older demographic, people in marketing or P.R. or advertising, who use it for work, to present themselves as particular types of people.” If your target market is marketers, you’ve hit the jackpot. If you are trying to reach John and Jane Doe, they aren’t listening. Source: NYTimes.com
- Limited Messaging Capabilities – 140 characters of text is not the place to build a brand. It’s a place to engage an active fan base, which is usually a small percentage of a company’s existing or prospective customers.
- Same Content, Different Channel – Despite the buzz in the marketing industry, Twitter is just a new way to package content. If the message or the content is of poor quality, using a trendy channel like Twitter is like putting lipstick on a pig. It still stinks.
- Short on Metrics – Other than your number of followers, there are no metrics or analytics that can be used to determine the success or failure of a Twitter marketing push. You could tag the URLs you include in your posts to determine click volume, but you will be clueless as far as impressions, CTR or any impact on brand metrics.
Of course, there are success stories and examples of Twitter being used in unique and productive ways to facilitate communication and networking. But as a marketing channel, it is fraught with many limitations and only a few practical applications. Just like other new media phenoms, Twitter will eventually come back down to earth and be recognized for what it really is: just another weapon in the online marketing arsenal that can be deployed to reach certain niche audiences when the objectives, strategy, timing, placement, and message have been determined and committed resources are in place.
That being said, I like Twitter as a personal messaging service and casual distraction. If you are on Twitter and want to reach out, you can find me at @AndrewCMiller.