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article imageA new study reveals why most brands fail on Twitter

By Jenna Cyprus     Feb 9, 2015 in Business
Twitter is a powerful social media platform, with more than 284 million monthly active users, and more than 500 million tweets sent every day.
Any marketer would drool at the thought of capturing the attention of a fraction of that audience, so it’s no surprise why marketing on Twitter has skyrocketed in popularity.
Unfortunately, brands on Twitter have experienced mixed results. As you might imagine, finding success on Twitter involves more than just claiming an account and reeling in the new web traffic, but even companies with a solid strategy in place have found themselves less successful than they expected.
A new study has shed some light on the most critical factors responsible for this range of varying success.
The Findings
Released in early 2015, a study published by Brandwatch detailed the art of brand responses on the gigantic social media platform. For the study, Brandwatch researched around 100 different brands from the United States and United Kingdom, using accounts from their community management team to send more than 300 test tweets.
According to the report, about 47 percent of retail-based companies on Twitter respond to customers when mentioned in a comment—leaving more than half of all direct mentions completely ignored. To break this down, brands did respond to direct questions about 65 percent of the time, adequately meeting the demands of more than half of their customers, but when those mentions came without a framing question, brands only responded 29 percent of the time. For complaints that mentioned a brand without tagging a name, less than 5 percent of all brands responded, leaving 95 percent of all non-tagged complaints ignored.
Further elaborating on these statistics, Brandwatch revealed the response times of this selection of Twitter brands. More than 20 percent of brands took between 4 hours and 24 hours to respond to direct questions with a tagged mention of the brand, with only about 5 percent of brands responding in under 15 minutes.
The Analysis
This data shows us that brands, particularly retail brands, have a fundamental problem in responding to their customers on Twitter. With tagged mentions, brands do an okay job responding, but rarely in a timely manner. With untagged mentions, brands are absolutely terrible. It means brands aren’t doing anything to actively seek out the people talking about them. Instead, they are casually checking their notifications every once in a while, and responding whenever it’s convenient.
This is a fundamental problem because it violates one of the most important elements of “social media marketing”—the “social” part. “Social” implies a direct interaction from one person to another, and brands tend to lose sight of that. If there’s only one, unanswered side of the conversation, you’ve completely taken the “social” out of social media marketing.
Why Unsocial Brands Will Fail on Twitter
The key to building and managing a successful community of online followers is promoting an ongoing conversation, and making people feel a sense of belonging with the brand. Failing to respond to user comments, or failing to respond to them quickly, will quickly build up feelings of alienation or even resentment in your following.
The biggest obstacle social brands face in the marketing world is being seen as a faceless corporation. People trust other people, and tend to see corporate brands as impersonal and untrustworthy. The only way to break that barrier down is through direct, personal interaction—especially when the customer is taking the initiative to mention your brand.
Take a look at it from an individual level. If one person reaches out to you on Twitter and you respond quickly and personally, that person will instantly warm up to your brand. That person might tell two of their friends, and eventually you’ll get three or more new customers out of the interaction. That’s a best-case scenario, but imagine the worst-case scenario; one person reaches out to you on Twitter and you completely fail to respond. That person will probably unfollow you, and anyone who notices their ignored question will probably be left with a negative impression of your brand.
What You Can Do to Improve
The key item to learn here is that even individual responses can make a difference, and those responses are going to be what fuel your entire social media strategy. If you can keep your followers engaged directly, and you show that your brand is both personal and receptive to your customers’ needs, you’ll drastically improve your reputation, increase your follower numbers, and you’ll see more traffic and more revenue as a result.
Remember, it’s not enough to simply monitor your notifications feed and respond whenever you get the time. You have to make a concentrated effort to find every mention of your brand on social media, and respond in a personal, individual way.
More about Social media, social media marketing, Twitter