To The Marketers Confused By Twitter: Time To Get Over It

Forrester Research just came out with a new report this week on how marketers should be using Twitter right now to drive real business results. The report points out that marketers don’t get Twitter, and because they don’t get Twitter they are missing out on harnessing one of the world’s most powerful marketing channels.  As the report’s author Melissa Parrish describes- “because Twitter is so different, marketers struggle with it…..most marketers don’t really understand Twitter- neither it’s tricky challenges nor its unique possibilities”.

So here is a dose of reality for all of you confused marketers.  You need to get over it.  You need to decide tomorrow that you are going to master Twitter, and the only way you are going to do that is to personally join the Twitter community  and start living it.  And I don’t mean posting what you have for breakfast every 3 weeks.  I mean making it a part of your daily life, sharing useful content (otherwise known as Content Marketing in it’s most basic form), and engaging with other people on Twitter. I’ve written in past posts that any marketer – or anyone interested in finding customers today—needs to join the 21st century and get personally involved with social media NOW.  This is not a drill.  Things are not going back to the way they were in the safe, predictable mass media world we all knew. To remain relevant in this new world you are going to either need to speak its language or be marginalized.  Your choice.

The reality is you cannot understand this world until you live it. You will always have a mass media, “blast the message out to the great unwashed” mentality until social media—and Twitter—is your passion.  Until the lightbulb goes off one day when you see something that you have written, or an idea you have created, ripple through a network of exponentially expanding people– repeatedly shared, reformed, and mashed up into new forms.  And all this essentially cost you nothing as a marketer. No expensive TV spot.  No elaborate media plan.  This is the power of what’s known as Earned Media.  As Forrester described in their landmark 2009 report on Paid, Earned and Owned Media-  Earned Media is “a message about a company passed between consumers as a result of an experience with the brand”. In my old agency days this was known as PR.  But in a modern world of social media, this is PR on steroids.  Forrester went on to describe Earned Media’s power:

· It is the most credible media. Trust and authenticity are key aspects of credibility, and people trust their peers more than any other source when making a purchase decision.· It influences sales. Shoppers prefer retail Web sites that feature online ratings and reviews. More than half of consumers who trust ratings and reviews will search for an alternative product after reading a negative rating/review. · It has reach and permanence. While any given piece of offline word of mouth reaches just a handful of people, online word of mouth can reach millions and lives on virtually forever. Once comments are made in social, they are often indexed by a search engine and available for other consumers to read long after the fact.

So here is a little more ammo as to why you want to make that commitment to personally make it part of your life.  Why Twitter is one of the most powerful marketing tools out there, and why it will only grow more powerful.

As Forrester points out in their new report, “Twitter’s influential public conversation is impossible to ignore”.  Much of its users are what the research firm categorizes as “Mass Connectors”, or the 6.2% of online adults who create 80% of the total “influence impressions” in the interactive world. This is a variation of the offline world’s 80/20 rule in it’s more extreme digital form. Usability expert Jakob Nielsen described this phenomenon related to user generated content sites and online networks as “participation inequality” and showed that in the digital world it follows a 90-9-1 rule: 90% of users are lurkers who never contribute, 9% contribute from time to time, and 1% represent the vast majority of all participation.

Once you understand the laws of digital communities embodied in the 90-9-1 rule, you begin to get why influencer marketing needs to be the foundation of your campaign.   I’ve used promoted tweets in the past as the vanguard of a larger marketing effort, and they can be an incredibly powerful spark to start a rapidly spreading real-time conversation.

All of these facts should give you a pretty good reason to go dig up your Twitter password, get over your confusion, and start joining the modern marketing world.

 

 

 

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