Twitter’s evolving applications for business

Brian Solis has a great post today on how businesses are using social media tools. Brian highlights a report by econsultancy.com.

The report says that micro- blogging (i.e. Twitter) is now the most widely adopted social media tactic, used by 78% of company respondents. This I find surprising. There’s waaaay more though.

Re ways companies use Twitter, it says:

62%  use it for publicizing new content

54% – use it as a marketing channel

47% – use it for brand monitoring

27% – use it as a way of reacting to customer service issues and inquiries

25% – use it for gathering customer feedback

23% – use it to gain market intelligence

14% – use it as a sales channel

11% – use it as a human resources tool

4% – use it for “Other” purposes

21% – use it but for “None of the above” reasons

What the data say is that, contrary to the wishes and advice of most social media experts, companies are using this tool as a broadcast/push channel – a decision that seems to follow what I would expect. Clearly Twitter is a great way to tell the world about a firm’s latest blog post, product launch, PR stunt etc. What would be most interesting – and I realize that this would be very hard to compile – would be further analysis on how these broadcast and push usages work. Having this data would speak to the heart of the debate about this shiny new object.

Aside from this some of the data has more interesting implications and begs equally important questions.

First, almost half of the over 1000 firms surveyed use Twitter for “brand monitoring” which is congruent with the dictums of the social media elite. There is obviously some real value in this – in fact in my view it may be the single most useful application of Twitter, along with customer feedback and service (see Comcast on these applications). Even VERY small businesses can use Twitter effectively for monitoring. Services like Tweetbeep – essentially a google alert-type application for Twitter – allow time crunched entrepreneurs to monitor conversations easily. Powerful if you believe that benefits accrue to smaller players who can be more nimble and quick in responding to monitored conversations than larger, richer competitors. In this regard Twitter is an equalizer.

What is also interesting about the data is that 21% of the companies surveyed use Twitter for “none of the above” applications. What, I wonder, is going on here? Clearly Twitter – more generally real time micro blogging – is an evolving entity and the ways people use it as a business tool are ever changing. It would be nice to get a cursory list of the “none of the above” uses.

Are there things in this data that you find noteworthy or surprising?



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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Danny Starr January 26, 2010 at 10:08 am

I don’t think it is that surprising given the rush of people to get onto Twitter and having no idea how to use it.

I think it is not a great marketing channel so not surprising that over half are trying to use it that way. And I supposed the none of the above is people that are on it but don’t really do anything with it but talk about their own crap ie: we won some business today… LOL I actually saw an agency tweet mainly about business development happenings at the agency.

I’d like to redo this survey but ask more direct questions… ie: what does your organization use Twitter for:

a) Make money – afterall, that’s what we’re here to do right?

b) Broadcast important things about our company that we think are important and because we think it is important, it is and people should retweet it.

c) Create a bigger and more confusing smoke screen designed to keep customers from knowing that we don’t really care about them.

d) Nothing – some 20 year old in some department set up the account and we’re still trying to figure out what Twitter is or who that 20 year old is (or was as he has probably moved into independent consulting as a social media guru by now).

Jackson Wightman January 26, 2010 at 3:38 pm

Tks Dan. Wish you had written the survey – wld have been much more colorful :) Who dare I ask was the agency you refer to?

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