STUDY: Most Fortune 100 Companies Don’t Get Twitter

STUDY: Most Fortune 100 Companies Don’t Get Twitter

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Last week in my Professional Writing class, we discussed usability testing and, most importantly, the design of Twitter postings with reference to Jakob Nielsen’s instructional site. The basic summary was that tweets should be “punchy, credible and viral,” and in looking through the positives and negatives of tweets, it was interesting to consider how advertising might take advantage of the social media tool.

I couldn’t help but think back to our chat with Lena West, CEO of xynoMedia, whose company formulates strategies for client companies to engage with customers through social media platforms. West noted that businesses can be a bit “dorky” about social media, often focusing on pushing their message for profit rather than more effectively crowd sourcing for sustainable brand awareness.

It was this statement that resonated with me as I read the above article on delicious. According to a study released today by Weber Shandwick,  although a large number of Fortune 100 companies have embraced Twitter (73 out of the 100 have a registered Twitter account), the majority have failed to effectively engage followers, suffer from lack of personality in their tweets and overall, do not tweet often enough. Other than the fact that these companies might want to seek the help of West and xynoMedia (shameless plug!), I thought this was a very interesting study in light of our upcoming chat with Randell Rothenberg, CEO of the Interactive Advertising Bureau.

A fatal flaw in the majority of accounts was that the companies focused too much on brand and less on personality. Furthermore, though 24% of Twitter accounts were mainly used for brand awareness, many companies seem to possess accounts merely for the online presence. Instead of utilizing the service as a way to increase sales (as Dell has done successfully with some millions of dollars worth of products sold), only 16% of the Fortune 100 accounts used Twitter for sales, coupons or other special Twitter offers.

Based on what I have learned throughout the semester about branding and online advertising, it would seem that these Fortune 100 companies need to recognize and take advantage of the penultimate feature of social media platforms like Twitter: two-way communication. By engaging customers in a conversation, with personality and a “face” for the brand (perhaps attaching a name/individual to the Twitter postings as representative of the company?) they will ultimately achieve more success and, of course, more sales!

*NOTE* After looking through some of the comments on the article, it was pointed out that many top Fortune 100 companies are highly regulated industries (financial, pharmaceutical, healthcare) that have limits placed on free and open discussion…in which case, they may need to obtain legal approval to avoid SEC violations, thus restricting their ability to be as free-wielding with their tweets. This is an absolutely valid point, one solution other comments offered to these companies was utilizing Twitter for customer service.

Regardless, it seems a lot of the difficulties stem from misperceptions of how Twitter should be used. We seem to have not gotten over the idea that it is merely people posting what they are doing all day long. Hopefully, these companies will be able to figure out how to make Twitter work on their behalf. Also, check out these brands on Twitter: @zappos and @southwestair (West mentioned this one too!) because one comment named them as great brand success stories of those companies that jump-started their traditional promotional efforts via Twitter.

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