19% of tweets are brand mentions
Case studies abound about how twitter can be used for sales, and there are various studies about the demographics that use Twitter. However, there is little in the way of research about what users tweet about, and if brands have a place on the social network. That is until now. A study, which looked at roughly 150,000 tweets, examined how users were talking about brands using micro-blogging platforms such as Twitter. The paper, published by Prof Jansen at Penn State University, reveals that 19% of tweets are brands mentions.
This is further broken down into 20% of tweets expressing a sentiment, of which about half were positive and about a third negative. The remaining 80% did not express sentiment but instead were largely questions about brands and answers either from the brand, or from the community itself.
This study is significant for several reasons. Firstly it provides conclusive evidence that conversations about brands are occurring on Twitter, and in large volume. This means that with successful monitoring of the channel a brand can learn vast amount from its customers. This information can be used in a variety of ways, to discover and improve where consumers find complaint as well as to discover and build on compliments.
However, this should be common sense, and is definitely well known in the social media community. What is more significant however, is the degree to which people are turning to Twitter as a customer service tool, with large numbers of consumers asking questions about brands. And the community is responding. This has implications for businesses. Brands on Twitter can harness the power of Twitter to streamline their customer service offerings. The danger lies in not having a brand outpost on Twitter; if customers are receiving bad advice and support from the Twitter community it will reflect badly on the brand, even if they aren’t the ones giving the advice. Consumers expect them to be there. The degree of control they exert over the customer support questions is a topic for another day.
The most important thing to take from this is that vast amounts of people are flocking to Twitter for customer support, but there are few brands that are actively promoting their Twitter outposts as sources of help. More worryingly is the number of brands that are still not monitoring the conversation and just broadcasting out the brand message. What they fail to realise is that these conversations are happening right now, whether they are there or not.