Just 26% of retailers in the UK have a Twitter account, and 24% a Facebook page, and most are not making the most of these, according to a new study.

The E-commerce Social Media Report from dotCommerce looks at the social media activities of 100 retailers in the UK, large and small, and finds room for improvement.

While the study does contain some useful stats on Facebook and blogging, I’m going to take a look at how retailers are using Twitter…

Retailers and Twitter:  stats from the study

  • 26% of the 100 retailers studied had a Twitter account.
  • Of those with a Twitter account, only 23% provided a link to the account on their website. 
  • Of the Twitter accounts surveyed, the average number of followers was 348, while retailers followed 90 other users and had tweeted 129 times.
  • The most common Tweets were product updates (73%), marketing Tweets (62%) and company news (58%).

Retailers that are using Twitter effectively

While plenty of UK retailers have yet to start using Twitter, there are some good examples.

The report picks out eSpares as a ‘star example’. This is because the retailer communicates with customers in a ‘natural and engaging way’.

The retailer has nearly 800 followers, and engages in general chit-chat rather than just selling, though it does offer some useful product advice for those that request it, alongside competitions and special offers. It also has a ‘Twitter manifesto‘ which sets out its purpose for using Twitter.

There are some other good examples that are not mentioned by name in the report. I think the way ASOS uses Twitter is worthy of a mention, and the retailer has managed to build up an impressive 26,000 followers.

Like eSpares, it mixes up product news and help with general chatting with other Twitter users. ASOS also runs other Twitter accounts, including one for customer service, and one for service updates. It also promotes its Twitter (and Facebook) presence from its homepage. 

Asda and Debenhams use Twitter reasonably well too. Both use it more to promote offers and new products, but this is made clear from the account description. Debenhams is also worth a mention for its Twitter Assistants experiment.

How should retailers be using Twitter?

The dotCommerce report provides ten tips, all of which are good advice: retailers should register their brand names on Twitter, provide special offers, and monitor what people are saying, to name just three. See the report for the full list.

For more tips, see Chris Lake’s post on the 27 varieties of tweet used by retailers, which should provide some ideas for retailers who perhaps aren’t sure what to Tweet about. 

For other Twitter related advice, see this post on using Twitter for customer service and Dell’s Richard Binhammer on his company’s approach to selling on Twitter.