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How active is Twitter? In a blog post yesterday, Twitter revealed that 50m tweets are now being sent across the Twitterverse on a daily basis. As Twitter's Kevin Weil points out, that's around 600 tweets per second.

Needless to say, the growth in Twitter's activity level, as measured by tweets, is impressive. In 2007, its first full year in operation, Twitter saw an average of 5,000 tweets per day.

But Twitter's tremendous, exponential growth has significant implications for the brands that have invested heavily in Twitter, and not all of them are good. While brand marketers that have built a strong presence on Twitter should be pleased that they invested in one of the most popular social media hubs, they should also be concerned about what Twitter's activity level means for the effectiveness of their Twitter campaigns.

Put simply, 50m tweets per day is both a gift and a curse for brand marketers. On one hand, those 50m daily tweets represent personal interactions that could create opportunities for brand marketers to engage with and respond to individual consumers. On the other hand, those 50m daily tweets represent a significant amount of noise that brand marketers will have to try to sift through to find signal.

Many brands have been lured to Twitter and other popular social networks by a) the prospect of being able to reach ever-elusive and increasingly mobile consumers who may not be accessible via traditional channels, and b) their potential to serve as one-to-one marketing platforms. Yet their popularity today makes both of those things difficult. For brand marketers, Twitter's 50m daily tweets are problematic for two reasons:

  • It's increasingly difficult to distribute information and marketing messages effectively. If marketers thought email delivery was difficult, tweet delivery is probably even more so. After all, what are the odds that a Twitter user following more than a handful of Twitter accounts is going to even see your tweets?
  • The volume of tweets makes Twitter a tougher medium for one-on-one interaction, especially for brand marketers with a large number of followers. It's easy to miss consumer tweets, and it may not be feasible to respond to all of the ones that are received. With very active accounts managed by multiple people, staying on top of individual 'conversations' can also become complicated.

Twitter's activity level means that brand marketers will have to do more to cut through the clutter. That means costs of managing the medium may rise, and ROI may become harder to find. This is not to say that the costs will be unreasonable, or that there is no ROI. But on Twitter, brand marketers aren't simply competing with each other for attention; they're competing with everybody.

In short, I think Twitter is for brand marketers what a popular nightclub is for many city-dwellers on a Friday night. It's noisy and frenetic, but you still wouldn't want to be anywhere else. Just be sure to bring your A-game, and some cash if you want to be at the center of the party.

Photo credit: Kaloozer via Flickr.

Patricio Robles

Published 23 February, 2010 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

2390 more posts from this author

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Tom Messett

Hi Patricio,

This is an interesting article and highlights some good points, however I have to to challenge you in a couple of areas:

  1. "It's increasingly difficult to distribute information and marketing messages effectvely" - I do not think that the volume of tweets neccessarily makes distributing information more difficult, a higher volume of users and user activity surely means that interesting and compelling content that delivers either entertainment or education value is actually more likely to get re-tweeted and hence widely distributed. The problem is the production of compelling content! You state the following: "what are the odds that a Twitter user following more than a handful of Twitter accounts is going to even see your tweets?" - If your twitter account is interesting and well promoted in other brand communications then it is highly likely that your account will be one of the few that user is following (if they are interested in your brand or sector)!
  2. "The volume of tweets makes Twitter a tougher medium for one-on-one interaction, especially for brand marketers with a large number of followers" - To an extent you are correct, the higher the volume of conversation then there is obviously a requirement for more time invested by the account owner to respond in a one to one fashion, however there are a number of decent monitoring options available (both twitter clients and more robust paid for solutions) that allow one to one engagement to be managed effectively on a large scale, I do not believe an increase in volume of conversation will impact the ability to reach consumers one-to-one, it is simply a case os setting up searches correctly within your client or monitoring tool to filter in the relevant conversations and a case of choosing appropriate conversations to engage in.

Well those are my thoughts anyway.

Thanks,

Tom

over 6 years ago

Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles, Tech Reporter at Econsultancy

Hi Tom,

Can brand marketers produce interesting and compelling content? Sure. Is it easy or cheap? It depends on the brand. Needless to say, the struggle to cut through the clutter will mean -- for many brands at least -- higher costs and lower ROI. As you hint, the production of compelling can be challenging.

The same thing applies to using Twitter as a one-to-one communications platform. Yes, there are good tools out there, but for popular brands being inundated with tweets, the costs of using them effectively may still rise.

In short, I'll repeat that Twitter is like a popular nightclub. If you don't have your A-game and some moola, it's probably difficult to be the life of the party. :)

over 6 years ago

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John McTigue

Patricio,

I agree that the sheer volume of tweets presents new challenges to brands. Perhaps it's time to stop thinking about one-way communication (i.e. broadcasting) and start working on building relationships via social media. Maybe if brands started following back their followers and engage in real conversations, their marketing efforts would be better heard, even if by fewer total users. The new marketing is about relationships, not volume.

over 6 years ago

Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles, Tech Reporter at Econsultancy

John,

Relationships are important, but brands need to be realistic. If you're Coca-Cola, for instance, even a few thousand strong 'relationships' built via Twitter is not going to move the needle.

At the end of the day, social media needs to deliver results. If a major brand employs 10 social media managers at a cost of, say, $50,000/year each, there's no way to get around the fact that the effort needs to produce a more than $500,000/year increase in revenue to be worthwhile.

One important thing that I think gets lost in discussions about social media is that the relationship-building process is different for brands because the ways consumers relate to brands are different. Brands typically create solid relationships with customers through lifestyle associations and symbolism, not one-to-one interactions. Prada, for instance, doesn't need to 'talk' with each of its customers individually to build a lasting relationship. The relationship is borne of the fact that the Prada brand has lifestyle associations and symbolisms that are important to Prada's customers.

over 6 years ago

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NookSurfer

WOW if these figures excludes spam, wonder what the numbers are with spam!! =O

over 6 years ago

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Bill Porter

There is a good tool for analysing what all those tweets might be saying about your brand or product - look at the Twitter semantic search video demo at http://tinyurl.com/ns74w9

over 6 years ago

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