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Major brands are ignoring Twitter despite the potential advantages for reaching their customers, with almost three-quarters having no presence on the micro-blogging site, according to an exclusive survey conducted by new media age.

The research analysed the Twitter activity of the 500 brands in the 2009/10 Superbrands list during the week of 19 November 2009. It revealed 74% had no presence at all on the micro-blogging site.

On Twitter, daily updates are considered a standard. But according to the survey, of the 130 Superbrands with a presence on Twitter, just 50 used the site daily. A further 54 had tweeted once a week. However, 29 were tweeting once an hour or more.

Twitter has grown significantly in the past year, by 2,680% to 3.3m users in October 2009 from just 121,000 in October 2008, according to Nielsen Online.

It is seen as having the potential to be a major marketing channel and publicity around it has included the opportunity for brands to increase revenues. Electronics manufacturer Dell claimed to have made over $6.5m (£3.98m) through Twitter since it set up its first profile in 2007.

Nathan Macdonald, managing partner at social media agency We Are Social, which manages social media activity for Coca-Cola, Ford and Nokia, said brands need to tweet at least twice a week. “Tweeting less than this would seem like the brand isn’t bothering. To be credible brands need to show commitment,” he said.

Ciaran Norris, head of social media at media agency Mindshare, said the reluctance of brands to use Twitter is because they’re being careful to fit it into their overall marketing strategy.

“It’s a year since Twitter went mainstream in terms of coverage, but that’s a short time for companies only just getting to grips with Facebook, which truly is mainstream,” he said. “Brands are taking their time to see how Twitter fits into an integrated strategy, rather than jumping on board with a me-too reaction.”

One of the brands that had a Twitter presence but had given up using the site was Procter & Gamble brand Oral B, which hadn’t updated its profile since 22 February.

James Nunn, brand communications manager for P&G Grooming, heads the company’s social media strategy in the UK. He said it was currently reviewing its strategy globally.

“We’re evaluating all forms of social media. We want to work out a strategy rather than have separate P&G brands doing it ad hoc,” he said.

Julie Jeancolas, digital board director at media agency Carat, said, “Brands have been testing how it works. Next year they’ll be more focused and have a strategy.”

Fruit drinks brand Innocent has more than 20,000 followers and uses Twitter to have daily conversations with consumers. Dan Germain, head of creative, said it found that not specifying a strategy had helped.

“If we’d had a set strategy at the start and defined some sort of ROI, then it wouldn’t be successful because Twitter doesn’t deliver on that,” he said. “For us it’s just another channel for talking to people.”

Other brands, such as telecoms company Orange, have defined the different ways in which they can use Twitter and so created more than one profile for different audiences.

Conor Maples, communications manager at Orange, said, “We have different Twitter accounts for various digital divisions. That’s the beauty of Twitter — it’s what you make it.”

Twitter was unavailable for comment.

The full report will be available to purchase. To register your interest, email nma.social@centaur.co.uk

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Published 10 December, 2009 by NMA Staff

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