This is a question I have been asked numerous times. My answers have almost all the same. I simply ask 2 easy questions:
- What are you trying to accomplish?
- Are your Customers on Twitter?
Before deciding to venture into social media, it is important to understand your own audience, where they may be located and have clearly defined goals. For Comcast my team has been involved in numerous social media spaces. Our goal has been 2 fold:
- Meet the Customer where they already are
- Try to assist when we can
I have always found Twitter to be a great space. The reason for this is we know our Customers are there and Twitter has a strong searchability that is also timely. When we look at spaces we do look at the searchability and how quickly we can obtain the information from our Customers. For this we can easily use Twitter Search. There are 2 other benefits to Twitter that can be used for any business. First and foremost is the ability to build relationships. Nothing is more powerful than the relationships with Customers, or prospective Customers. I have built relationships in this space and now also work with the companies involved. Now that is because they had a good product, but I will say it is great knowing that they are there if I need them. The other benefit to Twitter is when people are responding to the question “What are you doing?” many times they are saying how they use a product or interact with a business. That is useful intelligence.
It does seem more and more people are turning to social networking, such as Facebook or Twitter. According to a recent Pew Research Report , as of December, 2008 11% of “online” American adults have said they use a service like Twitter. Now as @criticalmass asked me “if I would walk up to 100 people on the street, would I expect 11 to have heard of Twitter,” I would not expect that. But I think if you were to ask a broader question involving other social media, such as Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, or MySpace I think you would find the numbers even higher. The other aspect is not so much the number but the actual trend. In May, 2008 Pew found 6% were participating on spaces like Twitter and in November, 2008 that number was at 9%. That is a very fast climb.
Another interesting piece to the study was the breakdown of the age ranges. Unlike other social media spaces, Twitter has an older crowd, with a median age of 31 compared to 27 for MySpace, 26 for Facebook and 40 for LinkedIn.
Beyond these stats the report talks about how Twitter users are more connected via electronic devices. This is not shocking given the amount of early adopters in the space. The other discussion in the report is how Twitter users gain their news information. Not surprisingly it is via electronic means.
As we have seen, more and more people are joining spaces like Twitter. I know in Facebook I have been meeting more and more people, many of whom I never expected to be in an electronic space. As social media continues to become more mainstream, it will be important for companies to view this as another channel to communicate with their Customers. Where are your Customers?