Twitter impact is less significant than we think

Is Twitter useful?Twitter could be much less significant than we think.  Every day on TV you will see captions with “hashtags” inviting you to Tweet. My Mum wouldn’t know a hashtag if it bit her. Yesterday I was at the Madejski Stadium in Reading watching the London Irish rugby team lose (again…!) and I logged on to Twitter to see who was Tweeting about my team’s demise. There was a record crowd in attendance – almost 21,000 – yet the Tweets appeared to be coming from just half a dozen people; indeed all around me there was no-one else using Twitter – they were far to busy watching the game.

There are over 150m people worldwide subscribed to Twitter – that means that 99.98% of the world does NOT use Twitter. Facebook is streets ahead, with only 85% of the world NOT subscribed. The Internet itself still has to reach 71% of the planet. We are living in a bubble.

That bubble has been a little bit pricked with the result of a new survey on Twitter usage. Of all the people who signed up for an account some 56% “rarely” or “never” Tweet. Only one in five people who have signed up for Twitter use it on a daily basis. But their frenetic activity may go unnoticed anyway. According to this new research, 44% of people “rarely” or “never” log in to Twitter. Indeed, only a quarter of the people signed up for Twitter use it every day to read Tweets.

For businesses, the news gets worse in this study. The vast majority of people follow less than 100 others on Twitter. And of those 60% are family, friends and other personal contacts.

In other words, Twitter is a place where people who already know each other keep in touch with one another, on a fairly infrequent basis.

But don’t close down your Twitter account just yet. Look closely at what the study tells us. It appears that Twitter is mostly used by people to keep in  touch with people they already know. In other words, Twitter is clearly a fantastic customer relationship tool. Far too many businesses think of it as a sales tool, or a means of promoting their websites. Those companies doing well with Twitter realise it is a relationship tool which is just one method of connecting with customers. If only a handful of your clients use Twitter as their primary method of keeping up-to-date (the 11% who use it multiple times a day) then you need to use Twitter to achieve that. Similarly, for the 25% (or whatever figure it is in your market) who prefer email, that’s what you need to use – and so on.

In other words, Twitter is but one tool in building relationships with customers. But as this survey reveals, you should not let anyone fool you into believing that Twitter is some kind of business revolution enabling you to market yourself into the stratosphere.

Instead, think of Twitter as one tool for maintaining customer relationships, rather than as some kind of significant marketing revolution.


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Graham Jones
Graham Jones is an Internet Psychologist who studies the way people use the online world, in particular how people engage with businesses. He uses this knowledge to help companies improve their online connections to their customers and potential customers and offers consultancy, workshops, masterclasses and webinars. He also speaks regularly at conferences and business events. Graham is an award-winning writer and the author of 32 books, several of which are about various aspects of the Internet. For more information connect with me on Google+
Graham Jones


Graham Jones is an Internet Psychologist, professional speaker and author of 32 books who helps businesses understand the online behaviour of their customers
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