Reward of Being the Top Market Researcher on Twitter

February 3, 2010
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My views on using Twitter for marketing and market research

I wasn’t going to blog about this, but I’ve started getting a few pings via Facebook, LinkedIn and email wondering why I’m missing from Twitter all of a sudden. As is the case for many ‘power users’ of various social networks, the reward for encouraging use of these services among other professionals in your industry is often met with some sort of account freeze or other punishment. (you may recall the LinkedIn incident when my account was frozen for having an “inappropriate” image).

These are one of the many problems with social media, social networking in particular, which make it more difficult to take them seriously as either a long term market research or even marketing tool. You may invest considerable time and money in building an application, growing your fan base etc., but you are at the mercy of these networks growing pains, changes in API and automated data mining rules …

This is also why it is often a source of amusement to me to see how various “social media consultants” and “social media market researchers” talk only about the pluses and never about the risks and downsides.

Don’t get me wrong. Social

My views on using Twitter for marketing and market research

I wasn’t going to blog about this, but I’ve started getting a few pings via Facebook, LinkedIn and email wondering why I’m missing from Twitter all of a sudden. As is the case for many ‘power users’ of various social networks, the reward for encouraging use of these services among other professionals in your industry is often met with some sort of account freeze or other punishment. (you may recall the LinkedIn incident when my account was frozen for having an “inappropriate” image).

These are one of the many problems with social media, social networking in particular, which make it more difficult to take them seriously as either a long term market research or even marketing tool. You may invest considerable time and money in building an application, growing your fan base etc., but you are at the mercy of these networks growing pains, changes in API and automated data mining rules …

This is also why it is often a source of amusement to me to see how various “social media consultants” and “social media market researchers” talk only about the pluses and never about the risks and downsides.

Don’t get me wrong. Social Networks are a powerful tool now, and will continue to become more so. I’ll leave MR out of it for now, and focus on marketing. For SEO purposes alone social networks unarguably are a powerful driver of traffic to sites (see chart for past 30 days www.tomhcanderson.com stats).

Take this blog for instance where 20% of the traffic comes from LinkedIn. Arguably, these 20% are expensive in terms of effort spent moderating and maintaining the NGMR discussion board on LinkedIn. On the other hand, although I do have more followers than anyone else in market research on Twitter (close to 50,000), other than setting a strategy and seeing it through, I’ve spent rather little time on this network. Yet Twitter has generated well over 10% of the traffic, a great ROT (Return on Time). [Facebook, is third for me with about 3-5%.The same is true of traffic to Anderson Analytics.]

Even so, my feelings on Twitter are mixed. I called it the “Babylon of Spam” the other day, and though I know many would disagree, I still view it mainly as a tool for marketers. I’ve always been, and will continue to be, doubtful of Twitters long-term viability. To me it seems to make no sense why having a better strategy/tactics should allow someone like PDiddy (2.5million followers) or Ashton Kutcher (4.5 million) to have millions more followers than CNN (<1million). I find it hard to understand why Kraft Foods with only 3,500 followers can justify the marketing/time expenditure. Neither of the above have much interesting content, rather they are taking advantage of a temporary frenzy. If Twitter has different rules for some users rather than others, it will likely decrease interest. Right now a very large proportion of Twitter users are interested in Twitter solely because of the PR/SEO opportunity. Take it away and it will become much less interesting to us. Facebook and LinkedIn technically offer everything Twitter does and much more, but without the same PR/SEO opportunity.
I admit, if Twitter turns our accounts back on later this week, I’ll continue to Tweet as well. But either way I won’t be holding my breath expecting Twitter to be a meaningful long-term marketing or market research option.

Unlike many market researchers involved in Next Gen Research, I tend to turn clients away who come to me asking, “can Anderson Analytics text mine Twitter for us? We want to know what people are saying on there”. The reason for this is that these potential clients tend to be one time clients. The decision to text analyze Twitter or any other source should be thought thorough. Begin by asking a broader question such as “How can my company better leverage social media to promote our services/products?”, then ask “Does text analyzing Twitter make sense as part of the insights needed to answer this question?”. If we think the answer is yes, Anderson Analytics will be happy to text mine Twitter data for you as part of the project. If we don’t think it will help answer at least some specific questions; we won’t. But don’t worry, I’m sure you’ll find a few thousand “Twitter consultants” out there who would be willing to help you even if we don’t.

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Tom H. C. Anderson – Anderson Analytics