Perspective from Zach Stanley: Twitter faces a challenge and anyone who has been following their stock since their IPO knows that. The user statistics back it up: 44% of registered Twitter users have never sent a tweet; less than 25% of registered users are active monthly users; and by some accounts more than 700 million registered accounts are completely inactive. But, Twitter’s challenge trying to grow their user base and engage those new users is …
Twitter faces a challenge and anyone who has been following their stock since their IPO knows that. The user statistics back it up: 44% of registered Twitter users have never sent a tweet; less than 25% of registered users are active monthly users; and by some accounts more than 700 million registered accounts are completely inactive.
But, Twitter’s challenge trying to grow their user base and engage those new users is a business problem. For those active Twitter users, that is not their issue. Their issue is too much going on all at once.
43.4 million Twitter users send more than one tweet a day. That adds up quickly. Approximately 5,700 tweets are sent every second.
I am by no means a power user, but I’m active on Twitter even though I fall squarely in the camp of a Twitter stalker – watching more than contributing to the conversation (just what Twitter the business is actively fighting against.) As part of my job, and partly as a regular distraction, I check Twitter eight or nine times a day. It’s an organized system, with TweetDeck easily splitting up incoming tweets by self-defined categories. But even so, I can hardly keep up with the conversation.
On Tuesday, a series of tweets came across from a Massachusetts political reporter and voracious tweeter David Bernstein, @dbernstein, about various statewide Democratic candidates joining a boycott against Staples. These tweets didn’t provide any context about the boycott other than, eventually, every statewide Dem had joined it. And no prior tweets from @dbernstein gave any context either about the boycott. Even though a quick Google search turned up more detail about the boycott, these tweets only confused me. Why were these candidates boycotting Staples and how come this is the first I’ve heard of the boycott?
This is a basic example with a simple solution, but all too often I read through Twitter and find streams of tweets riffing on some arcane issue, idea, or joke. It’s almost impossible to figure out what is going on without reading through hundreds of tweets to find the origin of the conversation.
Not only is this annoying, and another major business challenge for Twitter, this matters to our business. Everyone who works public affairs in-house has thought to themselves, and been told repeatedly, that they really should be on Twitter. But the question that subsequently arises is always some form of “ok, but how will Twitter help me achieve my business objectives?” When you consider the above, it’s more than tempting to write off Twitter as a playground for those with too much time on their hands – something with no business value.
But that assumption is wrong. I know Twitter has value as part of a public affairs campaign. I’ve seen it in action for many of our clients. Like any other digital tactic, following a set of best practices is critical. Here are a few we always tell our clients:
- Don’t sign up just to be “on Twitter”
- Understand how Twitter differs from other social media platforms and use it accordingly
- Don’t make Twitter a stand-alone tactic. Incorporate it into your larger campaign strategy
- Leverage other tactics, online or off, to best utilize your Twitter account
- Even though it’s only 140 characters, content is king on Twitter too
While not exhaustive, considering these factors as part of a digital public affairs campaign will give you a chance to break through the constant clutter, reach your audience, and get closer to achieving your objective.