Despite the hype, marketers are yet to tap into the popularity of micro-blogging site Twitter. Is Twitter the correct vehicle for marketing messages?
By Stuart Lauchlan, news and analysis editor
Despite Twitter gaining widespread notoriety among businesses and celebrities alike, only 2% of firms have used the micro-blogging site as a marketing tool, according to new statistics.
The survey by WebTrends also found that traditional marketing tools such as eShots (46%) and web analytics (37%) are still at the vanguard of the internet marketing machine, while online advertising (35%) only just surpassed optimised search (34%) as the third most used means of communicating with customers.
Better data analysis is seen as critical in helping to inform decisions that drive sales by 65% of respondents, and a variety of technologies and analysis tools are available to the internet marketer to support this process. However the research found that traditional methods still lead the way over emerging Web 2.0 technologies.
"Twitter is undoubtedly the hottest thing on the web at the moment. It has been fully embraced by the mainstream and millions of people are now receiving blow-by-blow updates on the lives of their friends and celebrities," said Colette Wade, marketing director EMEA at WebTrends. "It has also impacted greatly on the media – publications are now tweeting headlines and journalists are using Twitter to share stories, appeal for information and post their own scoops before anyone else.
"However, it comes as no surprise that the business world has been more circumspect. Many are simply not sure how to use it and, even if they could, they wouldn’t be sure of what to say and who exactly they would be saying it to."
Colette Wade, marketing director EMEA, WebTrends
Recently, CRM vendor Salesforce also acknowledged the trend and struck a deal to allow its users to link directly to Twitter to monitor customer feedback and experience.
But Wade added that some firms are also concerned about the implications of individuals posting personal views that could be misconstrued as representative of the companies they work for. "Businesses also don't want to be perceived as ruining something that has taken-off organically and is essentially a fun communication tool for individuals," she continued. "The people that built these communities can be very cynical of clumsy corporate involvement."
To compound these concerns, a new blog was recently set up by Twitter users to log lame attempts at using the micro-blogging site for marketing.
And Wade's advice to businesses who want to jump onto the Twitter bandwagon is to think carefully about the message they want to convey before embracing it - and indeed consider whether or not Twitter is actually the correct vehicle for that message at all, irrespective of its popularity.