Twitter Marketing: Sic et Non
“Is Twitter for Serious Marketers?,” is both the title of the article and the question Tom Davenport asks in the Harvard Business Review. He answers with an emphatic no:
“Do serious marketers spend a lot of time and energy on Twitter campaigns? I doubt it. Sure, go ahead and play around with it — it doesn’t cost much. But I defy you to do serious brand management in 140-character messages. I defy you to prove that Twitter users are your typical customer — unless you sell bubble tea or something similar — or that their tweets are a true reflection of their relationship with your company.”
“Let’s face it — Twitter is a fad. It has all the attributes of a fad, including the one that people like me don’t get its appeal. It has risen quickly and it will fall quickly. It’s this year’s Second Life — which, you may have noticed, nobody is talking much about anymore.”
And then of course, there’s the problem of monetizing Twitter–something no one has figured out how to do with the possible exception of NBA Commissioner David Stern, who fined Mark Cuban $25,000 for sending tweets critical of the officiating during a game.
There are those who disagree with Davenport, however. John Sviolaka argues in favor of the 140-character-at-a-time marketing platform in “Twitter: A Marketer’s Duct Tape,” also in the Harvard Business Review.
“While some people only follow a few dozen compatriots, Guy Kawasaki follows over 100,000 people and has almost 100,000 followers, as well as creating (with some help) over 28,000 tweets. As a pundit, Guy is using Twitter to build an ongoing audience. By way of comparison, the Boston Globe has a circulation in 2008 of about 350,000–which is falling at a rate of 8-9% per year.”
“But Twitter can do so much more. …the range of applications is spectacular, from providing truly instant online commentary for any off-line event, to the visualization of Super Bowl tweets developed by the New York Times, to Pepsi’s integration of Twitter with geographic information at the spectacularly popular South by Southwest Festival, to Whole Foods tweeting recipes. Almost every major media outlet is tweeting, the Apple App store has over 100 Twitter applications, and there are over 100 other free tools that have already bubbled up.”
Ultimately, I think Twitter will prove more useful than Second Life–not that that’s particularly difficult–but I suspect it will be one of many minor tools on the fringe of the marketing arsenal. I’m not sure there’s going to be a “next big thing” in marketing. Instead there may be dozens of little things. The interactive space will continue to fracture into smaller and smaller parts, and as it does, the complexity of the challenge facing marketers will increase geometrically. Just because it’s not comforting doesn’t mean it’s not likely.