Company failures: Why is Twitter so difficult?

by Urs E. Gattiker on 2012/03/18 · 55 comments 11,139 views

in c micro-blogging Twitter

Twitter Success Stories:
Are you ready for excellent ROI (return on investment) with Twitter for your B2B (business to business) or B2C (business to consumer) outfit? We tell you why so many micro-blogging efforts fail.

Others have said one should not dream about finding clients through Twitter conversations. What is your opinion? I outline why caution is important and what you can do to succeed.

1. Do not trust user numbers

By the end of 2009, the number of Twitter users reached over 75 million, with 6.2 million new user accounts every month. But even then, a large number of Twitter accounts were inactive: about 25 percent had zero followers and 40 percent had not sent a single tweet.

In March 2011, Twitter still stated on its About page that it had 175 million registered users, but only 56 million followed eight or more accounts. By that time, Facebook had 600 million users, all active at least once every month…

By February 2012 it was reported that Twitter boasts 50 million daily users. However, if 5 percent of accounts are responsible for 95 percent of all tweets, does this make sense for your business? Can you trust these numbers? We explain the problem below.

In the meantime, sign up like thousands of others to get our trend reports – before your competitors do:


2. KLM urban legends – Twitter is not scaleable

Twitter afficionado try to convince us that Twitter is great for sCRM (social customer relationship management) – except it fails in practice. One reported example shows the power of social media: a KLM passenger got stranded in Schiphol and complained on Twitter about not having any water to drink.

Within an hour, a KLM representative found and gave him a bottle of water. This kind of Twitter ‘water courier’ service is certainly not scaleable or logical.

However, the better customer experience means that KLM’s flight does not get delayed or cancelled, either.

By the way, why wait an hour for water when Schiphol’s facilities offer perfectly drinkable and FREE tap-water? If everyone whines about water, will KLM start employing hundreds of water carriers to patrol the departure lounge? Doubtful.

3. Guy Kawasaki is wrong – eyeballs don’t matter

Guy Kawasaki is a really smart guy, and likeable, too. I recently watched another of his speeches where he pointed out that social media is all about eyeballs, and Twitter in particular. So I decided to do an acid test, and checked to see how many people click on Guy’s links.

We collected about 100 examples but let me just show an average one for a day in February where he tweeted a link for his daily ‘digital newspaper’. What a surprise, 70 clicks. Okay always understimates these links. Even if we double this number, only 150 out of about 500,000 followers means a click-through rate of less than 0.03 percent.

Is that impressive as a rate of engagement on Twitter?

click on image - Twitter resonance versus eyeballs - the winner is not Guy Kawasaki but...

Of course, if those 150 people pay top dollar to attend another speech he gives the next week, this really matters. Put differently, 80 to 200 of my Twitter followers generally click a link. All I care about is that some of these people (eventually) use our software, read our blog, hire CyTRAP Technology Services in the near future, etc. Those who just want my news, I do not fancy that much because those people will likely never ever hire us, or use our benchmarking service.

4. Forget measuring your tweets’ ROI

I love social media gurus that tell you to define your goals. But going on to write something like, Your goals should be achievable and measurable… Have realistic expections. After campaigns prepare your reports, is too vague and sounds a bit theoretical to me. You?

Yes, it works if you are a food truck or restaurant. To illustrate, if you want to limit waiting lines during rush hour at lunch, you can use Twitter to get your regulars in early to ease seating pressure for walk-ins. In return, offer them a beverage or dessert if they order before 11:30 or after 13:30. Is it measurable? You bet.

But what about if you have a carpenter shop or a firm with ten chartered accountants; will it work? Nope. Because I do not think you will get the kind of clients you want by tweeting a discount coupon. Do you?

Bottom line

Should you go on using navel gazing metrics or should you drop it all? Consider the above four points, be realistic and decide. I use Twitter to get information from those I follow, and share what I find interesting for my work. Nothing more, nothing less. Is it worth it? It is for me to learn, but to get clients? I do not know, but it is also not critical, because I did not begin using Twitter for this purpose, and I do not intend to start now. For me it is about intelligence-gathering and that I surely get with my lists.


More about Twitter success, failure and having an impact – search (click to query).
Blog posts in category: micro-blogging and Twitter (click to query).

Are you with me on these trends?
Please share your thoughts below (click to write).
@ComMetrics writes about – Company failures: Why is Twitter so difficult? | Tweet This

Urs E. Gattiker, Ph.D. - CyTRAP Labs - ComMetrics.

The author: This post was written by social media marketing and strategy expert Urs E. Gattiker, who also writes about issues that connect social media with compliance, and thrives on the challenge of measuring how it all affects your bottom line.
His latest book, Social Media Audit: Measure for Impact, is scheduled to appear from Springer Science Publishers in Summer, 2012.
Connect with the author using: Email | Twitter | Google+ | Xing

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  • guest

    europian ppl dont like twitter at all,they dont no how to use it,its to much complicated to use !!

    • Urs E. Gattiker

      @0b97923b9b056d196be301da839c1856:disqus Thanks for your feedback.
      I am not sure if I can agree with you that European people do not like Twitter because it is too complicated.
      In Switzerland, Slovakia or Belgium there are a few million that have an account and use it quite regularly it looks like. Of course, agreed this does not mean that the masses have started using Twitter as much as this seems to be the case for Facebook.

      Nevertheless, I find Twitter is easier to use than Facebook will ever be.  But that could just be me :-)
      Thanks for sharing.

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  • Carla Gentry CSPO

    I agree that trying to measure “Twitter as a whole” is difficult if you
    look at the “50,000 foot level” – I measure, “me on all social networks”
    and my web site traffic – that is it, I try not to over-analysis
    anything. I care about my followers, I post good content for them and
    future followers, I am respectful, thankful and humble but I don’t have
    500,000 people following me (even if I did I would still follow the same
    guideline as above).

    For me, it’s not always about the click through rate, it is about
    “REACH” – I talk about a field that has been ignored for too long “MATH”
    via -> Analysis, Statistic, Modeling, Data Mining, Target
    Marketing… I want as many people as possible to see that great things
    can be accomplished and you don’t have to have 1/2 million followers to
    do this. Sharing, Teaching, Learning, Friendship, Engaging Conversation –
    this is what people really want, they don’t want to engage with someone
    who doesn’t have time for them or ignores them completely (which could
    explain your above example, I have never had Guy thank me for a RT, so I
    stopped RT’ing him, others may have too)….

    In a world where there are umpteen Social Networks and many many choices
    of where, when and how to post – one thing helps good
    marketer/people….. “HEART & SOUL”. Are you patting yourself on the
    back that you have 500,000 followers or are you talking with them,
    providing good content and teaching them how to become a better tweeter
    or marketer?

    Twitter is a great resource, I learn something everyday and I get plenty
    of leads and clients from Social Media but I never forget that it’s my
    responsibility to provide content and engagement. Provide something
    useful and they will follow but get too full of yourself and they will
    someone else. Happy Tweeting :o)

    For Urs – “I use Twitter to get information from those I follow, and share what I find interesting for my work. Nothing more”

    This kinda upset me to think that you only follow me to attain info from
    me for your work, I would hope that you would engage and maybe share
    your thought with me and others without it being some kind of petri dish
    experiment. Sometimes you tweet to someone, just to ask how they are
    doing, or how their kids are….that’s why they call it “Social” Media
    not Experiment Media, just my two cents, don’t mean to offend.


    • Urs E. Gattiker

      I answer @twitter-119802433:disqus first with my personal reply :-)
      I really use Twitter to learn …. and this means use it in my work.
      – I follow you because you offer good material, absolutely and 
      – I share with you, as one of my followrs, things I find that might be of interest to you as well (tweet the url)

      I am a more private person so if I ask you on how you are doing or your kids, I will do this via e-mail and not for the whole wide world to see/read.  Just me I figure I am shy that way. But I am sure I am not the only one who has a problem opening up so publicly…. maybe I am 
      Thanks for sharing.

    • Urs E. Gattiker

      @twitter-119802433:disqus writes:
      “For me, it’s not always about the click through rate, it is about 
      “REACH” – I talk about a field that has been ignored for too long “MATH”
      via -> Analysis, Statistic, Modeling, Data Mining, Target 
      Marketing… I want as many people as possible to see that great things 
      can be accomplished and you don’t have to have 1/2 million followers to 
      do this.”
      In that regard you are similar to @GuyKawasaki:twitter in that you want as many people to see your reply as possible….. 
      Nevertheless, this means like I wrote:  People need to care and read what you share. In my example from Guy it did not work.

      @data_nerd:disqus writes: “Sharing, Teaching, Learning, Friendship, Engaging Conversation -this is what people really want, they don’t want to engage with someone who doesn’t have time for them or ignores them completely (which could explain your above example, I have never had Guy thank me for a RT, so Istopped RT’ing him, others may have too)….”

      I would say people share to promote themselves as this study indicates:
      ===> You share because – you find it good and want to promote yourself (click to read) 

      But thanking for RTs is something I try but I do not always succeed.  Have to do it systematically on Saturdays to make sure I do not forget people.

      Carla, thanks so much for sharing and pointing out important things I forgot!

  • Vanette

    Good points.   So many people/companies jump on the newest trend without evaluating whether it  really makes sense for their business.  

    • Urs E. Gattiker

      Dear @ee03a237ee507e9a89ac98dc285d9c6e:disqus 
      Thanks so much for your feedback.  Yes, you are so right unless we have

      a – what is the purpose for using social media
      b – strategy
      c – objectives set to be achieved

      only then should we decide what technology might or might not help us. Yes, Twitter could be a no starter for some businesses.

      Thanks for sharing

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  • linda_irvine

    I use Twitter as a news feed. I adore it for that. I might, in future, trickle original content to my followers – but only if I decide that content is valuable. I wouldn’t/don’t typically recommend use Twitter as a primary marketing channel. If your offering/content is spectacular enough, Twitter as an augment to other marketing strategies is a great idea. I believe it all comes down to relevance and value — in all marketing channels.

    In the issue of thanking ppl for retweets, I remain undecided. I suppose it’s nice when someone thanks me for a RT, but not essential – to be honest, I find just standard RT thanks a bit cluttery. I’d really rather someone replied with a relevant quote, or another article… not just a thanks for the RT (or even thanks for the follow – to me it’s all about value). Just my twocents on a Thursday :-)

    • Urs E. Gattiker

      @5d4fb5b21383952572412ebd05417c01:disqus thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your insights.

      I agree, unless it is relevant to your target audience why bother or worse, nobody will listen.  Nevertheless, many follow the ‘fmaous’ ones like sheep and, of course, forget to even read those people’s tweets.  Sometimes it must be like an echo chamber.

      I never thank for a follow, that seems to me similar to noise in another person’s Twitter stream. But @twitter-119802433:disqus would probably disagree with me on this one :-). I also prefer to read the other person’s tweet and hopefully find one I can share with my followers as well. Such a RT is a better way of recognising the other person’s valuable content and hard work. Of course, it is less personal but if you have many each day how else can one do it.

      I want a live besides Twitter :-)  Incidentally, Linda, I wrote something about how to use Twitter lists smartly here that might be useful to you:
      ===> Twitter lists: How to reap the rewards (click on link).

      Hope to read your next comment soon. Merci.

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  • guest

    i understand twitter is for bussniss important,but for me twiitter is just a kind of book to read,
    like as i said before its to complicated to use also coz my english is to bad to use ,i have very important follows too,but i dont care that much
    im just a simply soul,and use twiitter for fun,i wish you all much followers,and all the best
    and thank you so much for all your links in your letter,it will surly help me somehow

    • Urs E. Gattiker

      You are welcome, glad it was useful to you.

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