Dealers and Twitter

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To “tweet” or not to “tweet”? -- That is the question. A year or so ago, most of us didn’t even know Twitter existed much less if it might be a business tool. Today, the picture is better albeit still cloudy.

I remember when someone asked me: “Do you tweet?” I answered: “No, I got shots for that!” Still, today we must recognize that what’s been dubbed microblogging, specifically a micromessaging service named Twitter, has become the current hot thing to do.
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Twitter is rather simple social medium. Your message must be very short, limited to 140 characters or less. Obviously, that means your followers (people who tune into you) don’t have to spend much time reading your long “tweets” – that’s what your message is called, a “tweet.” But it all raises interesting questions: like, just who is on Twitter?

Twitter was launched only two years ago. At first, it contained mostly mindless chatter. Arguably, some say it still is! But its growth has been explosive. At the same time, most Twitter users are really new to this game. A whopping 72.5 percent of all Twitter users just joined the service between January and May of this year, according to “An In-Depth Look Inside the Twitter World,” a study by Toronto-based Sysomos, Inc., a leading social media analytics company.

Moreover, most of the users don’t say very much: 85.3 percent tweet less than one time per day. It’s only a small group of users that account for most of the action. Of all Twitter activity, 75 percent comes from just 5 percent of the users.

The majority of all Twitter users (53 percent) are women. Moreover, they are young. Among users who disclose their age, 81 percent are 29 or younger, 66 percent are under 25! As expected, the more followers a person has the more that person tweets. But most people don’t have many followers. In fact, 94 percent have fewer than 100 followers.

So, how should dealers view Twitter -- a marketing opportunity or a hot fad? It depends on how you look at it. For example, for marine dealers the demographics of the current Twitter users – much younger than the predominant boat buying age group – would indicate it falls short as a serious marketing tool. Still, lots of businesses have reportedly invaded Twitter this year to do at least two things: track what people might be saying about the company or product on one hand (Twitter is searchable) while possibly conversing with customers or prospects on the other hand. After all, it is a conversation medium.
Using Twitter can really suck up the time, too. Conducting searches, for example, can find you plowing through hundreds of tweets, most not helpful. Experts say it’s best to strictly limit your time on Twitter and primarily follow industry peers.

Conversing on Twitter can also consume time if you regularly post updates. Moreover, making your tweets nothing more than an ad channel will quickly make you an ignored tweeter. Like anything else, then, if you’re going to get involved with Twitter, some research and a careful plan of how and why you’re using it will make it more effective and rewarding if, indeed, it can be rewarding for your particular business.

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