The Most Influential Consumers Online are on Twitter

Twitter is a human seismograph and it represents a transformative channel where everyday people possess the ability to affect actions. The cloud of collective consciousness that houses our thoughts, experiences, and conversations is also a data trove for experts to measure and mine serendipitous and organized behavior and events.

Twitter is less of a social network in its design and operation and more of a series of interconnected social nicheworks. It brings together disparately connected personalities linked through friendship, admiration, education, and context. Here individuals align around people they know, would like to know, and bound by the topics, themes, and connections that attract them. This highly contextualized network, or as Twitter refers to it, an Interest Graph, offers individuals an organized, indexable, and searchable stream where they express sentiment, share observations and information, and also directly and indirectly communicate with one another.

For marketers, Twitter represents so much more than a real-time focus group. While the activity of its users is available for interpretation and analysis, the information contained in certain tweets published by notable individuals possess the capacity to influence agendas and resulting activities. And even in aggregate, everyday users define the direction of the stream and ultimately impact the subjects of their conversations.

Any organization impacted by outside activity must dedicate focus and resources to monitoring and analyzing activity, the extent to which it shapes perception today, and how to share and steer activity to benefit stakeholders online and in the real world.

A recent study by ExactTarget and CoTweet surveyed 1,500 consumers to identify top motivations for following brands on Twitter. As a result, we can glean insight into the expectations of elusive and prized consumers when interacting with brands online.

The ExactTarget and CoTweet study reveals an important part of the social ecosystem that demonstrates why businesses need to consider not just a 360 approach, but a socialized approach. Of the consumers surveyed, 72% publish blog posts at least monthly, 70% comment on blogs, and 61% write at least one product review monthly. The social consumer is vocal and they’re connected.  Considering now that audiences are shifting from content consumers to curators and creators, our market is now defined by audiences with audiences with audiences. Individuals maintain active and expanding social graphs and as they grow, the network effect only escalates.

In April 2010, Performics and ROI Research found that 33% of Twitter users share opinions about companies or products at least once per week. More so, 32% make recommendations while 30% seek guidance and direction.

Wait. What?

- 33% talk brands 1x per week

- 32% make recommendations

- 30% seek advice

Among other interesting stats, 20% of consumers follow a brand in order to interact with the company, which is much greater than those who subscribe to email newsletters or those who “like” brands on Facebook in order to remain connected. In fact, nine out of the ten stated that the most common reasons to follow a brand on Twitter involved the ability to obtain direct information from a company.

In other studies, upwards of 80% of Twitter users stated that for those deserving brands, following equated to referrals. Of those who followed brands, 51% did so because they were an existing customer and 44% expected discounts or promotions.

One of the more interesting data points to emerge was that men were more than twice as likely than women to follow brands on Twitter, 29% compared to 13%. This stat requires deeper analysis as it, on the surface, rivals two primary research pillars in my current work, 1) More women than men account for the overall Twitter population and 2) Women, in aggregate, are more influential than men on Twitter.

If you were to take one thing away from this research, it’s this…Twitter users are the most influential social consumers online today. This revelation is constant across many published research reports. Not only are they influential, they put their money where their Tweet is.

While money doesn’t grow on trees, it does however, grow on Tweets.

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  • http://www.jonaypelluz.com/ Jonay Pelluz

    Twitter and facebook are the places where the customer service of every single company must be, because it's where the customers are now. They used to be on your shop or they used to write to you by letter or email, now they tweet their ideas about your company and you have to be there to catch those ideas and thoughts and see in real time what your public think about you or your products… A few years ago without Internet a company was incomplete, now you have to add twitter and facebook… times are changing and we can see it on Twitter :-)

    • http://www.briansolis.com briansolis

      Absolutely Jonay!

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  • http://flavors.me/40deuce 40deuce

    That's really interesting data Brian.
    I know that these days I will hardly ever make a large purchase without reaching ou to Twitter to ask for other peoples thoughts on the product. It's become a world where we can interact with people we barely know, and there are some of those people that are more trusted on certain subjects than others, so their opinions travel further and carry more weight. I definitely take those people as experts (regardless of if they really are or not), and use their opinions in making my decisions.
    Previously I would have asked one of my close friends, who would probably know nothing about the subject, for advice and run with that. However now we pretty much have access to anyone in the world through different channels and we use them.
    I think that it's because of this reason companies are currently trying to lock down equations on “influence” because there are people who's opinions are taken over others on Twitter and there are people who are sought out for their expert advice by many people around the world. If a company can sway one of those peoples' opinions to favour their company over another, they gain an advantage that may not have even been possible to get a few years ago. That's my take on it anyways.

    Cheers,
    Sheldon, community manager for Sysomos

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  • http://ajleon.me/the-opportunity-cost-of-not-taking-yourself-seriously ajleon

    This data is very insightful, thanks for sharing. Also, it's interesting that you note the connections people make on twitter as the inception. We as twitter users, are sharing information about the things we like/buy/adore/hate, not simply with family and old friends, but with other content creators. The interesting thing about the sharing done on twitter, is that it is with “twitter friends”. And twitter friends are friends that we make on the basis of common interest as opposed to geography and history, therefore our suggestions have a greater likelihood of “sticking”. Great post, Brian, keep bringing the awesome. :)

  • Jerryi_

    great article man, i think this is happening in Mexico too, maybe a kind of slower but happening, every brand should care about where people is talking and sharing info, before was in a cafeteria,bar,restaurant,etc but now is on the web at any second with socialmedia and blogs. If companies are intelligent they can detect necessities and new idea just “listening” (reading) the people in the social media saving a lot of money

  • 0815

    ..the study did not answer how many people will stay in the bucket if you take-off all the marketers and agency workers (using Twitter as an Google Alert for potential customer/ competitor news). I expect almoust nobody ;)

  • http://stevegarfield.com Steve Garfield

    I bought (4) new tires at @sullivantire because they tweet AND show up to tweetups. I tweeted to them that I wanted to buy tires, they tweeted back, connected me with a salesperson, I made an appointment, got new tires.

    • http://www.briansolis.com briansolis

      Excellent story Steve. Thanks for sharing!

  • http://twitter.com/tedlsimon Ted L. Simon

    Great post and info, Brian. Certainly reinforces the need for Brands to establish the appropriate “listening tools” in order to stay abreast of what their consumers are really saying about them and to provide superior customer service.
    Cheers!
    Ted
    @tedlsimon

  • http://FasTake.com Yacine Baroudi – @FasTake

    Great post & stats Brian. One issue remains in addressing the so frequent comment: “Yeah… but my business is different”; i.e. whether these numbers apply across industries/business types and to what extent they differ OR are they, for the moment, somewhat skewed towards certain industries.
    Thoughts?

    • http://www.briansolis.com briansolis

      I think it's a stall tactic. Research always delivers the real answers….”actually, it is different and in fact, here are the exact people we need to reach based on my initial research…”

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  • http://twitter.com/anneecarson Annie Carson

    Very interesting stats, and I couldn't agree more that the most influential online consumers are found on Twitter. Because the people that are actively using Twitter are usually actively using other sites and maintaining and forming online relationships, these people are now very influential. It is also important to remember that because a huge majority of the population are on Twitter, and even more are on Facebook, this is where businesses need to be. Thanks again for the great post!

  • http://slavicavista.wordpress.com/ Slavica

    I have been wondering myself of real influence being on Twitter,does it make some differences,and now i must believe in positive result.Spending lots of time on Twitter ,i feel a need of approving my and everyone's effort to make some things happen,or some thinking to rise or change.And there are missed notices about someone's greater influence,coming up like leaders in some way?

  • http://twitter.com/AJCuervo A.J. Cuervo

    Loved the ending! (and the content, of course)

  • Ajagharbekian

    This a great post, indeed Twitter is becoming very important and brands who are not using it are falling behind. The numbers in the above blog post is a proof of this reality. Thank you Brian.

  • http://twitter.com/CERTPOINT CERTPOINT Systems

    This a great post, indeed Twitter is becoming very important and brands who are not using it are falling behind. The numbers in the above blog post is a proof of this reality. Thank you Brian.

  • http://twitter.com/CERTPOINT CERTPOINT Systems

    This a great post, indeed Twitter is becoming very important and brands who are not using it are falling behind. The numbers in the above blog post is a proof of this reality. Thank you Brian.

  • http://twitter.com/kyleplacy Kyle Lacy

    This post alone is argument enough for businesses to use Twitter!

  • http://mikewhite.co.uk Michael White

    It is strange that whilst so many of my friends will use Facebook, they don't see the point in Twitter. Think I'll share this post internally at work.

    • http://www.briansolis.com briansolis

      Please do Michael. Thank you for reading!

  • http://twitter.com/SocialBuzzers SocialBuzzers

    Hi Brain,

    Another good post, I always love reading your blog. I have a question though, the beauty of Twitter is some is mentioning about your brand our business, what if you are a small start up? how do you use twitter for marketing then? would be glad if you provide your expertise :)

  • http://twitter.com/personfucking Person Fucking

    gg

ABOUT ME

Brian Solis is a digital analyst, anthropologist, and also a futurist. In his work at Altimeter Group, Solis studies the effects of disruptive technology on business and society. He is an avid keynote speaker and award-winning author who is globally recognized as one of the most prominent thought leaders in digital transformation.

His most recent book, What's the Future of Business: Changing the Way Businesses Create Experiences (WTF), explores the landscape of connected consumerism and how business and customer relationships unfold in four distinct moments of truth. His previous book, The End of Business as Usual, explores the emergence of Generation-C, a new generation of customers and employees and how businesses must adapt to reach them. In 2009, Solis released Engage, which is regarded as the industry reference guide for businesses to market, sell and service in the social web.

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