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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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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