Consumers are turning away from blatant “in-your-face” advertising on billboards and in magazines. They’re tired of the one-way, megaphone-style messages from decades past. They crave a new type of brand communication – and brands can give it to them, thanks to social media.
Twitter breaks down the barrier between consumers and brands. With each 140-character message, brands have the opportunity to establish a genuine connection with their fans.
But there’s a catch: brands have to treat Twitter like the new form of communication that it is, not just another platform for sending the same static, one-way messages they’ve sent in the past.
According to Sprout Social, brands can expect to see an average of 60 monthly inbound messages for every 1000 Twitter followers they have. However, in the same study, Sprout Social found that a massive 4 out of 5 consumer inquiries on social media go unanswered – this is a huge, and still largely untapped, opportunity for brands who prioritize conversations on Twitter.
So what exactly are “conversations” on Twitter, and how are they different from other forms of 140-character communication?
Some examples of conversations include:
- Asking and answering questions
- Participating in a hashtag chat
- Sharing and expanding on ideas
- Using @mentions and @replies to speak with a customer one-on-one
And non-conversational tweets include:
- Sharing content
- Telling a joke
- Tweeting a quote
- Even promoted tweets
Conversational tweets are inherently better for a brand than one-off tweets for a number of reasons.
First, the very fact that a brand is sending multiple tweets and engaging with their audience means they will see higher impressions and greater reach. The sheer volume of tweets increases as a business adopts a conversation strategy.
During a Twitter chat, for example, brands tend to get fantastic exposure – and it’s all because they’re taking the time to have a conversation with their fans. Take Stanford’s Medicine X program for instance. Once a week, they host a live Tweetcast that encourages participation from students and healthcare professionals around the world. The hundreds of interactions that each Tweetcast produces means greater reach and exposure for the program.
Second, interactions may lead to more earned engagement. These are meaningful replies and favorites from a brand’s followers. Since their social activity is the result of a conversation, these engaged followers will be more invested in their responses to the brand.
Lastly, conversations have the added benefit of improving a brand’s sentiment. Consumers feel more positively toward a brand when they can connect with it.
According to statistics from Twitter, nine out of ten Twitter users have already engaged in a conversation with or about an SMB, and 76 percent have tweeted directly to an SMB. And clearly, those SMBs who respond and take the time to have a conversation are faring better than their tight-lipped counterparts: 90 percent of Twitter users who got a reply feel more positively toward that particular SMB.
Conversations are a crucial part of a brand’s use of Twitter. It’s clear that customers are already seeking out those brands that take the time to engage with them, rather than those shooting off a one-off promotional message every hour, on the hour. The brands that are able to have genuine conversations with their Twitter followers are going to be the big winners down the road.
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