Why engaging influencers is even more important given recent Twitter research

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I recently read an article by Tom Webster about the fact that measuring social media is limited largely by the fact that most data comes from Twitter rather than Facebook which has far more users, which limits the over all data a business receives from social media programs like Radian6. The fact that Facebook is a closed ecosystem has been a frustration of mine for some time, its one of the reasons that Twitter is one of my darlings, there is so much I can see and measure there. Alas, as Tom’s presentation on The Social Habit 2011 points out, according to Arbitron only 8% of Americans are using Twitter, despite incredibly high awareness numbers. Facebook continues to dominate the social scene, particularly in brand interaction.

But here’s the deal:  8% of Americans is still 20 million users. Please tell me any other marketing or promotions avenue which gives you access to 20 million users for free. Seriously. When I worked in magazines and tradeshows if I had been delivering 20 million readers or attendees, almost everyone one of my client’s problems would have been solved, and I would have been a hero. Alas, here’s the rub: there is a lot of junk in that group of 20 million people. Some of them will apply to you, some of them won’t. Some of them are active users (3 in 10 user Twitter daily), some of them aren’t.  But those who are using Twitter are apparently using the service more and more and Twitter users are more likely to use multiple platforms. Combine this with the fact that because Tweets are so easily indexed by search engines and its easy to see how the power of Twitter and its influencers can extend beyond the power of this single platform. Despite the short comings of services like Klout and Peer Index, there is significant relevance in identifying influencers who can evangelize your product. In fact, in light of the recent data, its all the more important to identify these people. Because those people on Twitter will almost assuredly be on Facebook (since 98% of Social Networkers are Facebook users).  Think of Twitter as the gateway drug to Facebook. While most Facebook users do not have a Twitter account, most Twitter users will have a Facebook account. And since businesses can not reach out to people who aren’t already fans, finding key influencers on Twitter will likely lead you to key influencers on Facebook. When you merge the idea that Twitter’s users are heavy social media users and typically cross platform users, with the Forrester Social Technographics information that suggests that MOST people are not social media creators or even critics, but spectators the importance of influencers becomes even more obvious. Because, generally speaking, most users (except influencers) use social media to listen, rather than actively engage.

For businesses considering a social media strategy, the question for Twitter clearly has to be: can we identify some key influencers and engage them?

What say you? Do you agree with me that Twitter is the gateway drug to Facebook?



The Social Habit 2011 (download from SlideShare here)

Twitter X Factors (download from SlideShare here)

Tom Webster and BrandSavant.com

Forrester Research Social Technographics