Sunday, September 30, 2012

The truth about twitter, tweets and trends

Try saying the post heading three times fast!

Let me first point out that I am a very recent member of the twitter universe or ‘twitterverse’, and as a new recruit I've come to the realization that trying to figure out what works with twitter, and what doesn't, requires full-time commitment. I'll also add that becoming an active tweeter has, dare I say it, changed me into 'THAT' guy, you know the one - you wake up and the first thing you do is turn on your phone to find out the latest tweet or trend? It's part fun, part frightening - at least in my eyes, to know that I'm enjoying an app that actually has a legitimate use and not something that promises to be something it isn't.

As a new 'twidiot', the more I've researched about twitter, the more fascinating I find it, particularly from a strategic perspective. Ok, so you may not be as enamoured of twitter as say, me, and you might have trouble believing it's here to stay. If so, then check out these figures for typical week of tweeting:

Now in case you're wondering, that number for Wednesday would be 669,000 tweets. For that day alone! Are your eyes opened a bit wider now? These numbers are courtesy of tweetstats. For some really great additional information on tweeting and trends from a statistical viewpoint, check out this site as well.

The above sites and numbers can provide you with a fairly good grasp of the power of twitter. Now think of what it can do as a vehicle for messaging. Many organizations and companies are using twitter for exactly that purpose, through twitter-promoted accounts, tweets, and trends.

One of the biggest single goals for any organization is to increase their market size. Twitter promoted accounts are one way to accomplish this while going a step further - by isolating audiences into precise segments, providing the ability to deliver messages in a much more targeted way. You won't realize the value of promoted accounts unless you are an active member of twitter. One of the main features of the promoted account is that twitter will attempt to match your account/followers, with similar accounts you may have missed. This is a beneficial feature, especially when it comes to creating targeted messages.

Twitter trends are lists of topics that are considered to be 'hot', or the most popular in twitterverse. If your organization decides to invest in a twitter-promoted trend, you are guaranteed that your 'topic' will remain at the top of the list for the duration of the day. There is no confusing a promoted trend from regular trending topic, because they are clearly marked with a yellow arrow, plus the word 'promoted', is printed beside the topic word. Sort of looks like this (courtesy of American Express):

As we all know, nothing in social media is ever 'free'. There is and always will be a cost somewhere, and these twitter-based promotional vehicles are no exception. So what is the price point organizations will be required to pay in order to be 'top of the heap', so to speak? Promoted accounts are based on ‘cost per follower’ (CPF) basis i.e., you pay twitter only if someone follows you. The minimum CPF charge is fifty cents to approximately two dollars. So this means your organization will be charged by twitter for whoever decides to follow you, which could turn out to be a very lucrative investment or a somewhat pricey endeavour, depending on how many people choose to follow you. For promotional tweets, you can expect to pay anywhere between 50 cents and five dollars for each promoted tweet, and to remain at the top of the trending cycle for a full day, it will run you about $125,000 (US). In Canada we seem to be cheaper at $45,000. Considering what advertising usually cost for other mediums i.e. TV, radio and print, $125,000 for the potential to reach millions of impressionable minds is absolute peanuts to a large organization. Smaller companies may or will have issues justifying the cost.

Clearly I'm on board with all of this, especially from a pr perspective. Even if I was representing a small organization, despite the prohibitive costs I would find a way to utilize this medium. I know that at the end of the day the number of impressions you make on twitter aren't quite the same as actually getting people to purchase your product or utilize your services, but grabbing attention (positively) and dare I say it, controlling the conversation is exactly what we, as pr practitioners, are paid to do. There is a future in twitter based promotions and we, in pubic relations, should be all over it!


  1. Great personal touch and useful links. Your posts are so easy to read as you take your time explaining and putting things in context. would be great if you could alert us to good promoted tweets/accounts that you come across in your daily experience with twitter

  2. Thanks, a fellow classmate mentioned that I write the way I talk so I hope the posts come across a bit more personal (I tried but I just can't speak techie haha). I'll definitely let you know of any great twitter accounts!