Social Media Hastens the Adoption Cycle & Twitter vs. Facebook for Marketers

October 2nd, 2009 by Steve Caputo

I’m on my way home from some successful meetings in Austin, Texas and finally find a moment to catch up on some trade tidbits, in this case, from IAB Smartbrief, and wouldn’t you know, there’s not one, but two items worth pausing to consider. The first calls out Nielsen’s recent survey that “Time spent by users on social media, as well as marketers’ spending in the segment, have posted strong growth over the past year.” Now isn’t that sort offacebook & twitter usage a “duh” moment, especially if you’re paying any attention to that space, either as a user or a marketer? And it’s my guess, that if you’ve found your way to this blog, then you’re paying attention. Nielsen is simply validating what we’ve seen and experienced, but I do think that in this report, there lies the revelation of a new trend.

In great part, traditional marketers have historically been slow to adopt new channels for their marketing…well, at least slower than the pace of consumers adopting that same channel. Why? Quite sensibly, they are looking to spend their money “where the eyeballs are.” So the migration of marketing spending from radio to television (in the 50s) network TV to cable, from offline to online, from DM to email all happened after the wave of household penetration of each medium had achieved a majority. However, in each case, the migration happened faster than the one before it. (Are we moving at a faster pace? Nah, that’s just your imagination…). The term Web 2.0 was coined in 2005 (?), and yes, you can find articles each year between then and now that tout it as “the next big thing”. The fact is, until last year, the critical mass of the population had not discovered this mutation of its beloved web, and it’s liberating addiction (there’s an oxymoron for you…). What strikes me about this latest digital (r)evolution is that marketers are getting there quicker.

“Users logged 17% of their online time on social networks and blogs in August, compared to 6% for the same month in 2008, and ad outlays in such venues over the same period jumped 119% to $108 million, according to Nielsen.”

That’s an 11% increase in consumer activity in this arena vs. a 119% increase in advertiser involvement. Hmmm. Is that the marketing treadmill I feel speeding up?

The second article talks about consumer receptivity to marketing messages. It seems that consumers are more prone to interact with marketers on Twitter than they are on Facebook, (or any other social network, for that matter). This time, Interpret tell us that;

“Nearly one in four Twitter users surveyed had either reviewed or rated products online in August vs. 12% for users of other social nets…” (That means TWICE as likely to enter the conversation on Twitter),

“and one in five Twitterers were apt to look at company profiles or click on ads or sponsored links, compared to 11% and 9%, respectively, of non-Twitter users.” (Again, that looks like 20% vs. about 10%, or TWICE as likely.)

If you remember, some of the earliest marketing stories about Twitter spoke of brands like JetBlue and Comcast and Zappos responding to consumer complaints via twitter, in what must have shocked those twitterer as a truly personal and timely concern on the part of the brand. Could it be that brands were getting to the party early? Are these actually marketing success stories that predate the population of users on Twitter reaching critical mass? It’s just a thought on my part, but maybe consumers got there after the twitter landscape had been painted as an arena for brands to converse with their users. That might account for consumers’ predisposition to this channel as one through which the ears of the marketers can be reached. Frustrated? Got a complaint? Not happy with a trusted brand’s ad? Just tweet it and see what happens.

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