For the past three semesters I persuaded, coaxed and begged some 50 digital marketing students to start using Twitter " just do it! About 10% made an earnest attempt and remarked that they were really getting the swing of it. Then the course ended, and poof! they disappeared into ethernet air.
Twitter is the micro-blogging, social media-hyped, information superhighway broadcast tool that is now used by a measly 1.45% of the Canadian Internet population: some 350,000 people. In contrast, 19% of Americans tweet representing about 55% (19 million) of the 45 million worldwide Twitter users .
Believe it or not, 72% of Twitter users joined in the first five months of 2009. And the majority of broadcast posts (90% of all tweets) were from a small 10% minority of prolific users, while just 1% use Twitter more than once a week (see the stats). Twitter quitters are the more than 60% of U.S. Twitter users who fail to return the following month after signing up.
Twitter remains in its infancy of adoption in Canada, with its usage both sporadic and concentrated among a small group of active, enthusiastic users. It seems that the digital marketing students were representing well " for better or for worse.
Experiments and Results
None of these statistics though necessarily detract from those businesses and individuals who are thriving while experimenting with the Twitterati. Companies touted as having made the best use of Twitter include some major brands like @DellOutlet, who attributes US$3 million dollars in converted sales through their Twitter account. Others include @ComcastCares, @VirginAmerica, @JetBlue and @Zappos.
Small business successes include a Korean BBQ taco truck that drives around Los Angeles, California serving hungry followers through @KogiBBQ " they tweet locations and times where the truck is parked.
Even an exceptionally creative home-based cake decorator from Mississauga, Ontario @CakeorDeathCA has grown her custom cake business to be a supplier of some 300 pill box fashioned cakelets for last months LG Fashion Week in Toronto.
These companies have chosen to use (um, test) Twitter - early adopters experimenting with the broadcast site without the benefit of best practices or measured success to guide them. For this reason alone, they deserve our attention so that we too can learn when and how to add Twitter to the marketing mix.
With that in mind, Test Tube Twitter: Part II will discuss three essential ingredients to be mixed in the beaker for your Twitter launch success.
Michelle Corsano is the President of Burst Technology Marketing " you can follow her on Twitter @mcorsano.