I have been working on a social media strategy for a client whose target market is the banking industry – not consumers but professional bankers. So the question arises, do bankers use social media? The answer, of course, is yes and no. There certainly are LinkedIn forums that specialize in bank marketing and bank-related issues. But are Facebook and Twitter a logical extension of a social media campaign aimed at a narrow professional audience?
I recently read about a new study from Edison Research that debunks a lot of the conventional wisdom from other marketing experts about the power of Twitter. According to the article posted on Marketing Charts, while there is a high recognition level for Twitter, recognition does not necessarily turn into action:
“The Edison study doesn’t discount the popularity of Twitter – in fact it reports that 87% of respondents have heard of Twitter, compared to 88% who had heard of Facebook. The findings also suggest that Twitter users are hyper-aware of brands on Twitter. The study found that 42% learn about products and services via Twitter and 41% provide opinions about products/services. An additional 19% seek customer support. A grand total of 49% follow brands or companies….
“Here is the rub: the data also suggests that Twitter users do not necessarily convert brand awareness to usage, Social Media Today says. Although 87% of Americans have heard of Twitter – only 7% actually use it. Compare that to Facebook, where 88% have heard of it, and 41% have a profile, which is a conversion rate approaching 50%, Social Media Today notes.Clearly some companies belong on Twitter – namely brands that are seeking to shape consumers’ opinions and possibly engage them in a conversation.”
So Twitter is not a marketing panacea (but what is?). The study reveals that there are some companies that probably won’t benefit from a Twitter campaign, including:
- Companies that don’t have a mobile strategy or presence. There is a strong correlation between Twitter and handheld devices (63 percent of Twitter users access the network from a mobile device, and 73 percent send SMS text messages).
- Mass-market brands with well-known products will probably not benefit from a Twitter program. These consumers already have a well-formed opinion about such brands, and a Twitter discussion may create more opportunities to denigrate the brand rather than support it.
- Small businesses that don’t have a strong online or social media presence. This seems like a no-brainer. If you haven’t created an online marketing foundation, then Twitter can’t help you build an online presence. As a micro-blogging tool, Twitter is an ideal extension of other promotional programs, giving y9ou another opportunity to drop online bread crumbs that lead back to home base. It doesn’t function well on its own, without a foundation.
I also have to wonder about the value of Twitter for targeted marketing programs aimed at a niche group, like bankers. My own research shows that bankers are using Twitter as part of their own programs to attract new depositors, which makers perfect sense. Banks and credit unions want to leverage social media to communicate directly with customers, but are bankers turning to Twitter to learn about banking trends and rates? It’s hard to say. However, if you can find a way to offer insightful, valuable information in 140 characters or less, then you can build a strong Twitter following, or at least include Twitter as part of your strategy to get prospects to find the path to your online doorstep.