No one will ever buy a car off Twitter. And no one, it’s assumed, would vote for a presidential candidate based on the contents of a tweet or the value of a promoted trend. So outside of being a breeding ground for dissatisfied customers and people who crave attention, what the heck is Twitter good for?
According to the Romney campaign, quite a bit. Enough, at least, to invest as much as $120,000 in a promoted trend on the day Romney speaks at the Republican National Convention (RNC). By doing so they will ensure that the Twittersphere is afire with chatter about his candidacy. Indeed, as reported by ClickZ, the BelieveinAmerica Promoted Trend that posted Thursday morning (followed later by RomneyRyan2012) has thus far created quite a stir.
$120,000 Twitter’s Worth
Here’s how it works: You pay Twitter around $120,000, and, for a day, your hashtag appears at the top of the Trends box on the left side of the page. You then ship off a few promoted tweets to the good people at Twitter, who promote them to the top of the stream as illustrated below. It makes no sense to purchase a trend without the support of tweets with which to sell your message. You can also buy Targeted Tweets, which allow you to send specific tweets to a subset of your followers, defined by location, devices and platforms.
It’s a simple recipe: take an event — say you’re speaking at the RNC. Add $120,000 or more, mix with a message that appeals to the broadest possible audience and serve up warm. You’re sure to get loads of positive and negative chatter, and lots of comments that have nothing at all to do with your brand, product or message. In fact, if you were to call Twitter the “Super Bowl” platform for social media, you might be right. The platform is uniquely designed to raise awareness and spread the word about an event, news, or other timely “in the moment” flashpoints. Consider, for example, the launch of the 2012 Beetle: The purchase of a Promoted Trend on Twitter the day of the vehicle’s launch resulted in Super Bowl levels of awareness. According to Twitter, there were close to 30,000 mentions of VW on the day of the reveal; the car and the brand had a reach of over 40 million impressions. At the time, it was one of the most successful branded tweets in Twitter history.
VW Beetle: Social Candy Corn
On the other hand, it didn’t directly or indirectly sell a single car. And it likely had zero impact on traffic to dealer sites or walk-in traffic to lots; nor did it help create waiting lists for the new vehicle. What the trend did was create awareness about the launch of the iconic Beetle, drove rivers of traffic to brand sites and exponentially increased the reach of the vehicle’s public relations launch.
Trouble is, if you don’t have six figures to drop on a tweet, or you only have a handful followers, Twitter loses some lustre. It seems a waste of time to “tweet” into an empty well and hope you get an answer back. Worse, there’s risk: According to eMarketer.com, a recent study by the Altimeter Group titled “Guarding the Gates: The Imperative for Social Media Risk Management,” found Facebook and Twitter to be the riskiest of social media platforms.
Twitter: Lighter Fluid for Your Online Reputation
Twitter, however, was universally viewed as the most risky social media platform: 93 percent of those surveyed said that Twitter presented severe, moderate, or mild risk. Twitter is dangerous, the study suggests, because it allows users to easily @mention a brand, drawing attention and spreading opinions very quickly. This makes it a far more incendiary platform than Facebook, which features a community of your fans, or even Yelp and other consumer review sites. Review and ratings are easier to track, and require effort on behalf of the consumer to participate. On Twitter it takes all of 10 seconds to destroy a company’s reputation.
The Upside of Lighter Fluid
Use it enough, and you’re sure to get a few singe marks. But you’re also just as sure to develop a Twitter following that will help spread the word about dealership events, solve CSI issues and create connections with people in the area. The reality of Twitter today is that people use it for a variety of reasons, most of which hold value to marketers. “Twitter has become my go-to platform for accessing real-time information and news, whether those sources be respected thought leaders or official news sources,. It provides a unique customization while still allowing brands to personalize and connect,” said Eric Miltsch, director of product strategy at DrivingSales. Prior to joining DrivingSales, Eric directed digital for Auction Direct USA.
–Romney Campaign has purchased a Promoted Trend on Twitter
–Twitter takes real-time engagement and active management
–Twitter has become the defacto news and information channel
For Miltsch, Twitter serves a valuable purpose in that he can now more easily stay current with business, sports or technology by reading content from contacts, the discovery tab and hashtag searches. That sort of consumer behavior shows the value of providing good content on the platform. For dealerships it could be an opportunity to eventually be viewed as an automotive resource for locals. Getting there, however, takes time — more time than you may think. And as your Twitter list grows, so will the risks and rewards of being on the platform.
Amplifying the rewards and diffusing the risks takes an approach that includes active monitoring of your brand, real-time, human engagement and a focus on providing valuable content. Perhaps most of all, finding the value of Twitter takes patience and discipline, so you don’t do something like buy followers, and wind up engaging with people who aren’t in your area or will never be interested in purchasing a car.