So this guy I know, Brian Fanzo, he sent out this tweet the other day:
My first thought was that Apple will never see that tweet. Apple don’t have an active Twitter presence, so Brian couldn’t include @Apple – @Apple’s profile looks like this:
(What are those 30.9k people doing?)
My second thought was, Apple are kinda’ saying they don’t really care about the opinions of their customers by not having a presence. Now that’s not necessarily true – Apple might still be listening and monitoring social conversations without actively engaging on any platform, but the fact that that thought came to mind was interesting. I’m closely aligned to social and it’s benefits, so I’m more hyper-aware of the absence of a Twitter handle, but it made me think that this might be how others are also starting to see this type of absence. Maybe, simply by not being around, brands are giving customers the impression that they don’t really care what they think.
“You Can Angle Stats to Prove Anything”
There’s a rising amount of Twitter stats that reinforce the platform’s growing relevance as a consumer channel:
- 79% of Twitter users are more likely to recommend brands they follow
- 67% of Twitter users are more likely to buy from brands they follow
- 73% of followers want updates on future products
Those figures are hard to ignore and are probably reason enough for businesses to maintain some level of Twitter presence. But of course, ROI is more complex than a couple of cool stats. Businesses have always operated without Twitter, have always engaged prospects, generated leads and closed deals without having done so via tweet – there’s no definitive logic that says all brands need to be on Twitter. In fact, our case in point, Apple, probably proves the opposite; they’re one of the biggest brands in the world and they don’t have a social media presence at all, right? While I can see how some might come to this conclusion, I’d suggest that Apple is the exception and that the growing expectation is that all brands be present, at the least, for listening purposes. And even though Apple might be monitoring the feedback about their products, an important element of the process is providing people a way to get in touch, to use social media for ‘social’ purposes. While the situation right now may be that your brand can avoid having a presence with no significant consequences, the reality is you’re not Apple. Not having a presence is effectively telling your customers you don’t want to hear them. And increasingly, they are expecting you to be listening in.
For most people, Facebook is about friends and family. You connect with a circle of people you want to stay in touch with and you put up privacy barriers around your conversations and groups. Facebook is a gathering place where you catch-up and talk about what’s happening away from the judgement of the wider world, like having people over and having a conversation in your lounge room. Twitter is the opposite. Twitter is a soapbox, it gives every user a voice, a chance to broadcast their thoughts on anything and everything, anytime they want. People tweet to be heard. People tweet your brand to be heard. Failing to listen might not hurt you too much at the moment, but it will.135,000 new Twitter profiles are created each day, 500 million tweets are sent, every day. 72% of people who complain on Twitter already expect a response within an hour, and that’s only, really, the early days of Twitter as a customer service channel, in relative terms.
Now, you might see those figures and think ‘that’s fine, good luck to the brands that are doing it’, but for every brand that signs up and does respond quickly to a tweet, that’s another business that’s raising the bar of overall consumer expectation. People expect brands to respond within an hour because many businesses already do respond within an hour. If you’re getting that level of service from 50% of the brands you tweet, how does that effect your expectation of the other 50%? It disappoints, it brings down sentiment, it leads to people tweeting ‘[your brand] is terrible’ – and whether it is or isn’t doesn’t matter, because perception is truth. If you’re doing nothing to correct it, that’s what people will think. And it will lose you business. More and more so as social platforms continue to merge into our day-to-day lives, more and more as the younger demographic, who’ve been raised with social, move into your target customer range. Consumer expectations are changing, consumer behaviours are evolving. ‘That Twitter thing’ might be something you’ve been meaning to get to at some stage or not really of interest to you. But you’re interests are largely irrelevant in this context. Is that where your consumers are? Are people already looking to connect with you on the platform?
This same argument applies to all social networks – it doesn’t matter what your opinion is of each, whether you like how people use Facebook, whether you think Pinterest’s of any use. If people are trying to reach you there, that’s where you should be, because not being present is removing another way for consumers to get in touch. And increasingly, the perception will be that you’re not listening, that you don’t care what people think. It’s worth showing up and, at the least, and hearing what’s being said.