Attention marketers: Time to stop abusing Twitter

I write about strategies to turn fans into customers and customers into fans. I also share ways to use real-time strategies to spread ideas, influence minds, and build business.

Social Media  |  Twitter  |  New Rules of Marketing and PR  |  Marketing

The smart folks over at HubSpot released an interesting State of the Twittersphere report for Q4 2008.

The report is based on real data pulled from hundreds of thousands of Twitter profiles of people who have used Twitter Grader. (If you are on Twitter and have not used Twitter Grader, you should check it out).

Here is a glance at some of the more interesting findings.
- Twitter is dominated by newer users - 70% of Twitter users joined in 2008
- An estimated 5-10 thousand new accounts are opened per day
- 35% of Twitter users have 10 or fewer followers
- 9% of Twitter users follow no one at all
- There is a strong correlation between the number of followers you have and the number of people you follow

I'm a big fan of Twitter and as of this writing, I have 4,346 followers to my feed @dmscott on Twitter, way off to the right of this chart. As people choose to follow me, I've learned a lot about Twitter and marketing because I spend a moment looking at each follower.

Twitter and marketing

Many marketers have now discovered Twitter. That's a good thing. And many marketers are using Twitter in very interesting and useful ways. However I'm seeing more and more Twitter feeds created not with a person's name "Mary Smith at XYZ Company" but instead the feed is created with the company name instead "XYZ Company." There are also a lot of Twitter feeds from causes, religious groups, nonprofits, organization, sports teams and the like. While I am okay with that under certain circumstances (like using Twitter as a way to say that the club meeting is cancelled because of snow), I am not a fan of Twitter feeds from inanimate objects without a person behind the feed.

For example, today I was followed by @acne__ Yes, that acne. Like in teenagers. The site associated with the acne Twitter feed is Best Acne Treatment, a products site. While I'm sure acne is an important issue, what the heck does it have to do with me? And should I follow Acne back?

While I'm sure that some people may want to follow their favorite company, nonprofit, or group, I'm seeing many of these feeds as a derivative of spam because they just prattle on about their products and services all day.

Twitter is not an advertising tool.

I predict that in 2009 there will be a backlash against company Twitter accounts and either the Twitter community will need to self-police or the good people who run Twitter will need to make rules.

It may be tough to do, but I wonder if Twitter Grader or the next State of the Twittersphere report can identify the ratio of real people on Twitter vs. inanimate objects.


For more about Twitter as a marketing tool for their business, check out the HubSpot webinar How to Use Twitter for Marketing & PR.

Disclosure: I am on the HubSpot board of advisors.