When You Debate Twitter, You Miss The Moment
February 11, 2014
You may have heard about Twitter's first quarterly report since going public. Their revenue more than doubled in the fourth quarter. And the platform has also clearly become a "real time search engine" with Twitter searches increasing by 120%.
But beyond all of the positives - it was slow user growth that had Wall Street and everyone else talking:
Many reacted to the fact Twitter had only increased its Monthly Active Users by 9 million from Q3 to Q4.
Knowing this would raise eyebrows, Twitter CEO Dick Costello addressed the company's intent to change the slope of the growth curve: "We need to bridge that gap between broad awareness of Twitter and engagement in the platform. People need to 'get [Twitter]' in the first moment. That is absolutely a focus for us."
Costello is right. They do need to do a better job of telling Twitter's story.
Because for those who still don't "get" Twitter, the platform offers the opportunity to serve fans and communities, disseminate information - without barriers - to a wider base instantly, and be discovered by a new audience every day.
But for fans of certain radio formats, it's likely the active portion of followers on Twitter will always be small. And perhaps that's why we see a void in genuine human presence on Twitter from these stations. However, dismissing Twitter because fewer in your fan base use it over Facebook misses the bigger picture.
Twitter has become an important part of today's culture (and a larger part of your fans' screen time). So it should drive broadcasters to want to gain a better sense of what that interaction means and how fans are using Twitter (regardless of the smaller fan base).
But it takes work.
There's nothing easy about building an active social fan base, especially on Twitter. It takes time and skill to learn how to trigger reaction – eventually earning a base that talks with you and about you – convincing other people to try you out (ultimately becoming fans, too).
Just ask the growing group of diverse radio talent that has actually accomplished this on Twitter.
A great example is my former radio colleague, Bubba the Love Sponge:
(Yes, that's me in the purple shirt to the far left.)
When Bubba and I started doing mornings on WXTB/Tampa in the latter part of the 90's, we didn't have social networking tools. We built a fan base (which became the Bubba Army) one person at a time.
From the request lines to emails to appearances, we made every listener feel like they counted – because they did.
So it was no surprise to me when Twitter rolled out that Bubba jumped on it and still carves out time today to respond to fans. He offers small (but important) exchanges like this:
(The picture referred to is Richard in a "Bubba Army" hat.)
And there are other major players on the radio using Twitter who inherently know how to exchange with fans - talent like Big D and Bubba (even syndicated talent like these guys create impact with Twitter), Seattle's number one rated morning man KISW's B.J. Shea, and Detroit's number one rated morning team, Dave and Chuck the Freak with Lisa Way. (And there are a few others in radio getting it done, yet there's too little time and space to mention them right now.)
Point is –it's the honest exchanges these radio talents are having with fans on Twitter that separates them from the pack.
These are the intangibles that matter today.
As we are starting to see, there's no denying that a brand's traditional cume reach strategically merged with real Twitter involvement can drive each other, even lifting ratings for certain TV programs as Nielsen is discovering.
(We have even uncovered in Jacobs Media Techsurvey10 critical information from radio fans that will be revealed at Worldwide Radio Summit 2014 on April 3, 2014. There's a clear message we're seeing in the data, leaving no doubt that acknowledging fans builds greater equity than many realize.)
Twitter may never have the scale of Facebook - mainly because the platform serves a very different purpose. But it's a brand's obligation to serve fans on their preferred social platforms if they want to stand out. It's true, you're not going to perish if you dismiss Twitter – but you are certainly missing out on opportunities to grow.
Reach out to me anytime on Twitter @lorilewis.
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