Thursday, November 7, 2013

Twitter Marketing and the Wall of Worry: The Twitter IPO

I am not an expert on picking stocks, though I do dabble in the stock market. One of my favorite ideas is that "Stocks climb a wall of worry." As someone who teaches social media marketing, consults on it, and has many, many inside connections to real small business marketers "in the trenches" struggling with how to spend their ad dollars, I wanted to share some thoughts about my "wall of worry" about Twitter, Twitter Marketing, and the Twitter IPO.

The Wall of Worry About Twitter and its IPO


  1. ROI. The ROI (return on investment) for nearly everyone I deal with is always the best for SEO. SEO, of course, is getting to the top of Google or Bing for free, and the reality is that generally speaking when people are ready to buy something they go to Google (or perhaps Amazon) but not Twitter. The ROI on time on Twitter marketing is weak, at best, for more companies. Wall of worry #2: A worrisome sign if there ever was one: who will advertise when the ROI is so poor on the free stuff?
  2. Twitter and Users. Every time I teach a class in the San Francisco Bay Area, I ask my participants - do you use Facebook? Twitter? Instagram? Google? etc. Overwhelmingly the least used: Twitter.  No contest.  Highest use: Google. 2nd highest: Facebook. 3rd highest: LinkedIn. Wall of worry #2: how can Twitter succeed when so few "real people" use it?
  3. Brand identity. Small business people hate Yelp the most.  I cringe when I mention Yelp and social media, as I have to get ready for some rotten tomatoes at me.  Yelp is the most hated site among small business marketers, based on my anecdotal surveys. No. 2? Twitter.  People do not hate Twitter but they find it silly, or irrelevant Wall of worry #3: marketers find the brand silly or irrelevant.
  4. Fake or passive users. I have a Twitter account (@jasoneg3). I use it to a) check BART schedules, and b) read jokes.  Every once in a while, I use it to watch TV in real-time (e.g., American Idol or the Presidential Debates).  It is not something I find particularly useful.  So I "exist" on Twitter but am far from a power user. Similarly, there are oodles of passive users on Twitter who check it rarely, if at all, and there are oodles of fake users. Wall of worry #4: there's no there there behind the hype.
Twitter IPO and the Wall of Worry
Beyond those worrisome factors, there is just the plain hype of Twitter.  Twitter has done an amazing job of hyping itself, especially via its use by high-profile celebrities like Katy Perry or Lady Gaga.  Also the use of Twitter by politicians (e.g., Obama), and on TV shows has contributed to its sex appeal.  Twitter clearly works for those groups, but for most real businesses this is a Red Herring. Its use by Obama does not mean that the local hair salon can use Twitter in any serious marketing way.

Twitter seems to be very overhyped, so my expectation as it goes public is for a slow (or perhaps rapid) crash in value as people "look under the hood" and see the a lot (80% ? 90%? ) of Twitter use is fake, or hyped, or just nonsense.


Twitter Works


But then again Twitter clearly works. For these clear uses:


  • Movie stars and celebrities. Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, Katy Perry. Ashton Kutcher (I have never understood why he is as famous as he is.  #overfamous).
  • Politicans and news junkies.  The Tea Party.  The Heritage Foundation. Obama.
  • Coupons and discounts.  WOOT, REI, and others that use Twitter to share coupons and discounts.
  • Insider deals.  Juicy Couture and others that Tweet "insider" deals to their craziest and most loyal fans.
  • Taco Trucks and Food for Lunch.  Kogi BBQ and all that.
  • Big brands like Ford, Toyota, Geico. These are folks that just have a huge marketing budget to keep pounding their brand image into the heads of consumers.  I am not sure if they really use metrics or just have such enormous budgets that they try anything, do anything.  They are sort of the Red Herrings of Twitter.  It "works" for Ford because Ford doesn't measure anything real (?)
Beyond that, do you see any real marketing uses for Twitter for real businesses?  Twitter IPO - is it PETS.com or Google.com? 

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