December 04, 2008

Survey Says: Twitter is About Relationships

By Jesse Stay of Stay N' Alive (Twitter/FriendFeed)

In a post by Guy Kawasaki recently, he suggested that most Twitter users wanted more followers, and if they weren't, they were lying.  The concept is simple - the more people following you, the more people you have in your network, and the more powerful Twitter becomes for each individual.  I wanted to dive deeper into this so I posted a SocialSurvey on (my startup), asking why users use Twitter, forcing them to pick just one reason.  The results were interesting.  Here's what I found.  

In answer to the question, "Why do you use Twitter?"
  • 5 said they use it to communicate with friends
  • 19 said they use it as a networking tool
  • 2 said they use it to know what others are doing
  • 1 said he/she was addicted (Admittance is the first step, isn't it?)
  • 4 said it was part of their job
  • 11 said it was to know what others are saying
  • 3 use it as a journal
  • 4 use it to post announcements
  • Only 1 uses it primarily to promote their brand
So, out of a sample of 50 people, over half of them use it either to network (aka get to know new people), or to know what others are saying.  Based on this survey, most people are on Twitter to follow or be followed.  They're in it to meet people.  It's about the relationships and building relationships between people.  Amazingly, business was not near the top of people's minds when it comes to Twitter.

Per the survey, only 1 person uses Twitter to promote their brand as their primary means of being on Twitter.  To me this presents an opportunity.  If such a minority are on Twitter focusing on promoting brands, and there are so many linked relationships, why not figure out how to utilize the existing relationships on Twitter to promote your brand?  Why not be one of the first doing this?

Guy Kawasaki is a genius at this - with his AllTop brand he is getting those fans of AllTop to be the promoters to their own followers.  The old saying goes, "Give a man a fish, feed him for a day", "Teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime", but "Teach a man to teach others how to fish, and you'll feed a multitude".  Guy is doing exactly that, by enabling others to do the spreading of the word for him - therefore they are going to be more than willing to take one relationship (them and Guy or them and AllTop), and introduce it to the other relationships they have already established in a respectful way.  Guy isn't forcing this on anyone.  Instead, he's enabling his followers to find ways to present it to their own network of friends.  He's even built out an e-mail list around this cause.

As a business, you have a unique opportunity with Twitter.  There are so many relationships out there - your task is to now figure out how you can get your brand between those relationships.  Social media is about connections - it's about the relationships, no longer just the individuals, and your brand needs to be on the link between those individuals to have the most powerful influence.

Read more by Jesse Stay at Stay N' Alive.