Twitter Still Largely Untapped Opportunity for Brands to Engage with Consumers

New research from 360i reveals striking contrast between consumer and marketer usage of Twitter

NEW YORK – 360i, a full-service digital marketing agency, today shared results of a six-month study tracking Twitter usage by consumers and marketers.  The research demonstrates that while Twitter presents a vast opportunity for brands to learn about and converse directly with consumers – who, according to the study, generate more than 90 percent of all tweets – marketers have yet to tap the enormous potential of the medium.

Key conclusions from the study include:

(1) A major disparity exists between how consumers and marketers are using Twitter.

Most marketers are still largely using Twitter to broadcast, while consumers are using Twitter to converse.  The study reveals that the number one reason for a consumer to compose an original tweet (non re-tweet) is to converse with another user, with conversations between users representing 43 percent of all original consumer tweets. By contrast, three out of four tweets by marketers contain messaging centered on news and information, with only 16 percent demonstrating active dialogue with consumers.  In fact, just one percent of all original consumer tweets represent conversations with brands.

(2) Conversations about brands on Twitter are still limited.

According to the study, only 12 percent of consumer tweets mention a brand by name. When they do refer to a brand, consumers are sharing news or information about the brand (43 percent) or reporting use of or interaction with the brand (35 percent). A fifth of tweets mentioning brands demonstrate an outward opinion of the brand, but only seven percent demonstrate negative sentiment toward the brand. Most mentions fall into the neutral/informational category (82 percent), and 11 percent reflect positive sentiment.  Thus, the consumer research opportunity with Twitter centers more on an ethnographic focus – as a window into how people are living their lives – and less on whether people like or dislike brands.

When a consumer mentions a brand on Twitter, they’re likely talking about a social network (22 percent of mentions), entertainment (17 percent) or technology property (17 percent).

The top brands mentioned on Twitter are Twitter itself (34 percent), Apple products/brands (22 percent) and Google (15 percent).

(3) Twitter presents a huge opportunity for brands to learn about their customers.

The study shows that Twitter continues to be an important tool for brands to listen to what consumers are saying and to get to know their customers better, as 94 percent of tweets are personal in nature and 85 percent of tweets represent original content (non-retweets).  Unlike with Facebook®, where privacy controls make it difficult for marketers to monitor conversations among consumers, only eight percent of Twitter users make their tweets private, creating a ripe platform for online listening.

Marketers will have the easiest time targeting users by geographic locale, with 66 percent of users willing to provide information about their location.  Conversely, targeting by age range will be a challenge, as only three percent of users are willing to share specifics on their age.

“While many people perceive Twitter as a place for random status updates, re-tweets and marketing messages, this study shows how Twitter is largely a reflection of everyday conversation,” said Sarah Hofstetter, Senior Vice President, Emerging Media & Brand Strategy at 360i. “Twitter is a platform dominated by the voice of the consumer and consisting primarily of two-way conversations — marketers can be doing so much more to participate fully in this two-way medium. The real value for marketers who participate on Twitter is in creating an ongoing dialogue with consumers  that enables brands to become a more meaningful part of people’s everyday lives.”

For more findings and to download the full research report, please visit

About 360i:
Founded over a decade ago, 360i has emerged as one of the foremost agencies that use innovation in digital technology to help brands measurably connect with consumers in both rational and emotional ways. 360i helps its clients think differently about their online presence and evolve their strategies to take advantage of the new world of marketing communications – one where brands and consumers engage in interactive and multi-directional conversations. Current clients include Kraft Foods, JCPenney, Coca-Cola, NBC Universal and H&R Block, among others.
For more information, please visit or follow the agency on Twitter @360i.