Posted by : Amitha Amarasinghe Saturday, September 11, 2010

Few weeks ago, I compiled a list of Sri Lankan brands on Twitter, to monitor their online activities on Twitter. My aim was to observe how effectively these brands are using Twitter as a customer engagement tool, and to spot some common mistakes made by them. Here are some of my observations. When looking at this information, it is obvious; most of these brands on Twitter are actually not quite “getting it right” to begin with.

1. Twitter on Autopilot

Most Sri Lankan brands have synchronized their Twitter account with their Facebook pages or blog RSS. Every time they post something on their Facebook page, it is updated automatically on their Twitter account as well. However, they never bother to check back for any customer reactions for these messages on Twitter. They only bother about the comments they get for the Facebook post, and simply ignore the Twitter feed. This leads to abandoning a segment of customers who are willing to participate in a conversation with their brand and they simply alienated these customers without attending to their feedback to the brand via Twitter.
They never replied to this tweet

@Realradio878 and @LitefmSriLanka (two competing radio stations) are two good examples for this bad habit. They take song requests on their Facebook page, and those messages get posted on their Twitter accounts. However they never bother to check the song requests made by Twitter followers, by tweeting @ mentioning them.

2. Only 4 brands (surveyed) responded regularly to @ mentions by followers

This makes 85% of the brands surveyed, are never responding to @ mentions on Twitter. Out of the 26 brands monitored, only 3 brands actually responded to follower @ mentions on a regular (consistent) basis. To name them; @Dialoglk ranked as the number one Sri Lankan brand to engage actively with followers by regularly responding to @ mentions, followed by @CocoVeranda who equally kept responding to @ mentions targeted at them. The third brand, which was consistently responding to tweets by followers, is @MobitelSriLanka. Mobitel started slowly, but they quickly learned the secrets of Twitter. Over last few weeks, I observed Mobitel solving some real problems of their customers; moving step forward than just replying to @ mentions. (Well done!). The fourth brand which fall into this category is @QuantumTeleShop. They started new on Twitter, but are engaging with followers better than some of the other brands who got on board before them.

In summery, this implies majority of the brands are still not ready for a conversation on Twitter. They are just here to bombard the followers with one-way marketing messages, which they are quite good at doing on TV and radio.

3. Brand ‘egoism’ on Twitter

A vast majority of brands will never tweet anything other than about themselves. This includes, constant tweeting of special offers, announcements, new product types etc. They never re-tweet valuable/relevant information from people that they follow, or never @ mention someone for a casual conversation. The tone of these tweets is never different from the tone of TV commercials or papers advertisements they publish.

Some other brands, never followed back their customers. The underlying implication is “I’m superior to you, so why should I follow you?”. For example @Otaradel @nolimitnlm @efm_colombo @vayugroup are following either 0 or less than 10 people, and if they are following someone; there’s a distant possibility of them being a customer of them (For example, Sir Richard Branson shopping at Odel [regularly] is highly unlikely).

I call this the “brand egoism” on Twitter. This is a sign that marketers behind these brands are still failing to figure out the difference between traditional media and social media channels. In traditional media, the brand holds a superior ground compared to the customers, in the communication process. We cannot talk back to a TV commercial and say “that’s bullshit!”. This one-way nature of traditional media has made brands (the marketers) believe that media is there for them to talk to the customers, and only way a customer can talk to them is by buying their stuff. Egoist brands never follow back their customers on Twitter. They never say thank you for a re-tweet. They never bother to respond to @ mentions. They simply take Twitter as yet another channel to scream out their marketing messages.Even some of those brands which appears to be doing well on Twitter, are sometimes showing these 'egoist' characteristics.

Learning point: Social media not all about boasting of you or your brand. It’s about listening to other people, and being empathetic.

4. Bulk following obsession

This is a mistake done by many individuals and brands, which I warned before. If you are blindly following other people with the hope of getting few ‘reciprocal love’, you are doing the mistake of gathering an irrelevant set of followers around your brand (spam bots, porn bots, foreigners who can never buy from you, etc). @realradio878 and @QuantumTeleShop are two examples of brands which did this mistake. Rather than following thousands of irrelevant people with the hope of them following you back, you have to execute a clear strategy to gather relevant followers around your brand.

Following 1,335 but only 95 followers. Something is wrong here!

Point: It’s not about the quantity; but all about the quality of conversation.

Is there any potential for Sri Lankan brands to make use of Twitter as a marketing tool?

This is a question, which bothers most Sri Lankan marketers. Is it big enough? 

With twitter, it’s not always about the volume. It’s about the engagement. If you can engage a right set of audience on Twitter, you will see far reaching results. Because, the ones who are on Twitter are theoretically “opinion leaders”, “connectors” or “innovators” as described in your marketing text books. You know how much an impact a “connector” can do to your brand. So why not give it a try?

You are always welcome to leave feedback on shortcomings of my observation, and suggestions to improve this methodology.

Originally posted on Like this blog? Get email updates when I post next time, or subscribe to the feed on a reader. Follow me on Twitter @Amisampath Please help improve the quality of this blog. Report any spelling or grammar mistake here

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