Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Do I Want to Follow Your Brand?

A Survey of Brand Perception on Twitter

Recently Peter Sorgenfrei and Warren Sukernek conducted a survey on Twitter regarding users’ perception of brands on Twitter. We surveyed 240 people with 6 questions regarding interacting with brands. The survey and results are below. A couple of key insights:

  • Not surprisingly, most users (89%) agree that brands should engage their customers on Twitter.The majority also have a better impression of brands that use Twitter for customer service (81%).
  • Proper usage of Twitter however, is paramount as almost 90% of users would frown upon poor or inappropriate brand use of Twitter.
  • The power of a relationship is extremely strong on Twitter. 60% of respondents would recommend a company based on their presence on Twitter and 80% of Twitter users will reward those brands they have key relationships by being more willing to purchase from them.
  • Influencers: More than 60% of respondents have 100+ followers and almost 50% of respondents have posted more than 1000 Tweets since they signed up for the service.

Twitter Survey by @warrenss, Twittermaven blog and @researchguy, Sorgenfrei
– attribution appreciated. Documents protected by Creative Commons License.

I'd love to get your thoughts and insights. What did you think of the survey, the results, and most importantly, how companies can join Twitter?

Q1: “I feel brands should engage with their customers on Twitter”
89% of respondents answered favorably (agree or strongly agree) with just under 50% answering agree. Just over 10% of the audience disagreed with the
statement. Thus, the respondents are overwhelmingly in favor of
brands joining Twitter and having conversations with customers. This
should not be surprising as the majority of the respondents are
strong fans of the service.
Q2: “I have a much better impression of companies that use Twitter for customer service”
Eighty-one percent of the respondents either agreed or strongly agreed with the
statement. Just two percent strongly disagreed. Since several
companies such as Comcast, Zappos, Dell, and HR Block have become
notable on Twitter in using the service to resolve customer service
problems, they have made a favorable impression on their peers.
Q3: “I am interested in receiving special offers and coupons from companies on Twitter”
40% of respondents agreed with the statement and just 15% strongly agreed. So although the group was in favor of receiving special offers, there was a very strong dissent. Over 15% of respondents strongly disagreed which was the highest percentage in the entire survey.Twitter users are wary of over promotion and being bombarded with offers and coupons. This is in contrast to Q1, where just under 90% of respondents were very favorable towards a company resence on Twitter. One can conclude that the Twitter community wants dialogue and relationships from their favorite brands, not broadcasted impersonal coupons.

Q4: “If a company uses Twitter poorly or inappropriately, it would affect my overall perception of their brand”

88% of the respondents were in agreement (strongly agree or agree) with this
statement. This statement really resonated with the audience as it received the highest strongly agree score (50.5%) out of the entire survey. Correspondingly, strongly disagree had the lowest score in the entire survey for this question as well. The Twitter community wants to engage in conversation with their brands, but it will not tolerate poor practices from those companies. Although poor or
inappropriate use was not defined in the survey, that is assumed to include broadcasting messages, lack of responses, latency in response, follower spam.
Q5: “I would recommend a company’s product or service based on their
presence/usage of Twitter

60% of respondents were in favor (strongly agree or agree) with this statement. 16.7% strongly agreed. The strength of the Twitter relationship is such that it can positively impact brand perception and recommendations of that brand. Company Twitter usage and relationships has an impactful word of mouth effect. As seen elsewhere, offline word of mouth activities are affected by online recommendations and experiences.

Q6: I would be more willing to purchase a product/service from a company that has a relationship with me on Twitter”

Over 78% of respondents were in favor (strongly agree or agree) with this
statement. As described in Q5, the power of the relationship on Twitter is very strong. In Q6, the relationship appears to have an even stronger impact than Q5. The audience is more willing to purchase a product than recommend it. Respondents are willing to reward company’s who engage with them on Twitter by purchasing their product or service.
Demographic Questions

Q7: How many followers do you have on Twitter?
This question was fairly distributed with the largest (100-499) at 42% and the smallest (less than 50) at 12.1%

Q8: How many tweets have you posted since signing up for Twitter?

Interestingly, there was a tie for most popular answer between 100-499 and 1000-2999. The fewest respondents had <100. Based on the answers to questions 7 and 8, one can infer that most respondents are experienced Twitter users.
Q9: What is your age range?
Q10: What is your gender?

Document may be downloaded
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Ed Shaz said...

Excellent Twitter coverage.
Thanks for sharing the results.

Michael Litman said...

Thanks for sharing the results.

I'll write a blog post linking back to here soon.

Michael Litman /

Todd said...

Juicy stuff--thanks for the research. It would be great if you could give us a sense of the methodology, accuracy and applicability of the research. In other words, how did you pick the 240 people, what potential bias is there in that sample, and how representative are they of the larger technology/millennial/computer-using population?

Peter said...

In response to Todd:

The 240 people were self-selected - that that means is we @warrenss and @researchguy sent out the word that a survey was open to our followers. People then retweeted and retweeted, and so on.

The self-selection comes in when someone decides to take the survey. So while not randomly selected per se it is still pretty close.

There is always bias in surveying, sometimes you can stratify yourself out of it. In this case we cannot - we do not know enough about the overall Twitter population to do so.

Thus the results are directional.

Do not hesitate to get in touch if you need more info.

Anonymous said...

Great stuff here that I will be sharing with my colleagues. I'll also look to post/link on my site as well

Laura said...

Here's are two question that I'd like asked/answered in a study of this nature:

1. "How many brands do you follow at Twitter?"

2. "What does it mean to follow a brand at Twitter?"

Because I'm not sure if I follow many brands at Twitter!

I do, however, follow people.

These people often represent their brands very well: and often without the knowledge or support of their companies!

Which can lead to a discussion of "how" followers wish to interact with brands at Twitter.

By following a brand, do you prefer following :

a) logo avatar with anonymous writers who push out PR headlines or

b) internal marketing people who switch out their identities depending on shifts or

c) individuals who work at the company or

d) people who may or may not work at the company, but who are brand enthusiasts, or

e) something else entirely?

Warren said...

Excellent points and comments everyone.

@Laura - Good ideas for a follow-up. We could incorporate these with some comments left on Peter's blog.

@litmanlive @eyecube Thanks for the link love!

Please let us know other recommendations for follow up.

Thanks again!

Ryan said...

Great stuff...great charts!

Ari Herzog said...

This is useful data, guys.

I'd enjoy seeing a more prolific mashup...

For instance, can you combine the genders and ages to ascertain a clearer demography of respondents?

Or, how about the ages of people in relation to brand inappropriateness? I'm guessing older people care more about brand reputation but younger people care more about brand responsiveness.


Warren said...

Ari, Great ideas. I was actually working on those ideas, but in my haste to get the data out, I abandoned the effort. Now, it's back to the pivot table. Always fun, for me.

Stay tuned!

GLComputing said...

I do use Twitter (via TwitterBerry on my Blackberry)

I'd probably use it more if it would update LinkedIN like it does with FaceBook.

Anyone know if this is possible?

peter said...

Quick question?
What type of brands did you research? I guess it is all brands in the consumer space, i.e. hamburger/soda/mobile phone/cloth/etc etc but not brands like for instance Porsche, Sun Microsystems Computers, EMC Storage or photocopiers to name a few non volume consumer type brands


Warren said...

GL, I do not believe there is a tool like on Facebook that sync's your status up with Twitter. However, you can probably use to do that for several social networks.

Peter, we left the company/brand qualifier very vague. 240 Twitter users responded to the survey.We just asked Twitter users questions like, “I feel brands should engage with their customers on Twitter”.

Do you think there is value in distinguishing the brand types in a future survey?