Of the mainstream social media channels, science companies seem to be interested in Twitter. The world’s most popular microblogging platform, Twitter enables individuals to follow people or companies and publish short messages, or tweets, in 140 character lengths. Active microbloggers post multiple times per day.
Some of the early adopters of Twitter within the scientific industry (life science companies, analytical instrument manufacturers, consumables companies and service providers) have enjoyed early successes with Twitter, mostly measured in the number of followers they have gathered. Companies then broadcast messages to this community in order to drive awareness and/or generate opportunities. As a result of this early uptake by a few companies, more and more science organizations are realizing a need for a presence on Twitter.
I have heard many marketing executives say “we need to be on Twitter” almost as an edict, but without discussing the objectives or a strategy. As more companies spin up on Twitter, however, the effectiveness of the channel will greatly diminish.
Best practice on Twitter requires active, high frequency engagement. If every science company in the world posts a few tweets a day, the typical scientist will suffer from information overload, causing him to activate his mental filter, tune out the majority of the information and retreat from the constant bombardment low information quality messages. Thus, I predict that Twitter will suffer the same fate as banner and email marketing, where the medium’s effectiveness will plummet.
There is a way to use Twitter effectively. While this post does not provide suggestions about the mechanics of using Twitter, here are two recommendations to consider prior to engaging in Twitter.
- Twitter is not a broadcast medium. It is an engagement medium. There are several effective and appropriate uses of Twitter, such as instigating crowd control during a conference or tradeshow, driving demand for certain products, or instigating discussion around a topic of interest. It should not be used for low-value entertainment purposes, as a news broadcasting channel, or pushing press releases and other corporate information. The best way forward is to develop an overall editorial strategy.
- Twitter should be one channel within an integrated marketing effort. In this information-centric age, managers should consider marketing campaigns as being content development and deployment strategies. An effective content strategy requires the development of the right kinds of content to move your audiences through steps of their own buying journey. Twitter should be used as one channel within the wider, integrated mix of tactics.
Twitter has the potential to be instrumental in helping science marketers achieve certain objectives. Yet companies should not rush into adoption without an idea of how to encourage engagement.