I read a BizReport article this morning reporting that 33% of some 5,000 UK businesses surveyed by Virgin Media prefer Twitter over Facebook for communicating with their customers. In that regard, the UK is far ahead of businesses on this side of the pond, and really leading the world when it comes to capitalizing on the real-time benefits provided by a channel like Twitter.
Don’t get me wrong, Facebook is great. But creating a presence and a legitimate “community” on Facebook is difficult, to say the least. Here’s an example. We have a client that is a fantastic rehab facility, located in beautiful South Florida. They are awesome, and they specialize in addiction relapse prevention, which is the number one issue affecting those battling addiction problems. Cool, right?
Well, not so much. There’s nothing “glam” about being a rehab services provider and do you think it’s even remotely easy to get people interested in “liking” them on Facebook? If you HAVE addiction problems, you probably aren’t interested in publicly showing that you do, and if you DON’T have addiction problems, it’s easy to ignore a business like this. Oh, and what about getting people excited to ask all their friends to “like” a business that focuses on drug and addiction problems. Tricky, at best.
But, utilizing Twitter, this very same client can be present, monitor the space, engage and make friends in an organic and genuine manner and also be available to answer questions or function as a resource when people have addiction or recovery related issues. They can also use Twitter as a content distribution channel for their blog posts and share other interesting information and resources, and potentially reach a much greater audience than they’re currently limited to based on their relatively small Facebook fan base.
My point is simple: creating a “community” and building a presence on Facebook, for many businesses, is a struggle. Add to that the fact that you can’t really rely on Facebook to monitor your customer service issues, because Facebook is a closed community. Twitter, however, is open and accessible. If you’re looking for information, feedback and commentary on a particular topic, it’s super simple to find using Twitter search. And, when you’re monitoring your brand and other keywords for mentions, whether you use free tools like Google Alerts and TweetDeck or one of the other Twitter clients or using a more sophisticated paid monitoring service like that offered by Spiral16 (disclosure: client), it also allows you the opportunity for real-time engagement, as well as customer service management.
I’m not advocating NOT using Facebook as part of your marketing strategy. I am, however, saying that not all businesses are inherently suited to do well on Facebook. And understanding what suits your business and your marketing needs is what’s critical when it comes to integrating social media into your overall marketing plan. For many, Twitter makes better sense.
The folks in the UK get that. Facebook is great. But sometimes, Twitter is better. Remember that when you’re developing your social media marketing strategy.