For years internet use has consistently been on the rise. This development has lead consumers to take their own initiative when contacting and interacting with companies and brands. In addition to company websites, communities and blogs, in which consumers can exchange information and experiences about a product, are becoming increasingly significant.
With the emergence of Twitter the spread of information between users has experienced an even stronger dynamic. Messages are distributed at neck-break speed and even attract a high attention particularly on journalistic homepages; a comprehensive control for positive or negative information is hardly possible. While in the USA not just big players, the likes of Starbucks, Dell or Southwest Airlines, are using the micro-blogging service to get in touch with their customers, companies in Germany still seem to treat Twitter as strange stepchild. Use of this communication solution by the companies is situated easily in the lower six-figure range. Not completely to be outdone by new and meaningful communication tools, German DAX-companies and large brand manufacturers do set good examples by “twittering” amongst their important target groups.
The potential of Twitter for companies
o Attention in the online-world
o Distribution of news
o Execution of viral marketing campaigns
o Nurturing of reputation
o Source of current trends
Twitter as a brand ambassador
The use of Twitter as a medium of company marketing begs the questions regarding the effectiveness of the method. Why is such an offer attractive to users? And what is the added value for companies? Basically, Twitter is a suitable medium to care for communities with regards to a random subject so that companies and their brands also realize a profit. The strategy consultancy 2hm & Associates together with the Marketing I Professorship of the University of Mainz delved into the issue whether a commitment to Twitter increases brand loyalty. To this end a comprehensive online-survey of Twitter users in the field of different automotive brands was duly executed.
Entertainment and interaction lead to brand commitment
The study shows that a brand presence on Twitter, as in the case of the AUDI brand, has an effect on emotional brand commitment; that is the psychological consumer loyalty attached to the brand. Owing to the speed at which the concept moves, and the minimal lifespan of messages, the information value of a Twitter note plays no significant role (the average “half life” of a Tweet is two to five minutes). Based upon this short time period they do not serve as well-founded information sources. On the other hand, in the case of AUDI, the entertainment value of a Tweet has very high impact. One explanation lies in the user interaction with different Tweets which spark inspirations, clues or ideas. The reciprocal character and the consequent vibrancy of Twitter create an association network. Within this network a game is developed which increases the entertainment value for the user; especially notable for users with a passion for automobiles and are interested to be in touch with the company and particularly with their brand company. In the case of AUDI the impact of Twitter is exceptionally noteworthy. To what extent, or whether at all, a Twitter presence may increase brand loyalty is for each company and brand to seriously examine.