How to Misuse Twitter and Facebook

Lithium Alumni (Retired)

scout_jennifer_zeszut.pngJennifer Zeszut is the Chief Social Strategist at Lithium Technologies.  Jennifer is the founder and former CEO of Scout Labs, a SAAS platform for real-time social media visibility and customer analytics which was acquired by Lithium in May 2010. 


On Lithosphere she is JenniferZ or you can find her on Twitter at @jenniferland.



“I have Twitter and Facebook pages and a growing number of Fans and Followers.  We’re doing great!...I think?”

Everyone knows Twitter and Facebook are important, but many companies aren't sure how to think about them -- what their goals should be with respect to them, how to best leverage them.  Negative lessons are often the most powerful, so here's what not to do.



You can’t take Facebook Friends to the bank (unless you are Facebook)

Gaining Twitter Followers or Facebook Friends should not be your business goal.  It’s to grow revenue or decrease costs.  (Just because its social doesn’t mean the basics of good business don’t apply!)  Of course earning friends and followers are a nice bonus on the way to growing customers and revenues.  Those followers are people who have said, “I think you are interesting enough right now to (maybe, if the timing is right) tune in to what you have to say,” which is a great start.  You need to continue to be relevant with your content and to build relationships with those folks, or else you’ll lose them.  And even if you do a great job at both those things and earn a lot of followers, be careful not to equate that with true “reach”.  Most consumers actually read very little of their Twitter stream (<5% per my own informal research). 


If this is sounding vaguely familiar, you are probably noticing that, in some ways, gaining friends and followers is a lot like getting people to opt-in to your email list.  A big opt-in list is better than a small one (usually) but its all about what you do with it – how effective you are at gaining customers’ attention and getting them to take action to drive sales.  Having a large, fresh email list should be one part of an integrated campaign for driving customers and revenue.  So, too, for the social web.  


Twitter and Facebook should be bridges, not islands.

Brands should be thinking about providing customers a whole network of brand touchpoints that are optimized for driving to a sale or cultivating advocates, with diagnostic metrics each step along the way.  Say you have a new product launching.  You’d certainly want to update your Friends and Followers to let them know of the news.  (KPIs: # clicking links provided, # of retweets).  Then you need a website where they can go get factual information about the new product and learn more about the brand (KPIs: traffic, site engagement, sales or leads).  You should be doing everything you can to connect potential or unsure customers with your best customers via a branded community (KPIs: likelihood to buy after interacting, total basket size, lifetime value and loyalty, call deflection).  You may have a loyalty program as well, to further embrace your best clients (KPIs: # enrolled, customer retention, sales).  And so on.  The whole effort should be assessed based on interest generated, customers gained, influencers cultivated and sales achieved.


The other critical reason to NOT think of Twitter or Facebook as your customer strategy is the data, or lack thereof.  Twitter and Facebook are all too happy to play host to all your most intimate customer conversations and interactions.  But these platforms have been notoriously stingy about providing data about those customers back to brands or others in the analytics community.  They are sitting on mountains of your own customers’ data, but that doesn’t help you when its time to create a targeted campaign or to find your advocates.  Make sure you have a “home base” for your customers, like a branded community, that you host, own and mine.


Twitter is not Vegas – what happens on Twitter doesn’t stay on Twitter.

Great customer commentary may take place on Facebook or Twitter, but THEN ITS GONE.  Remember, Twitter and Facebook are both as-it-happens streams.  And the only thing people (really) see are the most recent things said. Not the most relevant.  There is no way to save meaningful posts (except for Favorites functionality) and no way to categorize conversations for future access by customers, which is a major limitation. 


But if you have those bridges built, as discussed above, you can bring relevant Twitter and Facebook content in to a branded community and push community content out to Twitter and Facebook.  Now you are capturing and categorizing comments, and building a robust repository of consumer-generated content that can assist other customers in the future.  At a Lithium event this week, Randy Ksar, head of the MotoDev community at Motorola, and I were speaking with Bridget Dolan of Sephora, who led the effort to launch the BeautyTalk community on  She expressed this very frustration when they only had Twitter and Facebook pages.  “All this great content on Facebook was just disappearing.  One day it was there, the next day it was gone.”  Consumer-generated content about and around your brand and products is incredibly valuable.  Make sure its working hard for you – for all time, not just momentarily.


Twitter and Facebook are platforms for relationship-building, not spamming.

I could have said that they are not platforms for messaging rather than spamming, but spamming is much more descriptive.  Spamming is messaging done wrong, messaging done in a self-serving way, messaging that is NOT designed to deliver value to the receiver. Twitter and Facebook should not be thought of as yet another one-way messaging channel for a brand.  At its core, a Friend or Follow is permission to engage, which means the possibility of really connecting with them if done right.  So, don’t forget to use Twitter and Facebook for what they are really best for –  platforms for deeper relationship-building.  After all, cultivating a few advocates is worth hundreds of individual sales. 

Frequent Advisor

Love this post,


My feeling is that although almost everyone one is speaking Facebook and Twitter not many can clearly define the boundaries of these channels and how to manage them cleverly. In most cases I see Facebook and Twitter used as a bin for every piece of corporate news and in many ways used just as an artificial mean to generate discussion about the brand and establish "Social Presence" 


My assumption is that majority of marketers  are not investing  enough  thinking about why they  are doing this, they simply  do is  since everyone is ...  I assume this for the following reasons:

1) Social language is often alien for most corporates DNAs 

2) When  I examine many corporate pages  I see that many are using both Facebook and Twitter in a similar way simply duplicating the same messages over both channels.


The good news about this is that probably within the next few years there will be increasing demand for tools and services to help clear up this mess and uncover the full and real potential of these channels.



Lithium Alumni (Retired)

I think you are right, Shachar.  It's like "FR + T appear to be all the rage so they are probably good for something".  They have a role for sure.  I, for one, am excited that they have become a forcing function for two things long overdue: 1) marketers thinking / becoming more real-time and 2) marketers actually interacting with customers again!  🙂

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