Should you put marketing dollars into Twitter?

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Don't think of Twitter as your new website. It's not yet a must for all marketing mix models. So how can you tell if you need to be in on Twitter?

Ask yourself:
  1. Do I know what Twitter is? If you don't, ask your marketing agency or go solo at www.twitter.com.
  2. Have I tried Twitter? Have I registered and found someone I know whom I am now following? Try your teenaged daughter or CNN Breaking News.
  3. Does our company understand what people are saying on Twitter about us? My guess—not a lot at this point. Most brands mentioned on Twitter are retail brands with links to coupons and deals. Try the Twitter search function for a better answer.
  4. Should I register my brand and company names? The answer to this is yes. Grab your names—you may want to use them sometime, secure your name now.
  5. Should I actually invest marketing spend in Twittering?

So, here is some intelligence on Twitter and you can draw your own conclusions. Most popular man on Twitter: Ashton Kutcher. Ashton challenged CNN on April 15 to a million-follower race. As I'm writing this, Ashton has 1.7 million followers; CNN Breaking News is at 1.4 million. Much further behind, but of medical interest, American Diabetes Association is at 3,400 followers—compare that to about 500,000-plus monthly unique visitors on ADA's website www.diabetes.org.

So does this answer whether you should spend marketing resources there? Not totally, after all, as with all emerging media—it's emerging. You can be successful in this channel if you can meet the success criteria. First, do you have something brief and interesting to communicate often? How about personal alerts or reminders to your patients or healthcare policy updates affecting your audience?

So ahh, your audience… Here's the main issue for most medical marketers on Twitter—the audience. There are a lot of statistics on the age of those on Twitter and they appear to skew into the 30s, but for medical marketing, that's not our target.

Twitter bottom line: Know what's there. Register your brands. Evaluate your target audience and their presence on Twitter. Start twittering if your consumers are there and you have a compelling story that can be told and valued in small chunks over the course of time.

Lastly, if you start, stay with it. And if you do, I'll follow you.

Ana Dan is brand director, Glucerna at Abbott Nutrition
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