When Twitter first came out, only few saw its potential as an engagement platform. But this hugely successful microblogging site has since grown to have more than 20 million users in the U.S. (and 50 million worldwide) – with networks that cover individuals, communities, small businesses, and even corporations. Even majority of Fortune 100 companies now have Twitter – are even said to have ‘embraced’ the technology.

But are they using it effectively? Not really, at least according to a recently released Twitter study conducted by Weber Shandwick. The objective of the research was to evaluate how well Fortune 100 companies were using Twitter to its potential as a valuable communications channel and strategic social network. Among the numbers that were published in the paper were:

73 – number of Fortune 100 companies on Twitter

41 – Twitter accounts that appear to be used as one-way broadcast/newsfeed for branding efforts

50 – percentage of Fortune 100 Twitter accounts that had fewer than 500 followers

76 – percentage of accounts that posted 500 Tweets or less

15 – percentage of placeholder or inactive accounts

It is obvious from this study that most Fortune 100 companies have Twitter, but don’t know how to use it effectively. By ‘effectively’ we mean using Twitter as a sales vehicle (to offer, say, exclusive deals and coupon codes). Or as a channel for customer service. Or as a strategic platform for establishing thought leadership. Twitter – as Weber Shandwick asserts – remains a missed opportunity.

Twitter Big Company Fail
Twitter Fail Whale via NY Daily News

So how can companies “get” Twitter? The key is to leverage the site’s enormous potential for engagement. They have to show that they’re listening and replying to customer queries. Or that they are all for meaningful conservations by re-tweeting issues that are important to them. Or that, more than a mere corporate identity, they have a personality that can talk and listen to audiences at a 140-character-per-tweet limit. Social media, after all, has experienced tremendous growth because it promotes conversation, and because it engages two-way.

Is your company or business using Twitter according to best practices? If you’re not sure, Lakeshore Branding can help you create an effective Twitter and social media strategy that helps you benefit from social media and other engagement platforms.