Though many brands now use Twitter to drive sales, improve customer service, and enhance brand loyalty, Twitter is a consumer-dominated medium: 91% of tweets are by consumers and only 8% are by marketers, according to a study by 360i.

Brands are moreover rarely a topic of conversation: Only 12% of consumer tweets mention one.

When brands are mentioned, consumers are most likely to talk about social networking sites (22% of mentions) or an entertainment (17%) or tech brand (17%).

The top brands mentioned on Twitter are Twitter itself, followed by Apple products and brands, Google, YouTube, and Microsoft:

Below, other findings from the 360i whitepaper, Twitter & the Consumer-Marketer Dynamic, which examines how marketers can apply consumer use patterns to improve their own efforts on Twitter.

Anatomy of Brand Mentions

When talking about brands on Twitter, consumers largely share news or information about the brand (43%) or report use of or interaction with the brand (35%). Just 21% of tweets about brands convey an explicit opinion of the brand.

Among all brand mentions on Twitter, only 7% convey negative sentiment toward the brand. Most mentions (82%) are neutral and 11% reflect positive sentiment.

A Conversation, Not a Megaphone

Consumers use Twitter to share information with others, find new information among their network, and connect with people of similar interests: 43% of consumer tweets are conversational (@replies to other users): that is, they are addressed to someone.

Personal status updates with no intended recipient account for 24% of original tweets.

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Untapped Opportunity for Marketers

Though consumers use Twitter as a conversational medium, most marketers don't: Just 16% of brand-related tweets engage in active dialogue with consumers, whereas 75% contain messaging about news and information.

Twitter Makes Private Space Public

Twitter is an important tool for listening to what consumers are saying in a largely unfiltered, unmoderated environment: 94% of tweets are personal (vs. professional/self-promotional) and 92% of users keep their tweets public.

Most tweets are original: 85% consist of original content rather than retweets (re-broadcast tweets from other users).

Nearly three out of ten tweets (28%) contain a link.

Among re-tweets, 38% reflect news and information, whereas 34% convey an opinion or point-of-view unique to the original author; 28% are re-tweets that syndicate an update but tack on additional commentary (e.g., "RT @MSTdjosht: Can't sleep. // yeah, me neither").

About the data: For this report, 360i studied more than 1,800 tweets published from October 1, 2009 to March 31, 2010. Raw post data was provided by Scout Labs.

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