Yesterday I watched Cision‘s webinar on Social Media ROI. I guess webinars act as an all-singing all-dancing white paper, promoting thought leadership whilst simultaneously advertising your wares in a more interactive way (there was a Q & A session at the end). Happily, Cision didn’t go for the hard-sell, and it was actually pretty informative.

The comments about Twitter were particularly useful. It seems the number of Twitter followers you have has fast become synonymous with the number of Facebook friends you had at uni; breaking through that all important 1000 threshold might make you look popular online, but confirmed 200 “Attendees” on your 21st birthday Facebook event doesn’t remotely translate to 200 of your nearest and dearest incarnate on the day (luckily, as my card was behind the bar).

The same goes in the Twittersphere and corporate accounts. It doesn’t actually matter how many Twitter followers your company’s account has, as a high number of Twitter followers does not necessarily equal a higher number of X sold (subscriptions in our case).

I guess it depends how a company chooses to use Twitter, and who it is they are targeting.Twitter can definitely be used as an effective B2C tool for customer services. It’s somehow comforting to think there’s a human responding from the vast faceless corporation that is @Starbucks. I think this is great, and if our subscribers chose to tweet us a problem rather than email, we’d be sure to respond (although providing detailed technical support in 140 characters would be a challenge).

Since taking over the Twitter account, however, I quickly realised that, for Exact Editions at least, it’s much more effective as a B2B marketing channel than B2C. We provide a platform for 100s of magazines, and we can see that, say, Jazzwise fans aren’t going to talk jazz in a forum of thousands of subscribers to different titles; it’d fall on deaf ears, and social media is supposed to be, well, social, not a monologue.

Therefore, our subscribers choose to ask about the subjects relevant to their magazines on the magazine’s individual Twitter accounts, and this leaves @exacteditions free to tweet about the things we understand best – digital publishing news, Exact Editions technological updates, blog post alerts etc. Putting out a search for our company name from Tweetdeck has already yielded a few leads from publishers interested in digital editions and iPad apps and we hope to continue in this vein. As the Cision chap pointed out:

Retweet frequency > Twitter followers (154, since you’re asking)

And this is a much more accurate KPI – we know we’re on the right tracks when others in the profession are engaging with our views and perpetuating them, adding to them, refuting them, and generally causing that all important “Buzz” or “Chatter”, that leads people back to to work with us.