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Black Friday Tweeting November 30, 2010

Filed under: Learnings,Strategy — Carla Bobka @ 8:29 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

Stats are out about retailers deemed most successful in using Twitter on Black Friday. Clickz post from Nov. 30 anointed these retailers the best users of Twitter to promote their Black Friday specials:

  • Best Buy (Harvard Business Review featured Best Buy’s CEO and his adoption of Twitter in this month’s issue.)
  • Wal-Mart
  • Target
  • Home Depot
  • Sears
  • Staples

Target paid for promoted tweets, so anyone on Hootsuite saw their tweets, even if they weren’t specifically following @Target. It costs them tens of thousands to buy promoted tweets. The account itself only tweeted 13 times, and most of that was communication with specific shoppers who’d already mentioned @Target. They didn’t really push ad-speak via Twitter. Target took the re-tweet prize among the retails mentioned, with one of its tweets garnering 57 re-tweets.

But let’s look a little closer at the so-called winners and see how much interaction they got on Twitter.

  • @Walmart tweeted 49 times on Friday. One of those posts got 4 Re-tweets. That’s not much considering 90,818 people follow them.
  • @Staples tweeted 25 times, one post was re-tweeted 10 times out of 85,883 followers.
  • Not much different for @BestBuy. 107,945 followers got 70 posts from the mother ship. The most popular of those was re-tweeted 7 times.

The re-tweet counts are not statistically relevant given the huge number of followers each account has. In fact they are stunningly low. Speaking from experience, sometimes you feel like you’re tweeting into a vast silent black hole. And you wonder if you’re wasting your breath. These re-tweet counts confirm you can’t count on your tweets “wowing” the public. Not even on a big day like Black Friday.

So was it worth the effort? Do the companies feel they have decent ROI for putting a butt in the marketing chair that day? Can they measure the impact on Friday’s sales from those tweets? There’s no information in the Clickz post measuring that.

Did customers who read the tweets feel more connected to the retailer? Again, nothing to prove yes or no to that question. It is likely that someone who included @Target in a tweet that @Target responded to felt good at seeing a @mention on their screen. That goodwill exists, even if it isn’t measurable. And I bet the retailers feel they learned something from watching tweet traffic about their brand.

But if you’re the VP of Marketing, were you talking about tweets at Monday morning’s leadership meeting? Or were you talking about web traffic and print ad circulations compared to same store sales?

My guess is it was the later. The tweet traffic surely came up in conversation. But the finance people had already left the room.

What’s all this mean to small retailers?  My take – Twitter is a strange animal. It makes folks feel good, but it doesn’t print money. Invest in it carefully and build in feedback loops into all parts of your organization.

What do you think? Are those re-tweet numbers surprising? What conclusions come to mind as you look at the results?

Do you know of any small retailers who were successful using Twitter last Friday? I’d love to hear about them.

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