Study: Users follow brands for the deals

Ronny Kerr · November 9, 2009 · Short URL:

Razorfish report finds the biggest followers are deal-searchers or previous customers

brandA new Razorfish brand report released over the weekend takes a closer look at how consumers are using the Web to interact with brands in new and powerful ways. For its 2009 Digital Brand Experience Report, Razorfish surveyed 1,000 U.S. "connected consumers," defined as those people who have broadband access, have spent $150 online in the past six months, have visited a social media site like MySpace or YouTube, and have interacted with digital media like photos or videos.

According to Razorfish, almost 40% of consumers have friended a brand on Facebook and/or MySpace, while 26% have done the same on Twitter. Of those Twitter users, 44% report that the possibility of exclusive deals or other special offers is what entices them to follow brands. For those who said they friended brands on Facebook and/or MySpace, 37% also cited exclusive deals as their primary reason for doing so.

Razorfish thinks this is unsurprising:

Dell has earned kudos from social media mavens for generating $3 million in sales from its Dell Outlet through Twitter. Starbucks has soared to the top of Facebook brand pages, with nearly 4 million friends, by offering fans coupons for free pastries and ice cream. And Whole Foods tops Twitter with 1.5 million followers by broadcasting weekly specials and shopping tips.

Beyond hunting for deals and the like, users seem to want to follow brands that they've already demonstrated their support for through purchases. 33% of consumers friend a brand on Facebook/MySpace and 24% do the same on Twitter because they are current customers of the brand already.

Razorfish believes the key to maintaining these relationships rests in the brand's ability to use the real-time social tools to interact with their customers and to continue to provide good service even after the purchase has been made.

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What is Twitter?

Twitter is an online information network that allows anyone with an account to post 140 character messages, called tweets. It is free to sign up. Users then follow other accounts which they are interested in, and view the tweets of everyone they follow in their "timeline." Most Twitter accounts are public, where one does not need to approve a request to follow, or need to follow back. This makes Twitter a powerful "one to many" broadcast platform where individuals, companies or organizations can reach millions of followers with a single message. Twitter is accessible from, our mobile website, SMS, our mobile apps for iPhone, Android, Blackberry, our iPad application, or 3rd party clients built by outside developers using our API. Twitter accounts can also be private, where the owner must approve follower requests. 

Where did the idea for Twitter come from?

Twitter started as an internal project within the podcasting company Odeo. Jack Dorsey, and engineer, had long been interested in status updates. Jack developed the idea, along with Biz Stone, and the first prototype was built in two weeks in March 2006 and launched publicly in August of 2006. The service grew popular very quickly and it soon made sense for Twitter to move outside of Odea. In May 2007, Twitter Inc was founded.

How is Twitter built?

Our engineering team works with a web application framework called Ruby on Rails. We all work on Apple computers except for testing purposes. 

We built Twitter using Ruby on Rails because it allows us to work quickly and easily--our team likes to deploy features and changes multiple times per day. Rails provides skeleton code frameworks so we don't have to re-invent the wheel every time we want to add something simple like a sign in form or a picture upload feature.

How do you make money from Twitter?

There are a few ways that Twitter makes money. We have licensing deals in place with Google, Yahoo!, and Microsoft's Bing to give them access to the "firehose" - a stream of tweets so that they can more easily incorporate those tweets into their search results.

In Summer 2010, we launched our Promoted Tweets product. Promoted Tweets are a special kind of tweet which appear at the top of search results within, if a company has bid on that keyword. Unlike search results in search engines, Promoted Tweets are normal tweets from a business, so they are as interactive as any other tweet - you can @reply, favorite or retweet a Promoted Tweet. 

At the same time, we launched Promoted Trends, where companies can place a trend (clearly marked Promoted) within Twitter's Trending Topics. These are especially effective for upcoming launches, like a movie or album release.

Lastly, we started a Twitter account called @earlybird where we partner with other companies to provide users with a special, short-term deal. For example, we partnered with Virgin America for a special day of fares on that were only accessible through the link in the @earlybird tweet.


What's next for Twitter?

We continue to focus on building a product that provides value for users. 

We're building Twitter, Inc into a successful, revenue-generating company that attracts world-class talent with an inspiring culture and attitude towards doing business.