I was interested to hear today that more people follow @stephenfry on Twitter than buy The Times, Independent, Guardian, Telegraph and Financial Times combined. This is a pretty interesting stat, but does it mean that Stephen Fry is better read that the UK’s broadsheet newspapers? The answer still has to be “no” – I’m one of Stephen Fry’s followers, but don’t read many of his tweets (although I’d love to take the time to read more), but if I buy a newspaper, I’m very likely to be spending a considerable time reading it.
So papers still have higher engagement, more depth and probably greater readership. In fact if you think of a tweet as being analogous to a headline, the number of people who see the headline in these papers probably exceeds the number who follow @stephenfry.
There are clear examples, however, that social media can have a huge impact. The Guardian – and many others – report that rapper 50 Cent managed to raise the value of his investment in H&H Imports, a company that sells his branded headphone by $10M. The value of the company increased by around $100M, probably making those 140 characters the most valuable tweet ever! Like any other stock bubble, the price has fallen again, but still remains well above its value before he tweeted.
Of course stock prices are also influenced by newspapers, as a well-known case of illegal ramping of stocks by journalists working for the UK Daily Mirror showed.
Social media clearly has huge impact, and is gradually eating away at the influence of traditional media. But marketing professionals need to make informed judgements, based on careful analysis. So let’s try to calm the hyperbole, get some balance, and develop integrated campaigns that use all channels to their best effect.