Tesco arrives on Twitter – kind of…

It appears that Tesco-owned U.S food chain Fresh & Easy has a twitter profile (as reported by Brand Republic).

Aside from the fact it might stop brands using & in their name to enable them to register on new sites more easily, it also shows Twitter is gaining more and more validity as a customer service and communication channel.

As the Brand Republic article notes – it’s interesting that U.S. mainstream companies are starting to jump on Twitter, but UK firms are being pretty reluctant – Tesco doesn’t have an account for example.

And yet:

‘UK Internet visits to www.twitter.com have increased by 631% over the last 12 months, with 485% of that growth coming this year. Twitter is more popular with Brits than Americans: last week the site’s share of UK Internet visits was 70% higher its share of visits in America.’ (From Robin Goad at Hitwise).

So why are UK firms (that aren’t in the tech space) more reluctant to jump on Twitter than their U.S counterparts? Anyone got any suggestions?

The User Generated Content myth.

You know how everyone, their dog, and their dog’s dog is talking about User Generated Content, Engagement, and how everyone is dying to upload their lives onto the internet, if only they had the chance?

Bill Tancer from web audience measurement firm Hitwise has some stats for you:

0.16% of the people visiting Youtube are uploading videos.

0.2% are visiting Flickr to upload images.

Wikipedia has the biggest involvement at 4.6%

That’s not to say they aren’t immensely popular, and getting more so by the second.

“But despite relatively low-user involvement, visits to Web 2.0-style sites have spiked 668 percent in two years”

The lesson is that millions want to be able to take a peek at the private lives of others, and displaying User Generated Content is a great way to build an audience and get traffic. But don’t expect a huge amount of content to suddenly appear overnight. Especially if your site isn’t a giant like Youtube or Flickr. Because if they’re getting 0.2%, you can bet a site with a smaller audience will get far less than 0.2% uploading. After all, what kind of exhibitionist targets smaller groups of people?