Marketers have more ways than ever to build personal relationships with consumers. And they can use these relationships to build sales. But if marketers aren’t respectful, they’ll find consumers severing these relationships. This holds true both for email, Facebook and Twitter according to new research from ExactTarget.

The way ExactTarget analysts see it, a consumer’s relationship with a product or brand goes through a predictable life cycle that can mirror personal friendships. The initial spark leads to excitement, purchases, and brand advocacy. But if the marketer does not handle the relationship properly, the consumer will move on.

ExactTarget’s report on this topic highlights consumer interactions with email, Facebook and Twitter. I found the data on Twitter to be particularly interesting. Currently 17% of online U.S. consumers maintain a Twitter account though only 9% of all U.S. online consumers are active on Twitter. Half of these consumers are followers and 64% check Twitter once a day. And a significant majority expects to get marketing messages through the service.

For marketers, Twitter offers the benefit of brevity, accessibility and real-time interaction. So while Twitter has more of a real-time two-way communication aspect than email or Facebook, the service isn’t for everyone.

Almost half of people who start out with Twitter, abandon the service altogether. Here are the reasons people leave Twitter:

  • The service is pointless 52%
  • The service is boring 38%
  • The service is chaotic 23%

When consumers stop following brands on Twitter, they do so for the following top reasons:

  • Content becomes repetitive/boring 52%
  • Tweet stream too crowded with marketing posts 41%
  • Company posts too frequently 39%
  • Followed  the company to take advantage of one-time promotion 27%

Twitter can be an effective tool for marketers for a certain segment of the population, but these companies must be sure to follow the unspoken rules of engagement for this platform: Don’t overwhelm followers with Tweets  and respond promptly when a following posts a question. This strategy won’t save all of the consumer relationships but it might rescue the important ones and make the investment in this marketing channel worthwhile.

[Source: The Social Break-Up. ExactTarget.com. 2011. Web. 22 Mar. 2011]