Despite the ability of a certain little birdie to get messages across the world, reaching Israeli consumers via advertising on Twitter remains an unrealistic goal.
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In 2012, global investments in mobile phone advertising were estimated to total $6.43 billion. Advertising on cellular phones – a primary medium for Tweeters – in the U.S. was estimated at 3% of total advertising, whereas in Israel it comprises less than 0.5% of the total.
“Israeli tweeters are a pleasant mix of geeks and media folks. This network has yet to reach a wide range of people here,” says Motti Peer, CEO of the social media agency Blonde 2.0.
He estimates that only 55,000 Israelis are on Twitter. With such a tiny sliver of Israelis sharing their thoughts via 140-character nuggets, advertising on the social media network is, well, #AWasteOfTime.
“People don’t find it useful, with its different jargon," Peer says of Twitter. "One needs to know how to tweet and how to use hashtags. Twitter users need to be clever, whereas on Facebook it's easy just to show off photos of your kids."
According to Peer, Facebook usage took off in Israel three years ago, when the interface was translated into Hebrew. Twitter’s interface was translated in January 2012, but local usage did not soar, to put it mildly.
Nevertheless, Twitter has an advantage in spotting new trends, as a source of news updates and as a platform for business. It can serve as a conduit for short reports from clients. Peer claims that consumers can use Twitter to voice their complaints, which is something that Israelis have long excelled at.
“In countries such as Japan or the UK, Twitter is even more popular than Facebook,” says Peer. Last year, the popular British show "X-Factor" allowed viewers to vote for their favorite contestant over Twitter as well in the traditional form of SMS. In Israel, by contrast, Twitter is nowhere to be found in entertainment show and media events. Here, social media activity is relegated almost exclusively to Facebook.
Peer points out that the popular singing competition show "The Voice" took a stab at including Twitter in their broadcasts last year, but dropped the idea after it failed to catch on with viewers.
Israeli politicians maintain a presence on Twitter, but most of their tweeting is directed to users overseas. And despite the looming elections scheduled for January 22, Israelis are in no way flocking to the site to hear what the candidates have to say. “Politicians do use Twitter, but this has not expanded user numbers,” says Peer.
Because its usership is so low, Twitter isn't showing much interest in becoming a follower of Israel, either. According to Peer, Israeli advertisers find Twitter useful mainly for approaching potential overseas customers, or for companies that don't fit on Facebook.
"Lawyers can't advertise on Facebook," Peer says, "but they do advertise on Twitter.