Ah Twitter, the blue-birded blogging birthplace of tweets and retweets, where brands, marketers and advertisers alike have staked their claim -- all in an attempt to increase their bottom line via real-time engagement.

I actually just made up that definition off the top of my head but I must say, it's not half bad. Not half good, either, but not half bad.

Now in case you just landed on this planet or were busy the last 5 years or so, here are some of the latest Twitter stats to illustrate just how popular and powerful Twitter has become in the world of social media.

Twitter statistics mistakes marketers make branding

Obviously, Twitter is a very popular and powerful platform. So with all this popularity and power going for it, can anyone tell me why, despite the fact that 90% of the top 50 retailers have a presence on Twitter, only a mere 29% use it to actively engage with consumers?

What's even more head-scratching is the fact that while fewer of the top 50 brands use Instagram and Pinterest -- 42% and 60%, respectively -- they are much more engaged on these sites. Of the 42% who have an Instagram account, 80% of them are actively engaged. As for Pinterest, of the 60% with a presence on the platform, 70% are actively engaged.

What in the world is going on here?

Why are so many brands ignoring so many Tweets?

The results, which I read about on a story on prdaily.com, speak to a growing epidemic that is a combination of apathy and fear when it comes to brands and Twitter.

The apathetic side comes from the fact that far too many brands -- and I do not think this is reserved for retail brands by any means -- still feel Twitter can essentially run on auto-pilot.

I'm showing my age here, but who remembers the old Ronco Ron Popeil classic line of "set it and forget it?" It is my belief that many brands just "set it and forget it" when it comes to Twitter. No, not literally forgetting it, but more often than not they assign either an already over-worked marketer or young, inexperienced, entry-level person to man the Twitter account.

This person will do the obligatory Tweets during the course of a day without any thought to content or more importantly, engagement.

The fear comes into play when a consumer takes to Twitter to rattle off a Tweet complaining about this or that or ask specific product and service questions. If the person manning the Twitter account is not trained in dealing with product/service questions let alone dealing with a crisis, they will be more apt to turn the other Tweet, in a manner of speaking.

Sorry, bad joke.

The point is if the one responsible for being the voice of a brand on Twitter -- which is unlike any other social media platform in many ways -- is not adequately trained to be the said voice, and is fearful of repercussions for saying the wrong thing, then the only thing left to do is ignore it altogether.

Lou Cimaglia, PR director at Grow Socially, told PR Daily: "A Twitter account is an official corporate channel of communication. It is a reflection of the brand. Imagine having a half-finished website up and running. It is unthinkable for a large company."

Rock on, Lou, for it IS completely unthinkable for a large company or brand or any brand for that matter to not realize the magnitude of being the voice of their brand in the Twittersphere.

Brian Chandler, president of Commonwealth Public Relations said, "Big brands should view Twitter just as they do customer call centers," adding that "in most cases, social media for retail companies should be considered a customer service communication tool, especially since a phone call is a one-to-one conversation, but social media creates a one-to-many conversation that everyone sees."

I would just add to Chandler's comments that social media for ALL companies should be considered a customer service communications tool.

Why do you think so many tweets go unanswered by so many brands?

Who do you think should be responsible for manning a given brand's Twitter account and why?

As a consumer do you take to Twitter to lodge a complaint, ask a question and if so, has your Tweet gone unanswered?

Sources: prdaily.comedudemic.com

Named one of the Top 100 Influencers In Social Media (#41) by Social Technology Review and a Top 50 Social Media Blogger by Kred, Steve Olenski is a senior content strategist at Responsys, a leading global provider of on-demand email and cross-channel marketing solutions.