The following is a guest post by Josh Becerra @joshbecerra.
Recently the New York Times published and article entitled Buying Their Way to Twitter Fame. I have to admit that – as an advocate and evangelist for how Twitter can be a powerful tool for business – this article rubbed me the wrong way.
You see, I believe that anyone with the “Get Twitter Followers Fast” mentality completely misunderstands where the real power of Twitter lies. It doesn’t matter if you are a web-based business, a business with a storefront, a politician, an entertainer, or some sort of expert or thought leader – your goal should be to have as many following/follower relationships that are reciprocal as possible. Reciprocal following/follower relationships with other Twitter users who are active and interested in what you are publishing are the building blocks for stronger long-term customer relationships – relationships that can lead to first time business, repeat business and increased spending.
Fake, inactive followers aren’t worth anything. Here is an excerpt from the NYTimes article which highlights this “Get Twitter Followers Fast” mentality:
“There’s a tremendous cachet associated with having a large number,” said Mr. Nainan, 31, adding later, “When people see that you have that many followers, they’re like: ‘Oh, my goodness, this guy is popular. I might want to book him.’ ”
Really? This logic is built on the assumption that Twitter users are mindless idiots who will jump at whatever shiny object is placed in front of them. Building your personal or business’ brand on the assumption that you’re smarter than your customers or that you can somehow trick your customers, is a recipe for disaster. The sooner people get over the idea that Twitter is some sort of popularity contest, the better.
Unfortunately, a plethora of “get Twitter followers fast” scams and services are out there in the marketplace pushing this popularity contest idea. Honestly the reason why these scams and services get traction is because building an engaged, relevant, targeted audience is hard work – if you want to do it right.
Best practices for building an engaged audience on Twitter would dictate that you 1) have to find the right people to follow 2) have to track if they follow you back and unfollow those that don’t 3) have to track who you have already followed so you don’t follow the same person twice. Virtually all of the get Twitter followers fast scams and services don’t take any of these best practices into consideration. They fill your account with followers who are both fake and inactive. Building an audience with followers obtained using “Get Twitter Followers Fast” methods is like building castles in the sky.
Let’s take a look at how the get Twitter followers fast scams or solutions stack up.
Best Practice: Follow users you would like to have as followers; users who are relevant to your Twitter goals and your overall business goals.
Example #1 – Find other Twitter users who self-proclaim their interest in what you do, or what you have to say, in their own bio.
If you are an online retailer that drop-ships specialized dirt-bike equipment throughout the US – then you would want to build an audience of self-proclaimed dirt-bike enthusiasts.
Example #2 – Find other Twitter users who live or work near your place of business.
If you are a local pizza shop that tweets specials and discounts – then you would want to build an audience by location. Connecting with others who have their location set close to yours – people who can drive over, walk in the door and put money in your till.
Get Twitter Followers Fast solutions don’t take this best practice into consideration at all. Your Twitter account is filled with fake or inactive accounts that will likely never engage with your brand and almost certainly will not become a customer.
If you are going to spend time developing a presence for your business on Twitter you might as well focus on these best practices that will increase your Twitter ROI. So go out and find Twitter users that are more likely to:
- be engaged in what you are talking about
- have a conversation with you
- become a customer
So as you can tell, I firmly believe that the “Get Twitter Followers Fast” scams and services are detrimental to your brand, your Twitter ROI, and they make no sense if you are interested in connecting with real customers. Bottom line, they are a recipe for disaster.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Josh Becerra @joshbecerra is a startup entrepreneur and builder of tools that help businesses have more success on Twitter.
His latest launch is called tweepwise - a smart Twitter follower acquisition and management tool designed for Social Media Management Agencies.
Link to NYT Article: Buying Their Way to Twitter Fame
I had the opportunity to attend the 2012 SXSW Interactive Festival. It was a great experience. While I was hoping for an emerging tech breakout, the biggest winner was people. With so many sessions oversold, do you think people want to connect in-real-life? ; )
Here are some of my takeaways:
If I was a startup today and I needed to raise money (that debate is another blog post), I could try to borrow from a bank or seek investors. Now, if I was really connected and venture capital made the most sense, funding from a well known celebrity would have a huge added benefit: recognition and advocacy from a pop culture name.
But is that selling out? Maybe it’s hacking the system. Most startups don’t make it for a lot of reasons. You would certainly increase your odds of survival by jumping on a celebrity coattail.
So, what about the celebrity? Are they just selling their name by investing in companies?
Picture this: you starred in some movies or hit it big in music and now have more money than you know what to do with. Perhaps you think about doing something smart with your resources. Do you invest in the stock market? Probably. Real estate? Sure. Those are basic building blocks in your massive portfolio. Now you have some speculative funds. Why wouldn’t you try venture capital?
In all seriousness, I think high net-worth investors are looking for non-traditional opportunities and see the attractive potential returns of venture investment. The reality is some businesses need funding and investors, even rockstars, want some of their money in alternative investments. But you better have a good product, because even Bieber can’t turn your idea into gold.
Image credit: covilha
I met with two colleagues managing social media marketing at large companies. They were the only person responsible for the strategy, content, engagement, measurement, and more. Both have a huge task of proving a new marketing (and sometimes customer service) channel, all by themselves.
They are Lone Rangers in the wild marketplace of business trying to make an impact with little resources and understanding from their leadership. How will they survive?
Here are a few ideas that might help my friends:
Build a network for Lone Ranger practitioners. Think Social Media Council for mid-sized businesses.
Create bite-sized education for leadership and staff. The format could be one page handouts on some of the major concepts or lunch-and-learn sessions. Help increase the social IQ across the organization.
Talk in more traditional business language. Instead of a buzzword like engagement, talk about the CRM aspects of Facebook.
How would you help a Social Media Lone Ranger? What tools would you share?
My big bank sent me a new check card recently. Except, I did not ask for one. It came with lots of confusing notices about security, blah, blah, blah. I left it on my desk because my existing card was working fine.
So, I start getting ominous messages from the bank about being at risk if I don’t activate my new card. What? I did not ask for one and did not need one. I break down and call the big bank.
Here’s their explanation paraphrased:
Big Bank: Mr. Bursch we noticed that your current check card might be one of many of our customers that is at risk for fraud. [Huh?] We proactively sent you a new card. You need to activate the new one by X date because the old one will no longer be valid.
Me: Security? Fraud? My old card was working just fine and I had no problems. So, why do I need this one?
Big Bank: This a process to help protect our customers.
Me: Uh, I thought I was already protected or that your were looking out for me. So, I have to upgrade to the new card?
Big Bank: Yes sir.
Me: So, now I have to take time to update all of my online business and information online?
Big Bank: I’m sorry sir, this update is mandatory.
Me: So let me get this straight, I have to do something I did not need because of your policy AND spend hours of my time to fix something that was not broken. Hmmm.
Big Bank: I apologize for the inconvenience…
You get the picture? The Big Bank customer service agent was fed all the lines and it wasn’t their fault, just their job. Was this new care really about security? It would actually be refreshing if they just told me: Sir, we are making changes in our business and will probably be charging you more in the future. In order to do this, we need to give all our customers new cards and new numbers. Sorry for the inconvenience.
But then that’s another blog post.
Some years ago, way before home banking got to Portugal, I went to the local agency of my bank to request a money transfer to Belgium, in order to pay for one of my father’s horses life insurance.
Naturally, I took with me the destination account’s IBAN (International Bank Account Number). After giving it to the bank clerk…she said she couldn’t order the transfer without having another code: the SWIFT code. It wasn’t my first time ordering such a transfer, so I said I knew it could be done without that code. Even thought it was always preferable to have it, I had to do the transfer that very same day because the horse was going on a show the next day and I needed the receipt of the transfer as proof of pay in case (God forbid) something happened, and had no possibility of getting the SWIFT code in due time.
She insisted she couldn’t do it and that I was wrong, so I asked her to call her superior; her answer was absolutely outrageous: “I’m not disturbing my superior with such a meaningless thing” and “sure the horse will be OK” (imagine mocking voice) I got furious. I had been a client on that bank for several years (my dad opened my first bank account there on my 14th b’day). After insisting a couple of times, with no reaction whatsoever from the clerk, I headed straight to the manager’s office on my own. Needless to say, she followed me. All the fuzz caught the attention of the manager. After explaining what had happened, he authorised the transfer, confirmed that, although preferable, the SWIFT code was not a “sine qua non” condition on the transfer and apologised. I was a heartbeat away from closing my account, had not the manager been so nice to me. Don’t know what happened to the clerk, but never saw her there since. Word is she got transferred. God bless home banking
Who does your company serve? Your customers or your stakeholders and policies?
So you’ve built a fan base on Facebook. Nice job. Now what? Well if you haven’t been hiding under a rock then you know the recent updates announced by Facebook at the f8 Conference have big implications for businesses. The biggest: Engagement is even more important.
Here are the top three ways I think a brand can maintain and build engagement:
1. Content - Create compelling content that resonates with your fans. If you are not seeing Likes, comments, or shares, go back to the drawing board for content. As Facebook increases the importance of a visual stories with Timeline, consider integrating images and video in your content calendar.
2. Custom Development - Whether you agree or not with “Frictionless Sharing”, Facebook raised the stakes for application development. A straight-forward Like-gated download or promotion app might work initially to attract fans, but now that they are on board how will you maintain engagement? Fans have an updated News Feed and the shiny new Ticker to deal with. Will simple promotional applications get attention? Maybe. Maybe not. The point here: start thinking about custom development in Facebook with more weight. It is not going to be enough to get a fan to Like your page. You will need to give them some experience to come back for and interact with your brand. This can be costly.
3. Off the shelf solutions - Application development can be expensive and an alternative is off-the-shelf Facebook applications. Some vendors include, Snap App, Involver, North Social and more. These companies provide a modular approach to applications and offer a variety of interactive experiences.
What other ways can a brand build engagement on Facebook?
I know there are hundreds if not thousands of posts on networking. I’m not trying to add to the noise here, I’m writing this to remind myself.
Here’s what works for me and people I admire:
Set expectations. Why are you asking for a meeting? Be clear.
Give, don’t take. If you set up a meeting, make sure to give something away. (Knowledge, connections, empathy, ideas, etc)
Do your homework. Google, Linkedin, whatever it takes. Learn more about who you are meeting with and figure out how you might help them or share something with them.
Be early, not just on time.
Review the purpose for meeting. Start off by checking expectations.
Ask questions (open-ended) and listen more than you talk.
Favorite questions: What are you most excited about right now? What is your biggest challenge?
Take notes. Often there are follow-up actions or connections to make, write it down.
Follow through. Make a promise? Keep it.
Be grateful. Simply appreciate the other person and their generosity of time/resources/connections.
What works for you?
Most big brands have developed a presence on the largest social network in the world, Facebook. And most are using Facebook to connect and market to customers and prospects.
One interesting trend I’m noticing on some of the pages that I oversee:
People want customer service in the channel they are active.
It started with a simple question.
A fan asked about a specific problem. Our community manager answered. All in the public. So, now other people tried getting their problem solved. And we helped. But wait a second, I work at a marketing agency. Why are we doing customer service? Good question.
Fans and followers don’t care which channel you’re supposed to get service on, they just want help. So, maybe helping your customers, especially out in the open on networks, is marketing. It doesn’t really matter if the brand or fan fired the first shot in customer service. What matters is happy customers. That’s why you’re in business.
Are you providing customer service on Facebook or other social nets? Perhaps the question is could you?
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