The Rise and Fall of Twitter, Part 2
In Part 1, I discussed how the core function of Twitter had changed (or evolved depending on your point of view) from a social based networking site to a streaming source of comments and links designed to sell, brand, promote, and gain followers.
So after reading the previous article, you have either thrown your hands in the air deciding that Twitter is nothing more than a group of people focused only on their own success, or you’ve become intrigued by the dynamics of an ever changing online environment.
If the first one describes you, your position would be tough to argue against. Many people, including me, have spent a great deal of time staring at Twitter feeds wondering what our lives have become. Is this worth it? Are there other ways to get new clients? The answer is yes. Keep in mind that businesses were succeeding long before Twitter came along. And while Twitter has been used as a successful marketing tool, any business that is legitimately able to compete in the market place does not need to rely on it.
But that doesn’t mean Twitter is worth walking away from. Like any other form of media, understanding how to use it to convey a message and how others use it to receive that message can help you to make an educated decision as to whether it’s right for you.
While I have had a Twitter account for about a year, I spent many months following and unfollowing people from various genres before starting my own Twitter campaign. I have read tweets, retweets, clicked on links, tracked other people followers, and examined people’s careers outside of the Twitter universe. Through this, I have been able to classify Tweeters into 9 unique groups:
Mass Media Celebrities
These are people who are household names. They have earned their celebrity status by their accomplishments outside of Twitter. Oprah Winfrey, Kim Kardashian, and Lance Armstrong have all chosen to use Twitter as a means to communicate with their fans, keep their name in the media, and promote their ventures. Just as in real life, they are very selective whom they associate. Many celebrities follow just a few people (or less) while having millions of followers. For most celebrities, dialogue with followers is minimal.
I believe if not for Twitter, there would be a surplus of waiters and short order cooks. There are legions of Twitter experts, masters and gurus. What makes this group worth mentioning is how the vast majority of them don’t seem to have any legitimate track record prior to their first tweet. Names like Warren Whitlock, Mari Smith and Scott Stratten may be unknown to the average person, but are considered stars in the Twitter world. Their success is built on their follower list and their claims that they can show anyone how to get more followers. Just don’t spend too much time looking for their resumes.
Companies large and small have only recently begun to understand the importance of Twitter. From Apple to Domino’s Pizza, businesses that have opened themselves up to consumer dialogue have seen their brands gain strength. Whether motivated by criticism or public relations, the corporate world is seeing Twitter as an effective sales and customer service tool.
Every industry has it’s experts. And many of them love to Tweet their opinions or links to relevant articles and web sites. Occasionally experts can drift into celebrity status, such as Bill Gates, while celebrities can also become experts, as did Al Gore.
Twitter has created a unique opportunity for people who would not otherwise be heard or noticed to now reach potentially millions, all while sitting behind a desk in their pajamas. For some, their egos have kicked into high gear and they have become focused on achieving the same social status in Twitter they could never achieve in person. They will tweet whatever gets the best response. Comments, followers and retweets are the fruits of victory. A lucky few have had success parlaying their Twitter fame into business consulting and speaking opportunities.
It has been said that everyone has something to sell. The question is how obvious do you want to be about it. On Twitter both companies and individuals hock deals, limited time offers, loyalty programs, and MLM schemes. They generally follow others in the hopes of getting those to follow them back. Their tweet frequency is usually frequent.
What’s for lunch? Believe it or not there are still people who will gladly share that information and many more who will listen. Rambling is a tweet about nothing. A new jacket you bought, a movie you saw, or just a comment about the weather. Celebrities, experts and sellers can all become ramblers at some point. While I generally don’t like to ramble, I did notice that I got the best response when I tweeted about having to spend a whole day alone with my two young kids. So maybe a little rambling isn’t so bad.
First it was Facebook friends, now Twitter followers. In the eyes of some, numbers don’t lie. Someone with 10,000 followers must be ten times more popular than someone with 1,000 followers, right? To any marketing expert, the question is not “how many” but “who”.
Some people are just content reading Tweets without feeling the need to contribute. And this is perfectly fine. Those they follow can be an ever changing mix of news, celebrities, or anyone they find interesting.
Which one do you want to be? Who do you want to reach? I am a big believer in being true to yourself, especially when it comes to marketing on a personal level. If you try to be what you think people want you to be, you end up appealing to no one. If you are knowledgeable in a specific field, or have a unique style, let that show through your tweets. Don’t worry about trying to be like everyone else. That’s a great way to blend in. And if you want to be noticed, you can’t blend in.
My suggestion to any business looking to dive into the Twitter “pool” is this: add value to your marketplace. Focus on who you want following you and provide tweets that will get read by that group. With all the people sending out links to silly You Tube videos, or retweeting articles that have already circled the Twitter universe twice, a Twitter source that sends out relevant, interesting tweets is like a breath of fresh air. People will follow, they will listen, and they will retweet to their own followers.
Here are 11 tips I would suggest to anyone looking to incorporate Twitter into their marketing program:
- Be yourself. Talk about what you know and what interests you. You will then attract followers that share your passion.
- Follow others that are in your industry, plus anyone else you find interesting (such as Conan O’Brien). After all, it’s your account.
- Based on tip #2, only retweet items that are relevant to your industry. Forget the silly stuff, even if you find it amusing. Let your followers get that stuff from other people who they expect it from.
- Encourage dialogue. Compliment people on interesting tweets. Or post open questions about what’s going on in your industry or company.
- Thank people for retweeting your stuff. This is also a great way to start dialogue.
- Focus your tweets. If you’re a local restaurant, tweet about new dishes and specials, not the status of the real estate market.
- Don’t worry about the number of followers you have. In many cases people with thousands of followers are still not being read.
- While linking tweets to other sites is fine, original content from your own site is always best. It will help establish you as an expert and will draw ore traffic to your site.
- Your site is the backbone of your online marketing. Link back to it often in your tweets. Just make sure there is great content. A link to your home page won’t cut it.
- What are you giving away? Are you entertaining? Can you teach something? These are reasons people will follow you. Don’t assume being a nice guy is enough.
- Mention your Twitter account in all your marketing materials.
Remember, like all forms of social media on the web, Twitter is continuously evolving and changing. Whether this change is for the better or worse depends only on what you are looking to get out of it. What’s most important is that you stick to your ideals, beliefs and business strategies. Keeping these traits common among all forms of social marketing, conventional marketing, and how you interact with clients is your key to long term success, regardless of the status of your Twitter account.