So with all the hype about Twitter, what’s the real truth? Is it the next big thing, a social media marketing breakthrough – or a monumental time waster, with people twittering and frittering their lives away with endless updates about what they had for lunch?
The Truth About Twitter…
A while back I wrote about my first few months experience on the service, and felt it had great potential to be a part of your social media marketing mix. Now after spending a few months more exploring the highways and byways of Twitterville, I’ve become convinced it’s a powerful tool that can enhance your social connections, and also offers some serious marketing traction, provided you know how to structure your use there. And by traction I’m not just referring to brand building, but actually producing sales. Lots of them.
Now obviously there are many people that view Twitter as purely a social connection platform, and I respect their desire to use it exclusively for that. (Not a few of which actually do update what they eat for every meal!) They can keep it in that realm by selectively choosing the people they follow.
But that is not the focus of this post. Here we will explore the marking possibilities of the service to expand your influence, develop connections, and grow your sales.
Leading a Tribe…
If you read “Tribes,” (And if not, what the Hell is the matter with you?), you’ll discover Twitter is a perfect way to keep in touch with your fellow tribe members.
Twitter is in essence a micro-blog, since your messages are limited to 140 characters. And instead of dropping by your website or getting a RSS feed, people choose to “follow” you. So when you log on to Twitter, you get a “stream” of all the postings (called “Tweets”) from the people you follow.
While there definitely are the menu tweeters, I’ve found that a broad and growing range of users there seem to view it more as a business network. And as a result, they’re much more open to business messages and even marketing appeals, provided you’re bringing real value to the relationship.
Monetizing the Micro-Blog…
In the few months I’ve been Twittering, I’m shocked with how enjoyable it can be, how helpful it is as a business resource, and how readily you can monetize it. It is this last application – actually making money from your postings there – that most seem to struggle with. (And some find sacrilegious of course, believing as they do, that Al Gore invented the Internet to provide them with free stuff.) But since no one would actually hire me for a job, I find the idea of making money a good thing, and found Twitter wildly profitable. So I’ve dusted off the original Manifesto, and updated it with some new “deadly sins” to avoid, as well as detailing how you can use the service to put a little jingle in your jeans.
Offering Value not Pitches…
Now I should note that I approach my Twittering the same way I do this Blog, email newsletters and websites. I believe in providing value, giving people a reason to view my stuff, and then offer options (coaching programs, seminars, consulting services, books, and other learning resources) where they can spend money if they like my work and want deeper assistance. So I don’t really make any sales from posting on Twitter directly, but I rake in a lot of dosh because I Twitter.
I don’t post links to sales letter sites, or do hard pitches, as that’s not really appropriate in the medium, and it’s not effective anyway. I do often link to my Blogs or newsletters that address topics of interest to my Twitter followers, and they often virally spread the message to others. My list grows and a lot of those people flash their cash for my other resources.
There are still a few nitwits that feel God put me on this earth expressly to work full-time providing them free advice, coaching and consulting, but far less than you may think. The vast majority of people, particularly on Twitter, understand that prosperity is a value for value exchange, and understand that while I may be a good guy – Mother Theresa is dead, and I still need to feed my cat.
The effective social media strategies are a move away from interruption marketing and assaulting your market – and a positive move toward simply interacting and being in touch with your market. If you show them you’re passionate about your work and truly interested in providing value to them, you’ll soon find yourself helping to lead a fiercely loyal tribe.
So I’d like to share how you can use Twitter to facilitate connections, build your database, and develop a steady stream of new customers. However, before we do that, we have to take a detour and explore the things you don’t want to do, because they alienate people and cause them to un-follow you fast. We can categorize this behavior as the “11 Deadly Sins” or just for fun, let’s call them…
The 11 People Ruining the Neighborhood in Twitterville…
1) The TMI Guy
Information is valuable and we all got on Twitter to get more of it. But there is such a thing as too much information. The TMI guy (or gal) suffers from the delusion that their life is interesting, and Tweets a steady stream of inane blather from rising until they mercifully fall asleep with their fingers on the keyboard. The typical stream from someone in this category looks like this:
@VacuousTwit going to the mall, 2 minutes ago
@VacuousTwit Clipping my toenails. Toe jam ew! 4 minutes ago
@VacuousTwit have to answer the phone, back in a min 5 minutes ago
@VacuousTwit my cat just spit up a hairball yuck! 7 minutes ago
@VacuousTwit anyone see Buffy last night? 10 minutes ago
@VacuousTwit pink t-shirt or blue one, decisions! 12 minutes ago
@VacuousTwit Getting dressed, back in a minute 13 minutes ago
@VacuousTwit No tweets from Melissa, bummer, 14 minutes ago
@VacuousTwit Coco Puffs, yum!, 16 minutes ago
@VacuousTwit BRB, gotta poop, 19 minutes ago
@VacuousTwit just got up, brushing my teeth, 20 minutes ago
The TMI Twitterer believes we’re all fascinated to learn that the mail arrived, what they had for lunch, or that they need to buy maxi pads. We’re not. In fact, we really don’t give a shit.
Not even your mother wants to hear a minute-by-minute broadcast of your day. Your life is just not that interesting. This is the online equivalent of the Valley Girl.
Please note if you are @lancearmstrong, @THE_REAL_SHAQ, or @MCHammer, you get an exemption. Because we’re fanatically obsessed with celebrity, we want to know the minutia about every thing that ever happens to and around you, including when you cut your toenails. Sorry @PerryBelcher, you haven’t reached this status yet. But we love ya anyway!
If you’re in doubt as to how well the scintillating play-by-play accounts of your bunion surgery, parking tickets, and bowel movements are playing in Peoria, surf over to twitalyzer.com Don’t get suicidal when you see your score, they’re very tough, and you’re only as good as the day you play the ballgame. But it will give you a very realistic view of the impact you are actually making on Twitter.
You can also stop by TwitterSheep and they will run a cloud of the most used terms in your followers’ bios, and that can give you an idea what they’re most interested to hear about.
BTW, don’t think that just because you have a lot of followers, they’re hanging on to every scintillating word you say. Many power users use applications like SocialToo to auto-follow everyone that follows them, but then also use TweetDeck to screen out the Twitter trailer trash. So just because someone is following you doesn’t mean they’re actually reading your crap.
Probably the best gauge of this is how many times you get “ReTweeted,” which simply means someone actually read what you wrote, liked it, and resent it to their own followers. Stop by Retweetist.com and see how often the Twitterverse is shopping your stuff around. Also, if you're still unsure, check out the video Mike Wesley did on ReTweeting here.
By the way, this doesn’t mean your tweets have to be all clinical and business. We really do want to know if the new Will Ferrell movie is as bad as it looks, if you’re a diehard “Lost” fan, or your mother passed away. We want to know who you are and what makes you tick. Just not everything.
2) The Food Dude
This poor soul is one of the insular twits we discussed earlier that believes the reason Twitter has amassed millions of followers is to know what he eats for each meal. Following them is kind of like having a one-way conversation with a gourmet idiot savant.
The banality of their tweets is matched only by the frequency of their flatulence. A quick look at their tweet stream reveals a page like this:
@FoodDude 9:12 French toast or pancakes? Decisions!
@FoodDude 6 pm bacon-wrapped sea trout with sapphire and jersey royals
@FoodDude 12:30 meatloaf with mango chutney. I’m so excited!
@FoodDude 8:20 scrambled eggs Florentine again, think I’m in rut
@FoodDude 4:45 Karen promised to make stroganoff 2nite, my favorite!
3) The Reply Guy
The symptom of this malady is the inability to send a private direct message (DM) to anyone. Instead, these people post every reply in their tweet stream. It comes from childhood, when mommy dearest locked them in the closet with nothing but DMs. Twitter recently changed the procedure so that replies are only shown to people following that person, but it can still get very tedious. So if you have this malady your stream is cluttered with dozens of messages from them like:
@ReplyGuy @Nancy no, I don’t think so
@ReplyGuy @BoringDude yes, after the game
@ReplyGuy @Nancy ok
@ReplyGuy @Lou_Stoolz I think so
@ReplyGuy @Nancy bye
@ReplyGuy @DenverDanny only if he can do it for less than $20
@ReplyGuy @Hugh_Jazz OMG!
@ReplyGuy @A1Escort is she discrete?
Twitter is not a chat room. They have places for that. They’re called “chat rooms.” That doesn’t mean you need to private message everything. Lots of times your replies may be of interest to your followers, particularly if you’re answering questions in your area of expertise. And the service is really meant to connect and develop relationships. But if someone checks out your page and all they see are replies that mean nothing to them, they probably won’t want to connect with you. So if you reply a lot, you may want to do so with some context, so readers can decide if they want to click through to the other person’s page to follow the plot.
4) The Multi-Level Morons
These idiots seem to be rapidly migrating from Facebook over to Twitter faster than @guykawasaki can toss out shameless plugs for Alltop. They set up an account and think sending their pitch out every three hours is going to build a group. They’re like a combination Jehovah Witness/Amway distributor on crystal meth. When you land on their page, it looks like this:
@MLMoron Amazing jungle juice from berries grown on secret mountain makes limbs grow back, 3 hours ago
@MLMoron Amazing jungle juice from berries grown on secret mountain makes limbs grow back, 5 hours ago
@MLMoron Amazing jungle juice from berries grown on secret mountain makes limbs grow back, 7 hours ago
@MLMoron Amazing jungle juice from berries grown on secret mountain makes limbs grow back, 9 hours ago
@MLMoron Amazing jungle juice from berries grown on secret mountain makes limbs grow back, 11 hours ago
If you’re doing this, I promise you that the only people reading your tweets are already in your group, and they’re drinking the jungle juice already.
5) The Novelist
Listen kids, this is not rocket science. There are only 140 characters for your tweets. When you’re typing a tweet, the nice folks from Twitterland have even given you a counter. When it says -7, that means you went 7 characters over and the last half of the link you’re sending out will be cut off. That makes you look dumb, and even worse, irritates me. Use Is.Gd or another service that shortens URLs and watch the character counter.
BTW, your brilliant branding strategy to have the username @World’s_Mostest_Greatest_Copywriter_Ever may not be as clever as you originally thought. It’s going to dramatically limit what you can say in your tweets, and will eliminate the likelihood that anyone can ReTweet you.
Likewise if you didn’t have enough sense to be born into a family with a short surname, be creative. There’s a reason Gary Vaynerchuk is @GaryVee. (Of course he’s a JETS fan, so don’t give him too much credit.) So instead of 140, limit yourself to 120. It’s the new black.
6) The Plagiarizer Twit
This person follows everybody, looking for good content that they plagiarize by re-sending it out as if it’s their own. It’s not a copyright issue, just bad form and a quick way to piss off people. The proper form is to ReTweet the stuff you like, and it’s very simple to do.
Just type in RT, put a space, their name with the @ in front of it, another space, then cut and paste their message. So it looks like:
RT @Randy_Gage: Do you make time for opportunity? http://ping.fm/3yTVP
Make sure there is a space after RT and after their name, before the message starts. And don’t forget the ‘@’ in front of their name, because that makes it a link to their page.
Once you start ReTweeting others, they often notice and return the favor. This gets your message and page in front of hundreds or even thousands of other readers, some who may decide to follow you. And ReTweeting good stuff also shows your own followers that you’re interested in providing value, not just hawking your miracle thigh cream. It also means you’re a good person and will receive your just reward in the afterlife.
7) ReTweet Pete
You’ll know this guy or gal by one look at their page. You couldn’t find an original thought there with a search party. Every tweet they do is a ReTweet. Dude, if we want to read what all those other people have to say, we’ll follow them. By all means, when you think something is valuable, ReTweet it and share with your followers. But if we follow you, it’s because we want to know what you have to say.
8) The Mysterious Stranger
So you get a message about a new follower and you click through to check them out. Nothing. No picture, no bio, not even the city they live in. Now if you just have the account to be in touch with a few friends and look for interesting stuff that’s fine. But if you are hoping to use social media to build your brand, expand your reach, or God forbid, actually make money, give us something to go on.
Put a pic on your page for God’s sake! If we go to your page and there’s only the Twitter graphic and no pic, it’s like a billboard that says, “Hi I’m Amish, just checking out this computer fad to see if it’s going to last.” Even 97-year-old mammies are emailing pix of their great-grandkids. If you don’t know how to load a photo yet, ask someone.
Make it a real photo of you, not your dog, cat, or llama. Please make it a current one also, and save your high school yearbook pic for the dating sites. We want to know who we’re conversing with. Likewise with caricatures or icons. Use them only if they really are an essential part of your branding.
List where you live. There are people that look to network with others in their town and some places are actually holding Tweet Ups where Twitterers in an area meet. And TwitterGrader lists the “royalty” in each town, and if you show up on that list you’ll attract more followers.
This is not Linkedin, or Plaxo. Keep with the friendly attitude of the site. Occupations like “Father of twins, Krispy Kreme addict, software developer and surfer” are okay here. “Engineer” is just boring and we’re afraid you might be Wally from Dilbert’s office.
Give us an idea of what you do, and why we might want to network with you. That doesn’t mean bludgeon us with a sales pitch. Just let us know how you might bring some value to us.
Your bio and your tweets should reflect who you are. Ideally they will anchor your brand in topic and tone. People should be able to take a look at your bio and the first page of your tweets and know what to expect if they follow you.
If you look at my page, you’ll see it mirrors what I do and who I really am. My posts are about success and prosperity, with a large dose of marketing. Just like me, they’re informative, sometimes snarky, direct, controversial, contain an occasional F-bomb, but always brilliant. And humble.
The majority of my tweets are about business. But you’ll also see posts about new Sci-Fi movies, fashion, or my Dr Pepper addiction, because that is stuff that’s part of me as well. I get a lot of comments from people that are really happy to learn more of my personal side, not just the business stuff. When you let down your guard a little, it shows us you’re human, and not a spam bot.
P.S. And what’s with all the “protected updates”? If you’re in the witness protection program, you probably shouldn’t be on Twitter.
9) The Codependent
Listen if you get your self-esteem from how many Facebook friends or Twitter followers you have, you have some unresolved childhood issues and need to call Dr. Phil.
We don’t want to get your tweets begging for more followers because when you get 200 you can go to bed, or crying because you woke up to discover there are two less people following you. And if you have to award prizes or give bribes to get people to follow you, what’s the point?
The people that respond to these pleas are the same ones that opt in to receive Spam emails. They’re looking for someone to talk to in the commercial break between Judge Judy and the Jerry Springer show. The whole idea is to create a group of people with commonalities and shared interests, so you can network and mastermind for mutual benefit, not accumulate a following of mindless boobs.
The same rules that govern direct mail lists, and email databases are in effect here. I guarantee you I make a lot more money from a few thousand followers on Twitter than a lot of the people with tens of thousands. The secret in any direct marketing list is having the right people on it. So don’t worry about quantity, do things that attract people that have an interest in what you do.
10) The Clueless Marketing Guru
These guys should know better, but they don’t. It’s one of the ironies of Twitter: The fact that there are some very bright marketing people – even Internet marketing gurus – that don’t get Twitter at all. Here’s the scenario:
Somebody tells them about Twitter, so their eyes get big at another chance to hawk their wares. So they set up a Twitter account, then do an email blast to their database, telling them to follow them. They get 5,000, 8,000 or 15,000 followers right away. Then the only time they send out a Tweet is to promote their next product launch. They tweet the link to their sales letter page and see the sales they make as proof that they’re a brilliant marketing genius that has figured out how to monetize Twitter.
What they don’t get is the people that bought are in their regular database and would have bought their shit anyway. So they’re really just wasting time, because they aren’t developing relationships or attracting new followers. In fact people that do follow them soon realize the only time they get a tweet from them is to pitch something. And meanwhile our guru is spending time maintaining their Twitter account when they could already reach the faithful with their regular marketing channels.
Then they go into radio silence for another three months and only surface when they have a new product launch. Guys, I know you think you’re an Internet marketing guru, but you might want to buy a clue.
The whole point of Twitter is to ENGAGE, speak with your market, listen to them, and make more connections. If you just see it as another email list to pitch, you’re missing the whole point.
11) The Quote Goat
Okay I’ll admit it: I like to read an inspirational or witty quote as much as the next guy. But we can go to the encyclopedia of quotations just like you did. If your whole stream is nothing but quotes, we don’t really need you. Once again, we follow people to learn their thoughts and insights, not just as a channel for robotic tweets.
Amazing New System Gets You Thousands of Followers!!!
Okay, so we’ve covered all the ways to drive people away and make yourself a pariah on Twitter. How do you attract people and build a strong and loyal following? How about trying this amazing new system? Put out good tweets with solid content. Engage people. Retweet others and be a part of the community.
Remember when the Internet was first blowing up, everyone was talking about the three ‘C’s: content, community and commerce. It’s not really that different today. The real king on Twitter is content. If you write stuff people care about, they follow you. And if you demonstrate that you are part of the community – by conversing, re-tweeting and offering value – the commerce will happen for you.
It is true that social media marketing is changing the way we market. It is a move away from interruption marketing and a move towards engagement with your tribe. And that’s a good thing. But there are still many principles that have always worked in traditional direct response marketing that work today as well. And one of those is that the quality of any list is much more important than quantity in terms off generating real response and conversions to sales.
Let’s say your church needs to raise $10,000 to fund a youth mission. I can get that quicker and easier with a sales letter to 400 people that attend your church than I would mailing to a rented list of 20,000 people. The letter will resonate with the parishioners and fall flat on the rented list.
In the last week I’ve received gorgeous four-color catalogs in the mail from a company offering cigars & humidors, and mail order wine. Both were very well done, with great copy and good layout. But I don’t smoke cigars or drink wine, so no matter how much money they spend or how effective they design these catalogs, they are still wasting their money mailing them to me.
You will sell a lot more grass skirts with an ad in “Hula Dancers Monthly” than you will with one in USA Today. You are reaching about two million more people with USA Today. But most are not qualified prospects. An even for the ones that are, you are fighting for their attentions with hundreds of other ads. The most lucrative marketing scenario is always working with a tightly targeted niche.
This principle works in Twitterville as well. If you sell commemorative stamps, you’ll do much better being followed by a few hundred or few thousand real stamp collectors than simply trying to follow thousands of random people hoping some will follow you back.
And you can find the people you’re looking for with Twitter.Search.com. Enter in keywords relative to your niche there, and it will display tweets from people on that exact topic. Then you can follow and engage with those people.
The Twitter Snob Controversy…
Now before we go, we may as well deal with an issue that keeps coming up: the “Twitter Snob” controversy. There is a school of thought that you should follow everyone that follows you, and I have been called a Twitter snob many times because I don’t do that. Guilty as charged.
But if you are an author, speaker, celeb or other very visible person, this just isn’t practical. And it doesn’t have anything to do with me being a snob or arrogant. (Not that I’m denying being either.)
I’m adding 300 or 400 followers a day, and a lot of times I just don’t have time to click through and check out each person’s page. If I follow all those people, I would need a staff of ten just to screen through the tweets. And the truth is, in a lot of cases, it doesn’t make any sense for them or me.
Some of those profiles deal exclusively with college scholarships (which I don’t need, since I’m a HS dropout and rich), Christmas decorations (which I don’t do, since I’m such a bitter, demented person), and a shocking number are devoted exclusively to coffee (which I don’t drink). There are profiles devoted to soap operas, motherhood, and printed in languages I can’t even read. And that’s not even taking into account the vacuous twits, MLM morons, or other terminally boring people we’ve already mentioned.
Now I’m on TweetDeck and I could easily follow everyone following me, and lead those woeful souls to think I’m reading their tweets, even though I’m filtering them out. But I’d rather just be honest about it. You have to make your own call.
Now for some of you, following everyone that follows you may make sense. If the numbers aren’t too daunting, you’re looking to meet lots more people, or you’re trying to assuage feelings of insecurity by amassing lots of online friends, go for it. For the sake of this post, I’m just dealing with the issue of the best marketing practices.
Now it doesn’t “cost” you anything to follow people and there’s no doubt that some will follow you, just because you follow them. And there are many on Twitter that just follow hundreds of people a day, figuring a good percentage will automatically follow them back.
If you build a huge follower base and start tweeting about anything and everything, you’ll get ReTweeted more often and that will get your page out there and you’ll pick up yet more followers. So I’m not saying it doesn’t work. It does to some degree. But you will always get better results if the people following you are actually interested in your area of expertise.
If you want to just follow people because a lot will follow you back, knock yourself out. But please don’t delude yourself into believing that following 1,500 random people a day to see who follows you back makes you a social media expert. That dog don’t hunt.
I’m an old school direct marketer that still believes it’s all about the list. And I would always opt for a tightly targeted niche that I can reach easily, with information that makes sense for them. And having a smaller list does allow me to actually read and interact with my followers in a meaningful way for both of us. Give it a shot!
Also check out the “Ultimate Twitter Resource” at http://prevential.com/twitter-tips/ There’s enough good stuff there to keep you hunkered over your computer getting repetitive strain injuries for weeks.
Okay kids, that’s all for now. Happy Twittering, and Peace out, Cub Scout.
P.S. And if you’re not following me on Twitter, what are you, a Godless Communist vampire or something? Do it now. I need the money. https://twitter.com/Randy_Gage