Its so easy to get caught up in “shoulds” especially with social media. I firmly believe that social is what you make it – the only rules of social media are conversation and participation.
UPDATE: One can extrapolate that there are rules of polite conversation and participation, social media accountability is one way of putting it. As Anne McCrossan commented, its about “‘blatant integrity’. The social web is a great opportunity for us to up our game about social behaviour. [link here]
So it bothers me when people try to tell others what to do – without any understanding of how social media works at either a social media marketing level or a personal relationship level. A friend who runs a very successful business was contacted via email recently as he’d been held up as a “How not to use twitter” case study at a marketing event.
The person who emailed said this:
I’m sitting in an Internet Marketing seminar in Sydney at the moment, and you and your business have just been presented as an example of what NOT to do online.
I’ll keep this short and do hope you get the point:
If you have people decide to follow you on Twitter from your [business] website, they are probably looking forward to receiving tips [on your business services]. Chances are pretty good they are not interested in hearing about football or “pregnant chicks at Ikea” or “hiding the sausage”.
Thought you would want to know you have just been held up to ridicule in front of some 300 people at this event. (The event is being repeated tomorrow in Sydney and twice this week in Melbourne.) Guess the good news is there’s 300 people who have heard of you and your business who probably didn’t know of you til now. Bad news is, it wasn’t a good news story.
Here’s a suggestion: Get a separate Twitter account for your business.
While the person who emails this may or may not have had good intentions, there are a bunch of reasons why they are just completely wrong and inappropriate in judging at all. I’ll start with their Twitter profile:
- The person who wrote the email lists themselves as “guru”. They’ve tweeted a total of 30 times. Their Mr Tweet statistics really show up how little they use the channel they are a so called expert on. Their Twitter stream is full of the same plug for their website – over and over. There is no conversation at all. No surprises that the “guru” has so few followers.
- There have been countless blog posts on the way Twitter is cutting down the barriers to creating conversation and injecting personality into faceless corporates. Yet this self-proclaimed “guru” is telling my friend not to have any personality at all, and not to be a conversationalist, be human, and crack jokes.
- The marketing presentation that held up my friend’s Twitter stream for ridicule also took the tweets completely out of context. They only showed one side of the conversation – they did not show what the @replies were replies to. And they did not clarify that @replies are only seen by those who also follow those who are being conversed with, that the tweets would never be seen by everyone.
- Its great how these professional speaker circuit type seem to forget, when it suits their argument, that twitter is an opt in social medium. So the people who follow my friend, are his clients and peers, and if they don’t like what they are presented with, its a very simple thing to unfollow him.
- In my friends business, he deals with and talks to people on a very personal level – for up to two hours at a time. If his clients don’t like him, same deal as Twitter – they don’t go back. In fact, Twitter allows for people to see who he is and the type of personality that he has and has done a lot to build his business since its inception. So his twitter account represents him and his business – faithfully. My friend, also believes in honesty in communication, rather than some corporate, bland sanitised push marketing message.
- My friend has picked up a lot of business by being himself on Twitter. He’s had blog posts written about his inimitable style and great busines. He’s picked up a lot of followers who love his fun attitude to life, his jokes and he’s become a real Twitter personality. That same personality has translated to genuine brand authenticity, both online and offline, and he’s built significant relationships using social media by being real. I could write a detailed post on how he’s used social media effectively to build a social brand and social business. In fact – using the same examples given by the emailer, I could write the exact opposite case study about how my friend – “How to use Twitter effectively to build a social brand”
- And to finish, I’d like to compare and contrast the “gurus” 30 tweets to my friends 10,000 plus tweets and my friends Mr Tweet statistics
I like to say there are no failures in social media – only failure to participate. And for all those so called “gurus” who say Twitter is not for marketing or not for being yourself or not for being honest, or not for being human – they are clearly wrong. Because there are millions of people on Twitter who are using it the way they want and making Twitter what they want it and need it to be.