Twitter: Is Marketing Doing it Wrong?

Marketers love Twitter these days for a list of reasons including using it converse with customers and influencers, sharing content and driving traffic to websites.  There has been so much talk about Twitter in Marketing circles, you would think that everyone would have it figured out by now.  I’m not claiming to be a Twitter expert but I have been a fairly heavy user for the past couple of years and here are a few things I see folks doing that I believe are just wrong:

1/ Focusing on followers instead of engagement – Social Media folks have been saying “it’s about the conversation” over and over for years now but this is still a stumbling block for a large number of marketers.  There are plenty of tools out there that for a fee, will follow people based on keywords, unfollow those that don’t return the favor and follow some more until you have thousands of followers.  That’s great, right?  It is if your only goal is to try to impress people (who know nothing about Twitter) with the number of followers you have.  If your goal however is to drive some awareness or action, 15,000 followers could well be the same as 100 if none of your 15,000 ever talks to you or shares your stuff.  There are some interesting tools coming to market to judge how “influential” a Twitter user actually is.  Klout seems to be the most sophisticated out there, creating a score that takes into account how often people respond to you or share things you’ve posted and how influential those people are.  Topsy (the folks that power the retweet button on this blog) is also measuring how influential folks are by tracking how often they are cited in other people’s Tweets.  People should stop bragging about the number of followers they have – it’s easy to buy followers therefore the number is meaningless.

2/ Broadcasting instead of interacting – I’m not saying you can’t share your own stuff on Twitter, you can.  I never post a blog post without Tweeting about it a couple of times because frankly, if I cared enough to spend the time writing it down, I generally care enough to share it.  Where this doesn’t work however, is when that’s ALL you are doing.  It becomes like advertising, and by that I mean boring and really easy to ignore.  Yeah, I get that this works for Mashable but chances are, you and your company are nothing like Mashable.  You are going to have to do a whole lot more listening and talking to be taken seriously within a community and that means interacting and being helpful instead of just pitching and selling.

3/ Ignoring people that are trying to talk to you – Sure you might get away with this if you are Ashton but what amazes me is when regular old tech folks, or worse, people representing companies ignore people.  I’ve had this happen to me more than a few times and every time it does, I’m perplexed and annoyed.  Why don’t they want to talk to people?  Do they think we won’t notice that we are being ignored and be mad about that?  I can see missing a few messages (it happens to me) but I’ve seen many users that only interact with a small group and pretend the rest of us don’t exist. I do exist.  I exist and not only will I unfollow you, I will mock you and your lousy social skills over drinks for the next 6 months.  If you’re Ashton, that might not matter.  If you are a regular person like the rest of us, (even a somewhat well-known one) it might not kill your brand but at a minimum you are missing out on an opportunity to expand your community.

Hey, you made it all the way to the end! You should subscribe!  You can sign up for emailupdates, subscribe via RSS or follow me on Twitter.

96 thoughts on “Twitter: Is Marketing Doing it Wrong?”

    1. Hi Ari,
      LOL – I’d be the last person to say I’m right all the time!
      There’s a reason there is a question mark in the title of this post – make up your own mind about what’s right and do it that way.
      Thanks
      April

  1. Hey April

    Your blog covers what I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. Number 2 is especially true of a lot of people on Twitter – then number 3 is the worst! If someone representing a company isn’t going to reply to @’s then they may as well not be on Twitter! Man, it drives me mad, isn’t that the whole point? You don’t go to networking and just talk with a megaphone so why do it online!

    Just yesterday a journalist was looking for an Italian football fan living in Wales, I messaged her saying I had a contact if she wanted it, then the next day she carried on Tweeting looking for an Italian football fan. Then I messaged her again (mistakes can happen) and she didn’t reply. Definately going to unfollow! Feels good to get that out there (!)

    1. Hi Arek,
      Thanks for the comment. I don’t understand why people ignore it when folks are trying to talk to them on Twitter but it happens to me all the time. It’s happened to me twice with a person who also blogs and I’ve promoted his blog both here and on Twitter. After a while, it’s hard to stay enthusiastic about a person or a company that doesn’t care enough about you to acknowledge you exist.
      April

  2. It’s amazing to me that there are people NOT doing these things correctly. They are kind of “well, duh” to me. I think the same people who use Twitter wrong are the ones who don’t know what customer service is and, as a result, do it wrong, too.

    Come on folks! Get with the program. 🙂

    1. Hi Jodi,
      Thanks for the comment. I’m like you, I’m stunned at the number of new followers I have that have thousands of followers and yet never talk to anyone and only Tweet links to their own site. It’s crazy but there are just LOADS of them out there….
      April

    1. Hi April,

      I hope I’m not wrong in concluding your post that the whole point is to talk to your followers.

      I first joined Twitter simply to keep up with what’s going on but have since experienced the way it should be done – from the point of view of a customer.

      I have a question answered by this local TV station, which followed me soon afterward and continued to engage me (who followed back, naturally) and its other followers with interesting questions & information.

      No surprise, the TV station is now my ‘home station’.

      1. HI Shirley,
        Absolutely not, but at the same time if you never talk to anyone you won’t be answering questions or engaging. You can talk to people without being helpful (I don’t see the point of that either) but it’s impossible to be helpful without talking to people.
        Thanks for the comment!
        April

  3. Hi April,

    A great read with some excellent points on how to tweet properly.

    I’ve found that the perfect blend of interaction and marketing has worked for me. I am not afraid to aggressively promote my content, nor aggressively promote the content of my piers while chatting up tweeters. I also say Thank You to each person who RTs my stuff and I am attempt to engage with each person.

    As for #3 – try not to take it personally and try not to hold a grudge. You never know what’s going through that person’s mind, and holding a grudge only makes the situation worse for you, at least from my social networking experience. We are all as important as Ashton or any human being on earth so I would not look at him or any other person in a different light 😉

    Thanks for sharing your valuable insight April! Enjoy the day 🙂

    Ryan

    1. Hi Ryan,
      Thanks for the comment. I agree with you that there’s no problem with promoting your stuff on Twitter, as long as that isn’t ALL you do.
      As for #3 I don’t think it’s so much about holding a grudge as it is about folks choosing who they want to follow. I’m not as interested in following folks that only want to talk AT me rather than have a conversation with me. It doesn’t mean I dislike them personally, it just means I don’t find them interesting people to follow on Twitter.
      Thanks!
      April

  4. Hv been using tweeter for long time but was not sure for certain things on tweeter and was not making most of it .but we all know that followers always matters when you are in tweeter business 🙂

  5. Hi April,

    I’m a new reader of your blog, and I thought this was a great post. You’ve nailed most of it, but I was wondering if you have any thoughts about automation (auto-DMs, auto-@s, auto-followbacks, etc.)

    – Ricky

    1. HI Ricky,
      Thanks for the comment. I don’t have any problem with auto-followbacks. Some people want to make sure they follow everyone back and that’s fine. I personally don’t do it because I get a lot of accounts that follow me that only tweet spam and I try to keep that to a minimum in my stream. I’m fairly negative about auto DM’s. I know they aren’t coming from a person so I generally just delete them. I NEVER click through on this links for fear of a virus. I don’t find them useful in any way so I wish people would stop doing it.
      Auto @’s are spam – pure and simple. People should never do that.
      Thanks again,
      April

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.