The Social Marketing Game

On January 31, 2012, in Articles of Awesomeness, Minimalism, by Emily

Social Marketing is a game. It’s your goal to get followers, targeted leads, and eventually sales as a result of your actions. That’s why the marketing folks spend hours upon hours strutting their virtual stuff, attempting to attract viewers and readers. I love the game, even though I suck at it.

The platform that I use is Twitter, one of the world’s most used and beloved social media platforms. I loved the concept that you have 140 characters to do or say anything that you want, with the goal to entice readers back to your homepage. There’s a strange dynamic between following and followers which must be understood, as well as many other parts which must be juggled.

There are two philosophies about Twitter followers:

Follow everyone you can
Follow everybody that even remotely comes upon your Twitter radar. If you’re in the furniture business, start following people who are in the wood business. If you’re in the SEO game, follow everyone under the sun in the hopes that you might gain a few sales. Spend time each day cultivating and boosting this following, with very little real interaction. If they follow you, follow back, no questions asked.

Follow those you read
Follow only those with whom you have a personal connection. If you read their stuff and you recognize their name on site, then follow them. If you enjoy their business, then follow them. Don’t particularly seek out more people to follow, unless you can recognize them. Don’t immediately follow back. Instead, make judgement calls about the folks that you will follow, under the assumption that you will actually READ the feed of the people that you’re pubicly paying attention to.

I was first one, then the other

When I was first starting the Twitter game, I subscribed to the first philosophy. I would follow everyone who followed me, thanking the readers profusely for following me. I didn’t have much interaction with the folks with whom I was talking. I just blindly followed. I got my following count past 1100 through this method.

And then something changed

I realized that I wasn’t having the opportunity to really talk with anyone on the feed and that there was quite a lot of noise. I was getting information about SEO and backlinks. I was getting thousands upon thousands of useless retweets which had nothing to do with me. I was getting aggravated because I feel that if there’s a toy, it must be used to its fullest. Twitter’s one of the toys for the game, as you know.

I read Ev Bogue’s Minimalist Business, and some of the strategies made sense for the business that I was thinking about forming. He suggests that you follow only those from whom you get value. This gave me an excuse to get rid of around 90% of the people that I was following under the first philosophy. I literally went from 1000 following to 100 following overnight. Losing the 0 was refreshing and liberating.

Why not lists?

Lists can be used to qualify and quantify the people who you’re following. You can set up several lists – one for this facet of your life, one for that facet. I believe that you should take your life as a whole, rather than the sum of its parts. I think that I’m able to figure out who’s who all on my own, without the need to separate them into lists. I believe that reducing the list removes a lot of the clutter, which means that I can have more solid interactions with people.

What happened?

My following list plummeted. I did this on Friday near the end of the day. At the time, my follower count was 1167. It’s early Monday morning, and my follower count is at 994. I’m thoroughly expecting that it will drop like a stone since everyone who plays the social media game is back in the office. Chances are, my name will have a giant red frowny face beside it, and I’ll be ditched from a following list as a result. That doesn’t particularly bother me, because it reveals a lot about human nature.

As humans, we CRAVE interaction. it’s hardwired into our DNA. We thrive upon it, we need it. We need it, but we don’t want to put the time into actually doing the work to make our interactions stand out with others. There are all types of programs out there to increase your backlinks, and increase your following, and spam your fellow tweeters and more. Not one of those programs truly addresses the fact that we crave real, genuine conversation taht can really only be conducted by a human.

People want to be followed, not just for the business reasons, but for social pride reasons as well. I read very little of my Twitter stream, and I’m sure that there’s those out there who follow theirs even less. The question that I ask is, ‘why not take full advantage?’

Are YOU taking full advantage of Twitter and your leagues of supporters? Comment below.

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