Posts Tagged ‘Twitter’

Can’t buy me love: Twitter adding services and PR ethics

It seems like every time I get on Twitter, I am bombarded with messages from sketchy “tweeps” inviting me to “gain 5,000 followers immediately!” by signing up for their services. I usually brush them off as spam, assuming such a service will give me some sort of horrible virus that will cause me weeks of headaches and a call or two to Geek Rescue.

Besides, even if the companies aren’t truly spam, I thought, isn’t buying followers still unethical? Social media is about engaging with real people, forming mutually beneficial relationships, and letting your connections grow organically through valuable conversation.

A few weeks ago, a client asked me to sign him up for one of these services.

His goal was not to immediately grow real, valuable followers, but to:
A) Appear more established at the first glance of a new potential follower – making them more likely to follow him, thus gaining more real, valuable followers, and

B) Increase the limit of friends Twitter allowed him to have so that he could add more real, valuable friends without being penalized – and hopefully, many of them would follow him back as well.

These seemed like reasonable expectations to me, so, still slightly apprehensive, I agreed. The client and I both felt that, at the very least, it would be a good learning opportunity.

After some research, I found there are basically two ways that these services work:

1. Mass following services (such as http://www.tweetadder.com/) follow a large number of users and let them follow your profile back. After a few days, they go back and automatically unfollow the people who have not followed you back. It has many bells and whistles but I’m fairly certain that Twitter penalizes users of these services.

2. Buying services (such as http://www.buy-followers.org/) that seem to have access to profiles of people who have opted into some sort of program. The cost is much higher per follower, but, supposedly, there are no “bots” involved. Some of

these services claim to bring in quality leads – users who have said they are interested in particular topics (so, hypothetically, if you’re a sales coach, and someone says they are interested in sales or business, you’re more likely to get that person.)

I chose a service like option number two and I have to say – although they turned out not to be “quality leads,” and some of their profiles are a little sketchy, (They might have a male Twitter name like @ChiTownDave and a profile that says “My name is Anna, I’m a nanny in the Dallas/FTW area!”) the client’s goals have been met.

What do you think? Is buying followers unethical PR practice, or a smart step toward reaching out to real, quality connections?

Advertisements

Putting the “face” back in Facebook

(You can also access this post on the  Consumer Pulse Marketing blog.)

Have you seen that Toyota Venza commerical – you know – the one where the girl is worried about her parents’ social lives because of their lack of Facebook friends, when in reality they are out living life to the fullest?

As funny as it is, Toyota is pointing out a very common problem with social media.

Social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter are about sharing information and creating or maintaining relationships. In order to use a platform to it’s potential, you must remember that real, face-to-face interaction is key to developing those relationships.

The same is true for businesses. It doesn’t matter if you have a million followers if they are never going to come to your store – but if you connect with the right target audience, get to know who they are, where they are and what they value, and continue to develop your relationship with them, they are likely to seek you out when they need what you have to offer.

I encourage you to utilize your accounts in a way where you are getting as much as you can out of them. How can you do this?

1. Get involved. You know those pesky Facebook Events that are probably dominating your page? Go through them and ask yourself if maybe this event could produce some valuable connections for you, or help you reconnect with key people – because you are your brand.

2. Don’t sell, but be a friend and resource.  Many businesses join social media networks with no real plan, and simply use their accounts as a platform for promoting their goods or themselves. This is not social media. This is advertising. Would you walk into a picnic and start peddling your merchandise or bragging to your neighbors? And if you did, would they want to be your friend?

3. Help out. Would you like to get more involved with a group or partner with another organization? See what their needs are, and if there is anything you can do to help. Share their blog posts. Retweet their messages. Donate to their causes. Chances are, they will return the favor.

4. Be approachable. Make it easy for people  to reach you. Include your email, blog, website, Twitter name and Facebook profile on all your sites. Respond to those who reach out to you. In today’s world of technology, a living, breathing, interacting connection is a rare (and much appreciated) thing.

Social media is about building relationships – not staring at a computer screen or messing around on your smartphone all day – but getting in the loop and staying there. Going out and taking part in your community.

Is social media going to get you there all on its own? Probably not. But when utilized correctly, it can certainly help.

Tinker.com: Friend or Foe?

Today, I read an article in AdAge.com about Tinker.com, discussing its ability to offer a system that automatically finds only positive comments on Twitter about a particular brand and filters out all negative and profane comments, as well as any comments mentioning a competitor. A brand could use this tool to its advantage to display all the great things people are saying about it on Twitter. But is this fair?

Here, I’m conflicted. For that segment of the brand’s target audience that does not understand “social media” or the reason Twitter is becoming such a big deal, I think it’s a great idea. It’s a way to share word-of-mouth advertising with these customers without revealing anything you don’t want them to know or see.

To those audience members who understand that the greatness of Twitter lies in its ability to show what everyone is saying- not just the good stuff- its an abomination, and an exploitation of a tool that is meant to provide a true marketplace of ideas. The people who understand that transparency is key and will accept nothing less will probably not be a fan of brands using Tinker’s tool.

I guess I would have to know more about how the tool works to really form a strong opinion, although I am biased toward the latter. Will the filtered comments appear on the company’s Web site as a Twitterfeed? Will it take effect when anyone searches for the brand on Twitter?

I will at least remain wary of this tool and I think others should, too.

What do you think?