Who to Follow on Twitter for Business (Even if They Don’t Follow You Back)
Happy Valentines Week – hope you and the ones you love most had a great day. What I enjoyed, second only to my time with my beautiful wife and daughters, was being asked to write a Valentines song for MarketingPros PRO. It was a hoot, at least for me (OK, I got some good comments, too).
Writing a love song from the Profs to their peeps got me to wondering, though – what about the flip side of Valentine’s Day, the unrequited love? It seems an especially important question for the Twitter-centric, given the lust after famous (or at least well-followed) members of the Twitter elite.
Twitter Isn’t Exactly Like Middle School – But It Can Come Close
As a relative newbie (less than a year) on Twitter, I admit some frustration at not getting all The Notable Ones to take note of me. I’m rather late to the game, so it’s a bit like when I changed schools in middle of, shudder, middle school. I was so desperate to make friends and break into well-established social circles that I started buying gum and handing it out before school. I felt a bit the same when I first joined Twitter and caught myself gratuitously mentioning, retweeting, etcetera.
Hey, Some of the Popular Kids Like Me – Why Don’t You?
I will admit to getting excited by my assumed “validation” of being followed by social and content leaders on Twitter. OK, so they’re sharing their love with tens of thousands of others – it’s ME they really lust after, right? And then I get to thinking, “Hey, if the likes of Jay Baer, Liz Strauss and Glen Gilmore can follow me, why can’t you, Mr. or Ms. Bigshot?” I also read the occasional post from the well-followed as to the boorish, clueless behavior of those desperately seeking social attention. I hear some go so far at to serenade their inamorta or inamorato outside of virtual windows…
I Want to Be The Taylor Swift of Twitter for Business
At first I thought I might go all Taylor Swifton the unreachable – you know, how every time some guy breaks her heart she writes a song to get even? But rather than being immature and trying to musically shame people into following me, I thought that my Unrequited Twitter Love song should give a shout out to some of the notables on my followers list.
Not all mentioned today are in five or six digits when it comes to followers… but all are admirable, aspirational models of what it means to share, connect and provoke thought on Twitter. Their other common thread is that I have been introduced to many by some of my unofficial Twitter and social media mentors, particularly Mark Schaefer and Gini Dietrich, through whom I’ve discovered Amy Howell,Sean McGinnisand Ian Cleary from today’s song.
So sit back, grab a beer and get ready to cry in it, ‘cause it’s time for The Unrequited Twitter Love Song!
Forget #FF – try the musical tribute to the people sharing the really good stuff on Twitter
Happy almost Chinese New Year to all! Of course, if you’re in China, it’s already the New Year – I got a call from my friend Huaai in Nanning this morning, which set me off on a round of CNY greetings, but put me behind a bit on today’s post. So, let’s finally get to it. This week I’m singing the praises of:
@michaelgass If you’re in the ad agency business, you probably already know of Michael and his new business blog Fuellines. Of course, if you’re in the ad agency business, you’re less likely to be using social media, and Michael is a leading force in getting agency folks to see the social light. He’s also an inspiration as a blogger. I particularly like his powerfully simple approach to keywords in headlines. Look at most of his posts and you’ll see some “ad agency new business” in the head. Then google “ad agency new business.” Guess who pops up at the top? Like me, he’s also a Dad with daughters, and he joined in briefly at the #adwomensb13 Super Bowl chat this week, started by @katgordon (see below).
@agencysevenis a pretty impressive content agency out of London. At least, the judges at the International Content Marketing Awards thought so when they awarded them their most recent Grand Prix prize. I’m actually not a big awards show fan, but perhaps content marketing awards will be more reflective of marketplace effectiveness than are the traditional advertising self-love fests. In any case, Seven caught my eye this week with a tweet on the “oddly downbeat view” of content in the U.S., as reflected in anAd Age article. I think that’s likely more true for the traditional Ad Age audience than for all U.S. marketers – any thoughts out there?
@katgordon First, my apologies if I am wrong in singing her name as “Kate.” Secondly, thanks to Kat for hosting #adwomensb2013, a Super Bowl Twitter chat that invited female ad creative to live tweet about the ads during the big game. As a Dad of daughters, I’ve been following an organization she founded – the 3 Percent Conference– which works to raise the profile of and prospects for female creative directors in the still-male dominated ad biz. It’s a subject close to my heart as I have a talented 16-year-old daughter who’s just now looking at colleges of art and design, and I am hopeful that advertising (or what’s left of it by the time she graduates) will be a more welcoming option for her than it has sometimes been for women to date. (You’ll find @3percentconf featured in an earlier #SocialSong Saturday.)
@gricke Gary Ricke is a creatively visionary digital communicator who is currently pouring heart and soul (and other considerable resources) into a strikingly simple and beautiful CMS called seed. I encourage you to follow him and follow seed’s development, as the whole point is to provide marketers with a platform so simple that, as Gary likes to put it, they can spend 99% of their time and money on creating amazing content and 1% on building and maintain their website. It’s a terrific, mobile-first design; follow Gary to watch how it develops (or better yet give him a shout so you can be among the first to use it).
Thanks for stopping by – and Happy Chinese New Year to all! See you next week.
Top Blogs, Top Social Media Dogs Get the Twitter Love Song Treatment
Welcome to the eighth edition of SocialSong, the more meaningful musical alternative to Facile Friday, er, Follow Friday, and a good place to learn who to follow on Twitter for business (especially if you want to learn about social media and content marketing).
This week the Twitter Love Song goes out to:
@ckburgess OK, so I’m not exactly discovering an unknown here, but I am encouraging you, along with me, to pay closer attention to just how Cheryl Burgess blogs. MarketingSherpa named her’s the best Social Media blog of 2012. I generally don’t care for marketing awards, because I come out of traditional advertising, where the awards are plentiful and almost uniformly unrelated to results. But I admit this one got me to take notice, both of her clear, practical posts. and her incredibly long list of other awards. Color me jealous, but also appreciative.
@stellar247 I have this odd, almost emotional attachment to Kelly Mirabella. I started listening to her podcast Mastering Social Businesswhen I was making weekly three hour round trips to visit my elderly mom. Kelly’s fun, upbeat, easy-to-understand banter with co-host Paul Serwin was welcome both as early education and a relief from the heaviness of those sandwich-generation days. Since my mom’s been gone, I’m not on the road as much, so I listen less… but I can heartily recommend the show, and I enjoy following Kelly on Twitter.
@nickwestergard Face it; I just like people from Iowa (I was born there). I find them to be reasonable, helpful and smart, without an I’m-so-much-smarter-than-you edge. That’s how Nick Westergard strikes me. He’s a professor-digital-marketing-maven-podcaster in the Iowa City area, and he caught me with his post “Writing is Selling: Why Content Creation is Worth the Time,” a straightforward pitch for the bottom line benefit of all this word wrangling. Send it to those recalcitrant clients.
@brennermichael Michael Brenner would be even more well known to all if he simply put his name at the end of every B2Community post (he co-founded the community). He’s also a big-time marketer (SAP), blogger (B2BMKTGInsider) and, from the looks of his Twitter background pic, a devoted Dad (I’m always a sucker for a kindred spirit in that department). He’s at a level where people pay attention when he publishes a list, like his tally of top B2B influencers (companies and individuals).
@marketingprofs The ubiquitous Ann Handley finally got me to cough up some dough and go PRO with Marketing Profs. It’s actually all the fault of that damn @jasonkonopinski, who tweeted about his dependence on it for his own continuing education. Jason-wannabe that I am, I obviously had not choice but to sign up. It still remains to be seen if I will routinely schedule the requisite learning time to make my investment worthwhile, or if MarketingProfs will (through on fault of its own) be simply my latest social media gym membership… intended to get me in shape, but ultimately wasted.
@smcknox If I understand correctly, Social Media Club of Knoxville is the hosting organization, along with Mark Schaefer, ofSocial Slam, an annual, up-close-and-personal social media conferencein Knoxville, Tennessee. I will be a first-time attendee this year, and am eager to rub SM elbows (ooh, sorry.. that sounds a trifle untoward, doesn’t it?) with many of the folks I follow on Twitter.
@shellykramer Shelly Kramer is an influential blogger based on, of course, her content. But here’s my superficial confession: I just like her profile picture. Somehow, it exudes that combination of friendliness and seriousness that a) make me want to trust her and b) fancy that she could be a professional friend. Or maybe she’s a jerk… but I doubt it. She consistently tweets, and blogs, about interesting things of value. What more can I ask? The latest example that captured my attention: “What CEOs Think of Social Media”
Use Twitter more creatively – join in with #SocialSong Saturday and send in your own Twitter Love Song
Cold season is not cooperating with #SocialSong Saturday – I simply couldn’t sing this week, and still can’t. Oh, I tried, I wrote this week’s song, recorded it… and then listened. I’ll spare you the regrettable result.
Instead, I’d like to follow-up on last week’s invitation to join in on #SocialSong Saturday by sending in your own sing-along video. All you have to do is
1. Put your headphones
2. Play the #SocialSong Saturday no. 6 video (it’ll help if everybody uses the same one)
3. Video yourself as you sing-along to the chorus
4. Upload your video to Dropbox, Usendit, etc. and send me the link as to where I can find it: here’s my email address(but please do not email clips)
The sing-along idea came from @TPLDrew, also known as Andrew Davis, author of Brandscaping, who was kind enough to send in a video to demonstrate how its done. Thanks Andrew! By the way, I’m saving the really good bits for when we’re got a few more intrepid souls to edit in.
Hopefully this sore throat will abate and I’ll sound less like a bad imitation of the old disco king Barry White when it comes time to record next week’s song. (Of course, you could save me that worry by sending in you sing-along video.)
#FF is So Yesterday – #SocialSong Saturday helps you find people who know how to do business (and have fun) on Twitter
This Twitter Love song includes an invitation to sing along and possibly appear in an upcoming edition of #SocialSong Saturday – details are at the end of this post. First, however, I’d like to sing the praises of:
@brandingmagBranding Magazine is the brainchild of some very bright ,young next-gen thinkers in Europe. It features daily stories from contributing authors (yes, such as yours truly) from across Europe and North America. My favorite personal contribution to date is the article “2013: The Year Branding Marries Content?”
@steveolenskiSteve Olenski is a prolific social media and marketing writer, not onlyfor his own blog but also for the likes of Forbes.com and Advertising Age. He caught my eye this week with his Branding Magazine article on the use of music in advertising – specifically, how Walgreens is putting Credence Clearwater Revival’s old hit “Down on the Corner” to use in their campaign “At the corner of happy and healthy.” Anybody who appreciates the power of music is all right by me.
@leaderswest In a social media world that often swings between gung-ho, shiny-object booster-ism and sensationalistic doom-saying, Jim Dougherty strikes me as a reasonable and well-reasoned voice. This week’s example: “Should people quit social media altogether?” I look forward to following Jim more closely.
@contentSTHLM One aspect of Twitter that I appreciate is the ability to get acquainted with business people from around the world. Well, I almost get acquainted – in the case of contentSTHLM, the Twitter profile only reveals that he (if one believes the cartoon profile picture) is a content and brand strategist from Stockholm… and a Phillies fan. That would be off-putting, save for the consistently interesting and sometimes amusing content he shares, such as The Diary of a Content Strategist.
@KMueller62 If you’re interested in learning about social media and inbound marketing, there are any number of reasons to follow Ken Mueller, as many more notable than I already do. My favorite reason to date: the Weekend Music game, just introduced yesterday. It’s sort of like being in the Social Media Dorm and hanging out on a Friday afternoon, telling each other about the top five tunes or artists on your playlist. Stop on by… you can still play. (BTW, he makes a big deal about working on a porch… well Ken, I’ll see your porch and raise you a Canine Copywriter.)
Global HQ for Creative on Call, Summer Office, with Dexter the Canine Copywriter
@tompick I have been technically following Tom Pick for a while, but it wasn’t until this week – when I decided to see who one of my favorite bloggers closely follows – that I started to delve into Tom more thoroughly. One early favorite gem told me just how wrong all of my writing is: “17 Tragically Common Copywriting Mistakes to Avoid.” Thanks, J-P De Clerck, for letting me rummage through your Chat & Watch List and rediscover Tom.
@fietstweets Dan Fietsam is Chief Creative Officer of EnergyBBDO, and the only person mentioned today who I have had the pleasure to meet and work with in person (how quaint, I know). While these days Twitter seems mostly used for the over-sharing of others content, Dan uses it sparingly as an actual microblogging platform, a blog I guess you would call #todaysmilliondollaridea. As a guy who makes his living creating or inspiring others to create “the big idea,” he uses this hashtag to share ideas that, on any given day, may be absurd, insightful, funny… or which may fall flat, depending on that eye-of-the-beholder thing (hey, if you’re going to shoot for the big idea, you can’t worry about missing once in a while). Refreshingly simple… as I think Twitter was meant to be. Stop by and pick up your million bucks.
Now about that big idea that Andrew Davis, @TPLDrew, suggested…
Andrew, author of Brandscaping: Unleashing the Power of Partnerships, observed that #SocialSong Saturday is its own example of Brandscaping, as with the Twitter Love Song I essentially partner with all of the personal/professional brands above. While interviewing me for an upcoming article, he suggested opening up #SocialSong Saturday for everyone to join in, so that’s what we’re going to try.
HOW TO JOIN IN #SOCIALSONG SATURDAY
Step 1: Plug in your headphones and play this week’s Twitter Love song
Step 2: Use your computer’s video camera to record yourself singing along to the chorus (VIDEO 101: please make sure you have enough light on your face… at the end of your singing, please tell me your name and Twitter handle, spelled out, just so we I get it correctly)
If I get enough video clips that work, we’ll edit them into a future #SocialSong. I can guarantee that you’ll be in good company, as Andrew has promised to participate.
Happy #SocialSong Saturday – the most fun you can having finding who to follow on Twitter!
Songwriting as content marketing and social engagement, or… installment three of the musical alternative to Follow Friday.
Welcome to the third installment of Social Song Saturday, the “Twitter Love Song.” The idea is simple: sometimes, a facile #FF just isn’t enough to recognize those who are tweeting, or retweeting, the really good stuff. This week you’ll get some great suggestions of who to follow on Twitter, including:
@mdchudahy There’s no one tweet in particular that caught my attention, it’s just that he has proven over time to consistently tweet interesting, worthwhile content (and yes, once in a while that includes mine).
@TheJackB I discovered him via @ginidietrich; he’s a dad, a blogger, a thinker, an open mind and heart (well, at least in writing he is); a couple of posts on his blog that mention his grandfather really got me. Also, in the aftermath of last week’s unthinkable tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School, he did some good thinking aloud, sharing how he talked to his kids
@dbvickery hosts#hecklershangout along with @margieclayman, through whom I discovered it. I’ve only made it to one (a hoot of an informative affair), and I missed this week’s edition. The guest and topic list is eclectic – this week the discussion was on financial advice for college with @jodiokun (I have a high school junior, so I MUST review the video). Next up: @jasonkonopinski, who appeared in the first Twitter Love song. I will do my best to be there!
@seigelgale is the branding agency with simplicity as its long-time mission and The Global Brand Simplicity Index as its content cudgel, which it uses to beat us all into simplicity submission (just jealously kidding about that last part). The Index is a great annual study tracking the brands that best get down to the basics. It even assesses the bottom line shareholder value of those anti-complexity efforts via the Simplicity Portfolio, which the study encompasses. I mine it repeatedly for support of my wild assertions, but am remiss in posting anything about the latest edition, which came out earlier this month. Be on the lookout for that, please.
@crestodina runs Orbit Media in Chicago (@orbiteers), and was generous enough to publicly share his agency’s marketing plan. Andy is definitely worth following, if only for the fact that Orbit Media also hosts Wine and Web, a monthly chance to get social in person while learning from an interview-style presentation with a variety of web design, digital marketing and social/content leaders.
Who do you passionately follow on Twitter? Reveal the reasons for your social crush and who knows – they might turn up in the Twitter Love Song!
The Tao of Twitter: Changing Your Life and Business 140 Characters at a Timeis a clear, useful Twitter how-to manual, and I can see why it and its author, Mark Schaefer, have garnered so much praise. What I don’t understand is why so many of the overwhelmingly positive reviews feel the need to almost apologetically qualify this as a beginner’s book. That’s exactly what it is, and exactly what people like me and most of my clients need: a book that will get us to begin using Twitter and start appreciating what Schaefer refers to as the “… diversity, usefulness, profitability, power and fun of Twitter.” [pg 5]
Rather than repeat what others have already said well, I will link below to a few of the aforementioned reviews. For my review, I will simply share some highlights, in the form of Tweets, of what struck me most in reading The Tao, and why I plan to keep it at my side as an ongoing reference. (And yes, I will be tweeting each of these, so I am showing the entire tweet, including links.)
Reviewing The Tao of Twitter in just 10 Tweets
Twitter isn’t exposition, its discovery: a “majestic random synergy” @markwschaefer http://bit.ly/QFhbS1 pg5
Targeted connections + Meaningful content + Authentic helpfulness = Tao of Twitter @markwschaefer http://bit.ly/QFhbS1 pg15
“Connections lead to awareness. Awareness leads to trust. Trust is the ultimate catalyst” @markwschaefer http://bit.ly/QFhbS1 pg20
You can effectively use Twitter to “pre-populate the business relationship” @markwschaefer http://bit.ly/QFhbS1 pg20
Set up your Twitter profile carefully. “No picture = no followers.” @markwschaefer http://bit.ly/QFhbS1 pg37
On Twitter “The catalyst… for every connection… is content” @markwschaefer http://bit.ly/QFhbS1 pg51
For Twitter success “spend a little more time on the Mighty Mighty Retweet” @markwschaefer http://bit.ly/QFhbS1 pg56
“The study showed that Tweet quality is much more important that quantity.” @markwschaefer http://bit.ly/QFhbS1 pg76
OK, I’ve another bit of Altimeter research to recommend: “The Rise of Digital Influence.” As with many studies on social media, content marketing and other areas of the still developing digital world, this one raises as many important questions as it answers. It does a good overview job of answering the question “What is digital influence, and how can my brand take advantage of it?” It completely begs the issue of “When will ‘sparking desired effects’ among the influential digerati slip over into anti-social, trust-damaging marketing manipulation?”
WHAT IS DIGITAL INFLUENCE, AND HOW CAN BRANDS LEVERAGE IT?
Let’s back up to the first half of that question. The report helpfully tries to level up the notion of digital influence from one of mere electronic word of mouth – with influencers being those having the most “mouths” follow and repeat what they say – to a more nuanced understanding of digital influence, which the report alliterates as being comprised of
USING DIGITAL INFLUENCE VERSUS PEDDLING IT
The report goes on to talk about how “businesses can shape and steer positive conversations and… desired outcomes,” and offers case histories wherein companies offered often very expensive “incentives” to influencers in exchange for tacit help engaging their followers to help achieve those “desired outcomes.” It also mentions that “… the brand borrows the social capital of the individual to appear approachable and desirable to their followers.”
This brings me to the real issue at hand: the difference between “borrowing” social capital and buying it. When your approach is to attract digital influencers via free phones, expensive trips and the like, the balance tips in the direction of “buying.”
PAYING FOR INFLUENCE BUILDS NO MORE TRUST IN MARKETING THAN IT DOES IN POLITICS
So what’s the harm? The potential harm is the same we see in the politics of pay-to-play states like the one I live in, or in the influence-peddling hallways of Congress: once consumers, like voters, wise up, long-term damage is done to the trust required to make relationships, or even entire systems, work.
HOW TO BUILD SOCIAL TRUST
While the report evinces some of the subtle arrogance that typifies any hot trend and its new masters (sample section heading: “The New Era of Consumer Influence: When Nobodies Become Somebodies), it also highlights (though not as much as I think it should) two keys to keeping consumer trust while paying to piggyback on the authority and relationships of others:
1. Provide real value to develop honest support from digital influencers
It’s a central tenant of all social and content marketing that’s it’s not all about your brand. As the report puts it “Rather than ask connected consumers to share random or purely promotional updates related to your business, provide them with ideas, content, links, or editorial suggestions…” In short, provide incentives that have a natural value to your target influencers (and their followers).
2. Be aggressively honest and open – transparency begets trust
It’s not enough to simply comply with the FTC Endorsement disclosure guidelines for blogs, social media, etcetera. Marketers would be wise to follow the lead of Virgin America, who, as mentioned in one of the Altimeter report case histories, assertively encouraged an honest, no-holds-barred response from the digital recruitees by announcing, “We do not want to ‘buy’ your tweets. You are receiving the product because you are influential and have authority on topics related to the product… You are welcome to tell the world you love the product, you hate the product, or say nothing at all.”
What are you doing to create relationships with digital influencers – and how are you doing it?
Brian Solis had an interesting post recently (OK, many of his posts are interesting), touching on a critical corporate turf issue in the use, or misuse, of social media: namely, who within an enterprise should be managing social engagement? He notes that the marketing department and/or its attendant agencies typically control social media… and in much the manner, it seems, that they’d handle any traditional media: send out the message as if not expecting a response, or not being accountable for responding to consumer input, good or bad.
SOCIAL MEDIA TURNS ANTI-SOCIAL WHEN THERE’S NO RESPONSE
This reveals itself as an even more significant issue than you might imagine when Solis goes on to cite an Altimeter Group study that shows, as above, the corporate departments most likely to be controlling social media are marketing or marketing communications, while the least likely is customer service. So much for customer-centricity as a brand-building orientation, especially when you consider other research, by Maritz and evolve24, which documents the fact that 64% of consumers tweeting to a company expect a their tweets to be read… but only 29% get a response.
THROW A PARTY AND THEN IGNORE THE GUESTS?
Social media is the big corporate marketing party these days, and it’s attracting a standing room only crowd. But building brand engagement, trust and loyalty through social media – or even preventing its destruction – requires being a good host. That means not only serving up the tweets, but replying in a meaningful way, too.
The rewards for doing so are significant. The Maritz/evolve24 study shows that while a paltry 29% receive a response when tweeting a beloved brand, such responses elicit what can only be assumed as a loyalty-inducing state: “32% and 51.5% said they either loved [the response] or liked it, respectively.”
IT’S NOT SUPPOSED TO BE SOCIAL ME-ME-MEDIA
Of course, it’s more than just a problem of organizational responsibility – it’s an issue of corporate mindset. An A.T. Kearney report from December 2011 illustrates how marketers too often still see social media as they do traditional media, simply another platform for one-way messaging rather than active dialogue. According to the study, related in a post by Melissa McNaughton, some 94% of brands on Facebook direct fans to pages that offer no opportunity to comment or initiate conversation. In short, they’ve turned an interactive medium into an inactive one, simply inviting consumers to “turn the page” as they would with a brochure.
IS YOUR BRAND TRULY SOCIAL?
What are your favorite examples of brands that are truly social – listening, posting, responding, and offering more than just promotional pap? How do they manage their process?
I typically like FastCompany.com, particularly for features like The 30 Second MBA. But a recent article by one of its writers leaves me wondering: Do brands, media or otherwise, think we are so trusting of them that we won’t really examine their content?
The article in question is “For Brands, Being Human is the New Black.” It reports, quite uncritically, on a recent presentation by a leading light at a leading design and innovation firm, IDEO in which a gathering of designers was told that “Today, brands are becoming more and more like humans. They’re taking on human traits.”
As the first of only a few online comments on the article itself notes, there’s nothing new here. Brands have long tried to exude qualities like “honesty, kindness and simply having a sense of humor,” and many have for years invested heavily in developing brand personalities, brand voices, and other human-like facets.
I’m not saying the observations are inaccurate, just not new or newsworthy. So why has this article become a Trending Topic on LinkedIn and received so much attention via Twitter? My surmise is that a) it’s not because of the content itself, but because of the widespread trust in the Fast Company and IDEO brands and b) that half of those Updates, Tweets and RTs came after reading only the headline and the source(s). I fear we are all so desperate to stay current in the social conversation that we swallow content whole without examining it – and sooner or later, that will turn trusted content into con-tent.