A couple of months ago, a friend of mine, Jason Stoddard, told me that he was pulling together a conference here in Austin. Based on the description and the group of people he was pulling together (see below for list), I couldn’t help but agree to speak. To that end, I’ve been a bad partner in letting people that follow my blog know about the Ubiguity Marketing UnSummit.
The title of this post asks, “can you judge a book by its cover?” You can when the “cover” is the front page of someone’s Twitter account and you’re judging whether to follow them. That page contains an avatar image (usually the person’s photo), a short biography (no more than 160 characters long), a link to the person’s home page (or company, blog, LinkedIn profile, etc.), and — crucially — the most recent 20 tweets that the person has sent. You can click through to see more tweets in batches of 20, but if you follow many people on Twitter, doing that often takes more time than it’s worth.
And there’s the rub: if you want more people to follow you on Twitter, you have very little time to make a good first impression on them . . . but many ways that you could string landmines of the “Don’t Follow Me” variety across their path.
Recently four heavy Twitter users — Meg Fowler, Jim Storer, Aaron Strout, and Tim Walker — got to talking (on Twitter, of course) about the poisoned words, phrases, and other cues that automatically signal “Don’t Follow” for them. The end result was that the four decided to bang out a joint blog post that talked about best practices in not following based on not liking the proverbial “cover” put forth by fellow tweeters. Here’s what we came up with:
- “MLM” (multi-level marketing). I’m sure that somewhere, some nice person who does MLM could explain to me how it’s not a veiled Ponzi scheme. Until then . . . you’ll pardon me if I continue to think of it as “a veiled Ponzi scheme.” No thanks.
- Tweets that include “buy followers” or “hundreds of followers” or anything else in the “get lotsa followers!” genre. I try hard to earn new followers by being relevant, interesting, funny, and personable. The idea that you would buy yours in bulk — much less promote that process — disgusts me.
- Political ig’nance. I follow people of all political stripes, from all over the world. But if you have to wear your politics on your sleeve, and if your politics are of the knee-jerk type (again, regardless of your leanings), I just can’t stand to follow you.
- Calling yourself a “visionary” or “expert” or (shudder) “guru.” It’s much better to say you’re a “marketing veteran” or “experienced sales leader” or whatever. Let *others* call you a visionary.
- For me, it’s more about “who do I need to block around here?” Because no one likes to be spammed. So if I see any of this in your bio and/or first 20 tweets…
- Requests to “follow me back!”
- Promotion of affiliate programs
- Actual affiliate links as the link in your bio
- Any mention of followers (“I can get you followers!” “Get thousands of followers!” “5,000 followers and growing!” “This program will get you followers overnight!”)
- “Make money online (from home, easily, doing practically nothing, overnight, with my system, etc.)”
- Promises to “generate” anything: money, cash, followers, success, creeping rashes…
- Promotion of tooth whitening programs (Seriously?)
- A mention of your Twitter Grader Rank
- Mention of “Sponsored Tweets”
- Mention of your “Twitter eBook FREE JUST CLICK HERE”
- Presence of “69” in name (or “Shelly Ryan” as your name… poor, poor real @ShellyRyan)
- Rockstar/Maven/diva/coach/thought leader/guru/expert/pro/maverick
- Porn-star-like attributes in avatar or links (Nudity, actual sexual acts, clear intent to seduce me with something other than words)
- Requests to click through to “see your profile”
- Googly-eyed “Twitter Basic” avatar (upload a photo, PLEASE)
- @ing people the same link OVER AND OVER
Jim Storer’s“not follow” strategy
I’ve never auto-followed anyone, which at this point means I’ve vetted (to varying degrees) nearly 3,500 people. Until recently you had to click through to a person’s/bots profile page to get the skinny on who they are. Now some of that info is available in the new follower email, but what I look for is the same.
- Following to Follower % (you’re following dramatically more people than follow you) – If this is too imbalanced there’s something fishy and I’m not biting.
- # of Updates to Followers/Following #’s – In the last six months I’ve started to see a lot of people with 5k+ followers/following and less than 100 updates. That suggests you’re just using a program to rack up followers and that just wrong (IMHO). I’m not interested in being another notch on your bedpost.
- If your bio includes any of the following I’m not interested: “more followers”, “make money”, “expert” (at anything), “MLM” and everything else Tim, Meg and Aaron came up with. I trust them.
- If the words you chose to describe your pursuits in your biography are overly loquacious I will not be inclined to follow you back. Get real… use real words and tell me who you are.
- If you haven’t written anything in your bio and/or you haven’t added a photo, I’m not following you.
- If you have zero updates how am I supposed to know what you’re going to talk about? I’m not listening until you start talking.
- If your last few updates are repetitive and too self-promoting, I’m not interested in seeing that day to day. I already saw what you have to say when I was checking out your profile.
- In most cases (not all), I like seeing a picture. If someone is obviously a n00b who looks to be figuring things out, I’ll cut ‘em some slack. Otherwise, they don’t make the cut.
- I need a bio. Is it too much to tell me what you do?
- I also need a tweet or two (unless they are a friend of mine and then of course they get the free hall pass)
- No “get rich fast, affiliate or “let me sell you some shit” in the bio or last few tweets.”
- One I get stuck on a lot is the news feed/blog title posts. These really depend on follow ratio and quality of the tweets. It also is up to my mood. If I’m hand following 40-50 people, these folks usually make it in. If it’s 4-5, not so much.
- I will follow ANYONE from Austin (pornos excepted)
- Oh yeah, I don’t follow webcam girls or known pornos.
Yup, I’m that dude. The one with his hand out asking for some change. Well, not actual change but the social equivalent. I’m looking for a vote (thumbs up or down) and/or a comment if you can spare it. It’s for the 2010 South by Southwest Interactive Conference (SXSWi) and I am lucky enough to be in the running for three different panels. I’ve also submitted a fourth panel for my colleague, Kathy Warren, to lead with a client and a couple of other rock star brands.
- Where ownership of content starts, ends and why the lines blur.
- How to deal with “inappropriate” content, handling negativity, moving beyond the C level fear of what people might say.
- The best ways to strike a balance between expert, curated and customer generated content.
As you probably know by now, I do a weekly podcast with my friend and co-host, Jennifer Leggio called the Quick-n-Dirty show. If you don’t know the genesis of this series, you can get the back story here.
- On our eleven shows, we’ve covered ten social networks. We try and cover one every week but accidentally skipped Glue during week two so it got bumped to week three. Here are they are in order of appearance – FourSquare, Glue, Blip.fm, Daily Mile, Loopt, 12 Seconds, Shelfari, Friendfeed and Aardvark. A quick heads up on the fact that we will have have Friendfeed (now part of Facebook) co-founder, Paul Bucheit, on the show next Thursday. Scobleizer take note!
- One of the other regular parts of our shows is our featured “Tweet” or exec/person that we think is worth a follow. So far, we’ve covered CISCO CTO, Padmashree Warrior, Nancy Duarte, CEO of Duarte Designs, Kodak CMO, Jeffrey Hayzlett, BIDH CIO, John Halamka, Technically Women (comprised of a group of very smart ladies), Cluetrain author, Doc Searls, Dr. Ogan Gurel, Red Sox tv color announcer, Jerry Remy, former Yahoo, Ryan Kuder, principal at The Community Roundtable, Rachel Happe and last but not least, tweeting couple Terre & John Pruitt.
- My favorite part of our show are our guests. So far, we’ve had a number of great ones including Michael Feferman of C3 and Rick Calvert of Blog World but in particular, Jen and I agreed that our two favorites have been Greg Matthews of Humana and Bert DuMars of Newell Rubbermaid. Not only did both impart some major pearls of wisdom about how their companies were tapping into the power of community and social media, but Greg and Bert also showed a great sense of humor. You can bet that they will both be asked back sometime in the near future. I guess I should mention Pandora CEO, Tim Westegren too ’cause he was pretty awesome.
- The reason we originally started our podcast show was as a result of a disagreement Jennifer and I had over the value of celebrities like Oprah and Ashton Kutcher joining Twitter. Since then, we’ve had eleven opportunities to “agree to disagree.” To be honest, Jennifer and I actually agree quite a lot of the time so many times, we end up flipping a coin to see who is going to take the counterpoint of a particular topic. This is pretty fun — kind of like debate club if you think about it. In our next batch of shows, I’m goign to have to work harder to find topics that push Jennifer’s buttons.
When: 6:00 P.M. on Thursday, August 13th
Where: 714 Congress Avenue, Suite 200 (upstairs)
They’re eager to meet Austin’s press, bloggers, technocrats and party people.
Software Advice Moves to Austin (more deets here)
Another day, another Quick-n-Dirty podcast show. Oh, I mean that in a positive way. It’s always good when you feel like you’ve hit your groove with a blog/podcast show. Obviously you need to keep it fresh but understanding what’s working and whats not comes from practice. It also allows you to try new things like our surprise guest dial in at the end of the show from friend, Bill Johnston of Forum One (more on that below).
- Featured Social Network: Aardvark. While Jennifer and I haven’t used this service a ton, both of us have answered the e-mail requests that have come from our friends. One of the main reasons we like Aardvark (in addition to the awesome t-shirt Aaron received), is that it’s old world (e-mail) meets new world (social networking). It’s also a clever use of geo-based social networking without the intrusivness of being gps-discoverable which Jennifer doesn’t like.
- Special Guest & Case Study: Dan Schawbel, “leading personal branding expert for Gen-Y,” author of Me 2.0, and social media specialist at EMC. It was pleasure having Dan although I will say that he sure does know how to talk (and that comes from a guy that’s pretty darn good at talking himself).
- Featured Twitterer: Rachel Happe. For the second straight week, Jennifer and I picked someone that we both knew and respected (last week, we had Ryan Kuder). I worked with Rachel at Mzinga for a few months — something that just deepened my great respect for her. In addition, Rachel is part of the group, Technically Women, an organization that Jennifer also belongs to (and something we covered back in week five). Oh yeah, Rachel is a former IDC analyst and is currently a principal at The Community Roundtable along with close friend, Jim Storer.
- Point / Counterpoint: The Speaker’s Group neglecting to include any women on it’s “top 10 social media speaker list.” I’ll spare you the details as Jennifer covered it thoroughly in a post over on her ZDNet blog (Geoff Livingston also shared some thoughts here). Bottom line, Jennifer (who is repped by the Speaker’s Group) thought it was most effective for her to work with the SG to help find a solution to their initial faux pas of not including ANY women on their list of top ten social media speakers. My position was, “shame on them for not getting it right in the first place.” To that end, our friend Bill Johnston — our surprise guest caller — who runs events for ForumOne said that it was B.S. because if anything, he found it easier to land great women speakers to talk about social media and community at his events. Yay Bill!
A few highlights from the session for those that like to read more than they like to listen:
- Jeremiah Owyang (3:49 – 3:58) “In the past, we thought of interactive marketing which is user to Web site. Now, in social marketing, very different, it’s user to user. “
- Brian Morrissey (5:18 – 5:43) “What we’re talking about here with Connect, is how brands can look at these social platforms and tool sets as ways to really further make connections with their consumers wherever they are. And Facebook Connect has the possibility of allowing them to embed social marketing into how they interact with consumers.”
- Susan Getgood (10:08 – 10:34) “Knowing what people find interesting to share is as important as knowing what they are looking at themselves. When we have a Web site, we can look at analytics and see which pages people are hitting and where they click-through and all this other stuff, but the idea that they thought something was important enough to share, that kind of information gives a company of any size the kind of information to know what kind of content really engages your customer and you can build more of it.”
During the podcast, I also referred to some engaging statistics put together by the Business Insider regarding the effectiveness of Facebook Connect (thanks to Pearl Russell on the Powered team for finding these):
- Registration: sites that use Facebook Connect as an alternate to account registration have seen a 30-200% increase in registration on their sites.
- Engagement: sites with Facebook Connect see a 15-100% increase in reviews and other user generated content
- Traffic: For each story published in Facebook, we see roughly 3 clicks back to the site. Nearly half the stories in the Stream get clicked on. This creates opportunities for the site to encourage more user actions – knowing that each one may result in 3 new visits to their site. With other models like search, there’s nothing you can do to increase user traffic besides optimizing for keywords.
Most importantly, you probably want to know the answer to which successful companies are currently using Facebook Connect? Unfortunately, there aren’t many Fortune 500 companies using it yet but during our podcast, Brian brought up the examples of JC Penney (it’s number 4 on the list of 10 in a great post by Mashable) and Red Bull. Jeremiah mentioned Volkswagon’s Meet the VW’s campaign.
To download this podcast, right-mouse click here and select “save file as.”
If you’re interested, we’ve got a slick demo of how Facebook will work with some of our Powered clients.
NOTE: The “Back to School” podcast series will be a regularly occurring podcast focused on the business value of social marketing, social media and online communities. Guests will include practitioners, authors, analysts and thought leaders in the space.