Twitter: Big Numbers Don’t Mean What You Think

TwitterFor those of you who question the validity of Twitter in business, I’m here to tell you to stop. Twitter, much like other mediums of social media, can affect your bottom line if you know how to use it. There is no one tactic to fit all, I can admit that, but that’s because each business is different and unique in its own way. Now lets talk about the numbers. You’ve seen some Twitter users with hundreds if not thousands of followers. From people you’ve never heard of to celebrities you have. However I’d like to expose a misconception in what novice people view in these numbers.

Follow for Follow: Now I haven’t been on Twitter since its original launch, but I have been around for a few years to see the evolution in its use. One of the things that annoy me and my team the most is people who follow only to get a follow in return. Oh they’re relentless too. I’ve even received followers that un-followed me months ago that tried to follow again to see if this time I’d bite. If I wasn’t in business to pay attention to who I follow and who follows our brand online they totally would have gotten me. So this thought that you must follow someone just because they’re following you is rubbish.

Follow Your Interests: I stopped short of saying “follow your heart” because that could easily lead you to trouble online. If you’re into woodworking, do a Twitter search for the keyword “woodworking” and see what pops up. Aside from the Tweets look at who said what and how long ago. See if you can jump into the conversation by @ replying. If the conversation or dialogs are of interest to you, go ahead and hit that follow button. Again, don’t hit it with the intent of getting a follow in return. Hit it because you value what that person has to say about that subject.

Thousands of Follows: Yea this is all too common these days. Check the screenshot below. How can you have 3,800+ follows and following 3,800+ and you’ve only tweeted 36 times? No website listed, No real name, No location. Clearly you bought all of those follows, and more than likely have a bot scrounging the net to follow people automatically. Don’t believe the hype people. When you come across these types of profiles just leave them be. Chances are they’ll latch on for a few days and drop off when their program notices you haven’t followed back.

Twitter Follow

Celebrities: They have big numbers because of the obvious. However they also have influence. The influence is what I strive to teach our clients to regard as important. If some pro-basketball player like Dwayne Wade said he was going to be at a Miami local night club, there would be a huge buzz around Twitter because of all the people who follow him. They’d RT that message and relay it to their followers by the hundreds or thousands just because of who he is and how highly they regard what he says. So be your own rock-star or celebrity in your local market.

Understanding social influence is what will keep social media in check. If we all went with the mentality of follow one and follow all, our timelines would be saturated with crap and Twitter wouldn’t be as fun anymore. I also think that’s what makes it great because you actually choose your level of noise.

There are sites out there where you can actually see some true numbers about Twitter handles if you really want to investigate the influence of a user. Sites like Twitter Grader, Peer Index, SocialBro, and Klout do just that. What you want to focus on in your own tweets, is the engagement. For a business, you can’t just run out there promoting your products and sales all day and expect orders to  flood your site (unless you’re selling $2.00 Jordan sneakers). But seriously, find people who are talking about your industry or products and talk with them. Answer some questions they may have regarding their needs. Be a positive influence. Through the courtship, you’ll establish a relationship. Offer more information by answering a question and insert a link to your website or blog post that talks more about your answer. Being a great source for answers or information is where the true value is. That’s what gets you more followers and RT (re-tweets).

Have any other real tips about Twitter, please share with us in the comments below.

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