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content marketing: the tit for tat of Twitter

July 27, 2010

About a month or so ago, our company started Tweeting. Yeah, I know, we were a little bit off the pace with this particular method of communication! However, our interactive/digital folks said it was the right thing to do – and so we ventured wide-eyed into what is still pretty much unchartered marketing territory.

The rules of tweeting according to those same folks, are to contribute to conversations, share relevant and interesting info, be transparent and never, ever, ever come across as salesy. It’s all about being part of a community.

With that in mind, we took the logical first step of reaching out to our business network. In addition to chirruping away on various marketing topics, we elected to follow a handful of companies with whom we had an existing relationship.

Well, within a week, our Twitter network had organically grown from zero to 1,500 followers. Again, following the advice of our digital strategists, we did the right thing and followed them back! At one point, we were following almost 2,000 companies and individuals.

Sounds great, huh – a growing symbiotic network. Not exactly. A closer inspection of our following revealed that most were promoting either porn, get-rich-quick schemes and currency trading software/sites.

In all honesty, I have no problem if the entire planet’s spamming community wants to follow us, but we quickly noticed that the tweets we really wanted to read were just lost in a steady stream of spam.

In order to restore some sanity, we decided to cull the number of people we followed. We slashed the number from 2,012 to 18. Almost immediately, the number of people following us started to freefall. Right now, we have about 600 followers and falling!

This is a rather long-winded way (well, we do specialize in longer form content!) of saying that this is the huge issue for Twitter. The tit for tat, or “I follow you, you follow me” nature of the business means that many companies simply grow meaningless networks where there is no social interaction and, as such, no positive business or social benefits.

In its current format, there is simply too much white noise for marketers to be able to effectively reach their target audience. In order to do so, they need to rely on their followers being as ruthless as we have been with whom they follow, or they need to deliver such exceptional, permission-based and earned value that their tweets are a “must read.”

It’s very clear that Twitter is a supplementary marketing strategy, not a mainstream initiative in its own right.

http://www.4th-e.com/blog

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