Value Relationships. Not Get Twitter Rich Schemes.

Brian Solis quote on Twitter Traffic Machine

I thought I had covered this issue in a previous post, but looking back I don’t think as adamantly as I had hoped, but with recent issues surrounding Twitter, it seems that I might need to be a little bit more vocal. As you know in the past couple of months, Twitter has become the thing to try out. Is it a fad? I don’t think so. Is it the latest & greatest craze happening in the world that everyone needs to try out? Not for me since I’ve been using it for at least the past two years along with many of my friends and countless others. But what is particularly interesting is that since the self-annointing of Ashton Kutcher as the “King of Twitter” and the follower battle that he ensued with CNN that led to his coronation of the Twitter realm, the web has been abuzz with Twitter-mania. 

Don’t get me wrong. I’m fine with the fact that people are getting into Twitter. But now that it’s officially hit mainstream media – which I’m a little confused about since most media have already been on Twitter, but only when Kutcher promotes it does it become “mainstream”? – there’s a influx of new users but at the same time, a lot of confusion. The majority of the people on Twitter just seem to value the philosophy of the old social networks: it’s all about finding people of interest and racking up your numbers. That shows you’re the coolest in the world.

Wrong.

Absolutely wrong.

It’s not about numbers. Even if you’re not using Twitter in some official or professional capacity, you can’t just treat followers as numbers to increase your profile because you won’t get any value out of it. Compared to other social networks that you may have used in the past (e.g. Myspace, Asian Avenue, Friendster, etc.), you’re not really going to find that you can upload your videos, pictures, change your wallpaper, and all the other customizations that you may have grown accustomed to. With Twitter, you have 140 characters. That’s it. Make conversation.

Think of it like your family is eating at the dinner table. With traditional social media sites, the dinner table is flooded with people eating while on the phone, reading the newspaper, radio is on, the television is blaring in the background and everyone is doing whatever they please without a care in the world but at least they have people in their network. With Twitter, you’re at the same dinner table but everything is turned off. You and your family are eating and talking to each other. You’re telling how your day went and others are responding accordingly. That’s it. No other distractions or people doing their own thing which creates distractions. You’re conversing back and forth and if you’d like to continue certain conversations, you can take them to other rooms in the house. Simple, yes?

So what has me irked about this whole fiasco? Well public relations expert and web professional Brian Solis and Seesmic founder & former Six Apart executive Loic Le Meur found an apparent “get rich quick” site that brought this all to a head. In one tweet, Mr. Solis queried, “It is real. What do we do about this?“. The answer is this: We need to educate people to let them know that the fact that they have 16,000 new followers in the next 90 days is beyond comprehension. How can you possibly find that much interest in what they have to say. Sure, they may be following you…because I’m sure that it’s entirely possible for me to gain that many followers. But at the end of the day, you’re going to realize that you’re having a one-sided conversation. Remember the analogy about the dinner table I made earlier? Well it’s like you talking to one of your children and them not responding to you…let alone paying attention to you. Doesn’t feel good now does it?

But I suppose I should state that the video does make some points of contention as well. In the video, the “salespeople” state that they were successful in gaining an enormous amount of followers that with this “power”, they could send at least 400 people to various sites and be influencers. I’m sorry, but that’s not true. The reason why people follow you in the first place is because of some common interest. In your haste to get higher follower counts, you probably failed to realize that they may all be people with low rate of conversion. What do I mean by this? Just because I’ve tweeted about jobs in San Francisco, for example, does not mean that I’m going to be interested in following you. And even if I do, does not mean that I consider you to be an influencer. A true influencer would know that it’s going to take more than simply waving their hand and their entire follower count will run and fetch him his slippers or hold onto his words like they came down from the heavens.

Also imagine this, everytime I send out a link I get 2% of my followers clicking on it immediately. That is 400 clicks within minutes! What would that do for your business???

Please don’t buy into such thoughts because you’re forgetting that my 2% of followers is probably not as many as someone who has over 16,000 followers, but if I’m understanding and have spoken to my friends and told them why they should be interested in product X, they’ll be more inclined to visit said site more than your follower count. Just because it’s 400 clicks within minutes doesn’t mean anything also. Long gone are the days of clicks and hits. We’re looking for more solid metrics like actual conversions. You can have as many people viewing my site, but at the end of the day, I’m not interested in my web traffic if it’s not resulting in someone commenting, retweeting, blogging themselves, subscribing to my RSS feed, etc. or perhaps purchasing something and giving me money (if I had a retail store). Without the aspect of a conversion and the conversation about why a website is worth looking into, you will ultimately fail in gaining respect from your Twitter marketers.

I have managed to increase my twitter following by 20,000 people since early November, 2008. And, I developed this product which makes money directly from this growth, every day. Not only that, but YOU can duplicate what I have done and make money every day.

Is it all about money? Twitter is not a means for get-rich quick schemes. It takes solid efforts to get several thousand followers unless you’re a celebrity. But even so, you need to be offering something solid and insightful. Without this, your follower count could be 1 million but no one is going to pay attention to what you end of tweeting. You’ll just have an army of 1 million who just have you added to their following list. No care in the world.

Remember that it’s all about conversation and building relationships. Once you’ve built up a rapport, you’re going to need to maintain that trust and companionship. Just because someone is following you doesn’t mean that you hold kingship over them. They can simply stop following you because you revel in your tyranny and think that because you have 16,000 or even over 1 million Twitter followers, your word is law. Remind yourself that your numbers don’t matter. It’s the trust you’ve established with your followers that will cause them to respect you.

By Ken Yeung

Ken Yeung is a journalist fascinated with the stories of the tech industry and internet culture. He's currently the Technology Editor at Flipboard, where he observes what's happening in the space while also identifying new topics of interest. In addition, he co-hosts the weekly internet show "The Created Economy," which focuses on what's happening to creators and influencers. Previously, he was a reporter for VentureBeat and The Next Web, covering tech startups, the industry's innovations and funding. Ken also has a newsletter you should also subscribe to called "Filed."