Archive for July, 2010

answersocean.com and Twitter

July 25th, 2010

It is that time of year again… when the social media market heart gets all aflutter and decides to follow me so that I can be blessed with reading their content.  Yes, they may be a financial company targeting Americans living in the USA who need help with their 401K but that doesn’t stop them following people who don’t follow them.  Yes, it is the season where heterosexual marriage counselors in the USA start following gays and lesbians living abroad.  Their follow is indiscriminate because they aren’t interested in reading about gays and lesbians in Australia or Australians who don’t have to worry about American 401ks.  Yes, it is spam follow season… where the whole world is indiscriminately marketed at.

If you can’t tell, I really loathe this season.  I hate those e-mails from Twitter: Hi! Irrelevant company with 10,000,000 is following you! Congrats! This is just a crappy business practice than can have a negative impact on ROI and piss off casual users who aren’t looking to be indiscriminately marketed at.

Most of the time, I don’t follow people back.  (I’m currently getting about 1 to 3 follows a day from Bieber fans who like to Tweet about getting 10,000 followers fast.  Most have 100 followers.  I just ignore them.)  Sometimes, I like to @ reply thanking for the follow and asking why they followed me.  Sometimes, I DM them.  If I’m cranky or I think this is a business or social media guru who should know better, I like to add them to my spammer list.

Which brings us to today’s specialness…  I got an e-mail from Justin Dalton at answersocean.com.  (I don’t know his Twitter handle or his company’s handle.  It was never mentioned.)  He wanted off my spam list.  I e-mailed him back the following response:

If you were put on my spammer list, it was likely because of the following scenarios:

1) Followed me where I could not determine why I was followed (what are our shared interests?  what shared geography did we have?  what shared friends do we have?)
2) Followed me and did not interact with me to explain the above,
3) Posted using a method like API or Twitterfeed where it appeared likely that there was not a person behind the wheel and the tweets were automated,
4) Followed me and had 1,000+ followers where it appeared unlikely that you would ever read my content or interact with me as the chances of you seeing my content were infinitesimal,
5) Your follow looked like an attempt to improve your follow count total while not offering any value to the people you were following.

The act of unfollowing me is largely irrelevant as the initial follow behavior appeared spam like.

I’d be happy to remove you from my spammer list but I’d first have to hear about your current follow practices. How do you select who you follow?  What sort of value do you give to the people that you follow?

He sent back the following reply:

First thing first:

1) If you were being followed automatically, you wouldn’t have been engaged in this mail conversation.
2) It’s true that we had auto-followed people but that was just to test the system, and we have subsequently un-followed people since then.
3) It’s good that you are trying to be a ‘Twitter mentor’ or ‘Twitter agent’ but you are not what you are pretending. You are on twitter to ‘market your blog’, increase ‘reader count’ or to ‘get more traffic to your blog’ because you ‘think’ you are providing value through your blog. That’s what millions of companies/peoples doing on twitter.
4) Our initial request to you was polite but you didn’t reply back to us in that way and seemed ‘arrogant’ in the way you made us reply back to get us removed from your list.

5) We are neither twitting automatically nor spamming. We are here to provide value as well.

Finally, the act of un-following you is not ‘largely irrelevant’ as following seemed to ‘offend’ you and you were crazy to waste your time to take actions against us, so if you wish to remove us from the list, it would be nice and we would be thankful to you otherwise this is our last mail to you regardless of your further actions.

Thanks.
Justin Dalton

It’s special.  The ‘scare’ quotes and the calling me a liar.  This sort of thing is not how you sell your company.  I also have no idea, based on this e-mail, what his company is or what they do.  I don’t even know what the Twitter handle in question is.   Ooops.

Take aways from this:

1) Be selective in who you follow.  There are people like me who don’t want contact from random strangers where they can’t make clear connections as to why they were followed.

2) Don’t call people liars.  Your experiences are not universal and people use social media for a variety of reasons.  They won’t all be universal.

Edited to add: I had e-mailed an offer back to answersocean.com and offered to promote them if they could tell me what their company could do for me.  I got a nice one line generic bit that implied my blog was really well done.  There was no indication that they had even read my blog at http://ozziesport.com/ .  They didn’t comment on the topic of Australian sport.  This is massive fail. Don’t use generic terms that indicate you didn’t read it. They also said it looked very professional.  I use free Word Press themes.  I didn’t design the site.  It is another generic comment that says they didn’t read it.

answersocean.com never did tell me what their site can do for me.  I gave them a fair amount of material to work with to cater a personal response.  I included where I lived and my interests, both personal and professional.  I’ve still no idea what answersocean.com can do for me that  Yahoo!Answers can do for me.

If a potential customer asks you what your product can do for them, the emphasis should be on them.  Personalize your sales message.  If you can’t personalize, you can’t target an audience to get those key influencers that can help you grow and people won’t use you.  Also, they’ll write you off as spammers or totally clueless.  (That’s answersocean.com: Sending out indiscriminate follows and not being able to connect with their customers.)

Why @peterjamesfreer is a spammer

July 23rd, 2010

@peterjamesfreer boldly posts on his Twitter profile that he’s not a spammer.  He isn’t selling a product, therefore he isn’t a spammer.  That’s awesome except spam isn’t about product selling.  Spam is an unwanted e-mail, usually of a bulk matter and often selling a product.  The important part of that definition is the first part: Unwanted.

I love Twitter.  There are some truly awesome people on Twitter.  I love to interact on Twitter.  That’s why I use it.  I’m relatively selective in who I chose to follow because I use it to interact, to maintain relationships and to develop new ones.  That’s my primary purpose.  My secondary purpose involves getting news from various sources that I consider relevant.

Both of these follow practices involve two very different types of interactions.  The first generally requires a mutual follow with the intention of interacting.   If a person follows too many people, it means the chances of our interaction will be low.  Thus, I’m less likely to follow them unless I believe that they will read my @ replies or they are that important network wise that I need to follow them anyway.  In these cases, being followed by those people first is awesome as it lets me know that they are there.

The second kind of follow does not require that I get a follow back as I don’t have any intention necessarily of interacting with that person or business and if I do, it would be in another format, such as on their website.  Do I need the Chicago Tribune or Chicago Sun Times to interact with me?  No. I follow them to keep up with news from home.  Do I expect to interact much with United Airlines?  No.  I’m following them to find out about deals that they may have.  Do I expect to interact much AFL clubs?  Not really but it would be awesome.  I’m mostly following them for research and content purposes.

@peterjamesfreer followed me.  I didn’t go “Hey! Here’s a guy selling himself really well, providing valuable must read content!  I’ve got to follow him.  I know he has 10,000 followers but I’m not seriously expecting to interact with him so no big deal.  He’s posting about Chicago/social media metric analysis/Australian sport/living in Australia.”  I didn’t find him and think that.   He didn’t follow me because he expected to interact with me.  I know this to be true because he has 10,000+ followers so he can’t ever possibly read me.  (I can barely keep up with 350 and the only reason I can is that a lot of people aren’t active.)  Neither one of us is going to get any value out of a mutual relationship follow.

Wait.  He might.  He might be defining followers as value… and if you’re following me, if you’re reading my stuff (which he isn’t), then you’d get that I have a world view that sees that sort of behavior as not particularly meaningful.  I’ve been talking to people professionally and making it clear that you’ve got to have some sort of goal when it comes to social media, you’ve got to have some sort of objective and some way to measure success.  If you’re a candy shop in rural Illinois, it would be easy enough to get 3,000 followers.  If 2,500 of your followers are from Pakistan, Kosovo, the PNG and you don’t ship there and you don’t have a plan for how to get those followers to visit you in rural Illinois, then your Twitter strategy is full of massive fail.  You’re never going to convert those people over.  Given that, it would be better to have 150 followers all from yoru part of rural Illinois.  It would be good to read those followers, to interact with those followers and to develop relationships with those people.  THAT will lead to more sales, greater awareness of who you are, spread the word of mouth about your business to the wider community.

Where @peterjamesfreer fails is that he doesn’t seem to be about either of these: He doesn’t create organic content that people will naturally find on their own.  He doesn’t appear to be about developing relationships.  (He can’t as he can’t read us.)  He doesn’t appear to have a audience he’s targeting.  (Why target some one who rails against the type of behavior he engages in?)  He indiscriminately follows people.  He’s willing to risk their ire.  He doesn’t care because he claims he’s not a spammer.

All the denials in the world won’t make him less of a spammer.  He’s not reading people.  He’s sending intrusive requests for interaction.  He appears to be assuming most people are automating their follows to automatically follow him.  (Which creates a huge net of not reading people.  Twitter has a huge ecosystem of spam that I want to avoid.)  He offers zero value to the people follows.  That’s classic spam behavior.  His comment regarding not being a spammer is based on a false definition of spam and the idea that Twitter is about building meaningless metrics, and in building those metrics, what you’re doing isn’t spam.

@peterjamesfreer needs to remove the line about being a spammer.  He can continue on with his spam follows if he wants.  (Just don’t target me and my accounts.  Please.  I’m tired of Twitter spam.  He’s not the first.  He’s about the 15th this week, but the first to say he’s not a spammer.)  He could change his behavior.  (Unfollow down to an amount of people he could reasonably follow, selectively follow people based on how they help him accomplish his objectives, interact with a greater percentage of people on his follows list, provide great content that will grow his followers list, or get a job that will automatically improve his follower numbers.)    @peterjamesfreer should be more honest in his profile page.

Oh and @peterjamesfreer shouldn’t follow people who are doing work that focuses on debunking the metric that he’s busy trying to use to make himself feel better about himself.

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