Is there a difference between the way an organisation and an individual should conduct themselves on the internet? Both are projecting an identity. Both are aware of how they want to be seen, how people see them, and how their actions can influence the latter. Should they behave differently online?
Yes. They should. But don’t stop there. The distinction isn’t between whether you are an organisation or an individual. The distinction lies in the difference between what is successful, and what isn’t. And we all have different factors which determine our success.
Maybe your company considers success to be a ten percent increase on web subscriptions after changing the way you promote your videos online. Maybe you consider your personal interactions on a social networking site successful if at least 80% of the updates you see from your network are interesting or useful to you.
It is that end result, what you are online for in the first place, that should determine your approach – not your classification as an organisation, individual, animal or mineral.
I’m always leery when I hear advice that provides a single strategy for a single communication technology.
No matter where you are, there are only two rules to follow;
- If it isn’t worth reading/watching, don’t post it, and
- Don’t be a jerk
Everything else comes down to what your success criteria are. And everyone’s approach will be different.
Success on Twitter
This post was prompted by a staff member asking me what I thought of this article at Social Media Examiner
. Was it good advice? Was it bad advice?
I agree that depth of interaction with your followers is key. As to breadth, I personally feel the same way about this as Derek Powazek feels about SEO
. A good website gets a good ranking on Google because it
- Is worth viewing, and
- Isn’t being a jerk
That comes down to posting the right information, the right stories, for your audience. Posting quality. Posting relevant
information. Posting unique
information. And constructing your website in a standards-friendly, accessible way. If you do these things, you have optimised your website for search engines.
Sure, spammy sites might occasionally get a high rank for a day or two, but Google has developed some fierce techniques
to keep content relevant – which is why they are so successful.
Twitter is the same. If your success metric is “get a lot of followers” – why? Get specific. What is the goal you are after? Too often I see company stakeholders focussing on the “how” at the expense of the “why”.
If you are running a Twitter account on techniques for painting lizards under 5cm long with non-toxic blue paint, you might have trouble attempting to gather as many followers as say, Bill Gates
. You need a success metric that works for your niche, and your purposes. Are you trying to sell lizard-friendly paint, and you want to connect with other lizard-painting enthusiasts? If so, will dramatically increasing your followers (through white, black
, or grey-hat
methods) dramatically increase your sales. Is the investment in gaining a large amount of new followers worth the return to your business? (See: To follow or not to follow
I won’t argue that reach isn’t important
. Just that you need to stay focused on who you are reaching and why. And it is so easy for people to look at tools to increase their follower count and get carried away. (See: Seth Godin on online advertising click-throughs
My organisation’s Twitter account follows other related organisations. We do not follow anyone falling outside of this category. If we did, would it make a difference to our success? Tricky to say. I do find, however, that good interaction, good writing and timely content makes more of a difference. (See: Twitter competitions
and whether they’re worth the effort)(Alternatively, see: Feminist Hulk
Recently I was followed by a natural health company in Perth, who must have stumbled across my tweets via TweetBeep, hashtags or just by location searches. I’m interested in the products this company deliver, but had never heard of them before. I visited their website and determined that if I ever ahd need of their products in the future, I’d certainly consider shopping with them.
But I didn’t follow them back. Why would I? All they posted were links to their newest products and small facts about their organisation. I get much higher-quality health information from other sources, so I have no need to add to my information overload by following them. However, if you measured their success by introducing new potential customers to their brand, they were successful. If they only cared about who followed back, they’d be missing the point. (See: Influence vs Participation on Twitter
As far as the recommended tools on the SM Examiner article go, there are so many third-party apps, widgets, web services and browser plugins for Twitter that really, it’s much of a muchness. They will come and go – again, find the one that best suits your needs. I use Tweetdeck, Tweetbeep, Echofon and Twidroid for the most part, but there are many tools out there.
So. Was the article bad advice? Good advice?
It was just advice. In the end, your business/personal goals should drive your strategy – that, and following the golden rules: make what you say count, and follow the rules of etiquette that belong to the system you are using. (If you don’t know them, LEARN THEM
). Ignorance may be excused, but really, it’s not a good look. …Unless that’s the look you were going for.