Don't Alienate Your Existing Audience | Twitter Badgering | Facebook Fans

I am all for marketing yourself in the smartest and most creative ways possible. I think people need to stand out in a sea of competition... show their personality or whatever else makes them unique and attractive to hire. We all already know that Facebook and Twitter are great for this. You get to build a fanbase who is at least interested in the little things you have to say... your blog posts (Twitter feeds are the new RSS, unfortunately)... your photos... pretty much all the stuff you upload, be it personal or business related.

The problem is with people who don't understand what to do with their existing audience and instead of offering something of value to them... or strengthening their bond and loyalty and "fandom" of them... they instead alienate them with constant badgering and repeat messages.

Yes, it's true that they used to say you have to repeat something 7 times in a commercial (I think it was 7) in order to get people to remember it. Yes, it's true that the reason you see a commercial more than once on television during the same 30 minute show is because people get convinced of things through repetition. The difference is that people are willing to deal with those ads as a "payment" for watching an entertaining (hopefully) show. What are you offering them to follow you on Twitter or be your Facebook fan?

What Value Do You Offer?

Are you only posting things about yourself? Are you only posting notices about your own business and your blog posts and the last photos you shot? If your intended audience is your family and you just want them to know what you're doing in life... that is fine. If your intended audience are true fans of yours who hang on every detail in your life... well that's weird but it's also fine. But if you're attempting to build a follower base who you can sell your products and services to... basically building a client base who will know about your latest and greatest... you're going to need to do more than just promote yourself.

I used to follow too many people on Twitter. I say too many not because I think there's a threshold over which you can't successfully pay attention to... but because I was following people that my eyes would automatically skip over in my Twitter client because I knew without reading their tweet that I wasn't interested in what they were saying (most likely because you always say the same thing or only talk about you, you and you). So... that made no sense and I eventually just got rid of them. If they had ever offered anything that entertained, educated, inspired or somehow moved me... I wouldn't naturally skip over them at the sight of their avatar.

I am not saying I'm an expert at this. I am guilty of the same sometimes. I'm definitely not saying that I entertain, educate, inspire or move people... but I do try. And considering that Mr. Tweet shows me that for every 30 people or so who add me, around 10 drop me... I know I'm not always successful (though at least half of these are marketers trying to inflate their numbers by following loads of people and unfollowing the ones who don't follow back).

Twitter Badgering

So you have a new product or service... or a new contest... or a new whatever... or maybe not even something new... and you announce it on Twitter and see that 10 of your 1,000 followers responded in some way. Awesome!

So later in the day you announce it again to get the people who weren't paying attention in the morning... and sweet! Another 4 people responded.

So late that night you again announce it... so you can reach the followers who are night owls and don't pay much attention to Twitter during the day. 1 more response, not bad!

Ok... now STOP. At least for a while.

Three times in the same day is already pretty bad for the same exact announcement unless it's something amazing... but it makes sense when you've got something big going on... however seeing people post the same thing day after day after day is just extremely annoying, and puts you in the category of people I will start to automatically skip over in Tweetie when I'm reading tweets... and you will eventually be cut when I do my quarterly cleanup of my following.

There are lots of exceptions to this... ongoing contests being one of them. Especially ones where you need daily votes. There's still a point at which it's too much, but I appreciated when Mike Ambs was doing this every couple days or so to get Babelgum votes because I did want to vote but without his tweets I'd likely not remember... or more recently Brigitte Dale is promoting her daily need for votes to win the "Good Mood Gig". These contests allow people to vote over and over every day... so a daily or so reminder through the short duration of the contest isn't a bad thing.

Announcing the availability of a workshop as the seats fill up is also a pretty decent exception in my opinion... but again you just need to not overdo it. Once you've said something 3-5 times on Twitter you can trust that most of the people who care at all about things you say have seen it.

There are lots of other exceptions... and I think that uncommonly used thing called common sense will be able to handle your decisions on these on a case-by-case basis.

Facebook Fan Invites

TOO MANY Facebook fan invites

Facebook fan invites are the reason I started typing this blog post... after venting a bit on Twitter and creating my new rule.

If you send me an invitation to be your fan when I'm already your Facebook "friend", I'm going to unfollow you.

This makes sense to me. I'm already your "friend" (I put that in quotes because a large portion of my Facebook "friends" are people who I don't know but who added me because I am part of their industry and have many OTHER "friends" in common. I'm totally cool with that... it's a good way to network and see what's going on in your industry and I enjoy having the extra base of people who will see a certain percentage of my updates). Being your Facebook friend means I will see your announcements and new photos and other things you post about. I'll see them and I'll act on them if I choose to. That means I'm already part of your audience.

Don't Ruin a Good Thing

If you've already gotten me (and all your other "friends") to accept your friend invite... you should be pretty happy. We are now a part of your audience. Build upon it, cultivate it... and help it grow. You are NOT going to make me happy by now trying to get me to become your Facebook "fan".

By sending me notices every week or even month to become your fan you are essentially alienating me, your willing audience, and creating a barrier between your information and my desire to receive and process information. It's annoying. It's bad business. It's essentially not very smart.

Use that effort instead to try and convert people who AREN'T your audience into Facebook friends or fans. Otherwise you're just ruining a good thing you already have going with people you are already connected to.

BUT don't ask me how to do it though, cuz I have no idea. I am identifying what's wrong here (and it's still just MY opinion)... but have no solution to offer another route. Do you? I'd love to hear it in the comments below.

Aardvark | Are We Really This Lazy? | Google Fu

image by Chris Bartnik

Aardvark

Aardvark is a service that allows you to ask a question to the community... and it will send that question to someone who is available and might know the answer (based on categories that its members sign up for) and then typically provides you an answer within 5 minutes by one of these other community members. They have a nice little iPhone app that makes asking these questions pretty easy wherever you are.

I tried out the service for a little while... but I never actually asked it a question... though I was able to provide answers to a few.

While some of the questions I saw were really legitimate things you'd need to ask in order to find an answer... MANY of them just pointed to a bigger question...

Are We Really This Lazy?

I knew there was something wrong when most of the questions I didn't have answers to I knew I could find with a quick Google search... and I did. I found that I could answer quite a few of the questions with a simple Google search (though in my frustration with these "lazy" people I didn't answer the questions for them, yes cuz I'm a jerk). Other questions, like "is anyone hiring in Chicago, IL?" or "what is your favorite song this year?" seem to be out of place on the site... which left less than half that I thought needed to be legitimately answered on Aardvark by someone else (some questions asked for specific recommendations for products and services... and these seemed totally useful to me if you're the type of person who doesn't LOVE research like I do).

The people asking these questions are already online, obviously know how to use the internet... and have enough time that they can log on to the site and ask the question and wait 5 minutes or so for an answer... so couldn't they just Google it?

Google Fu

I have been using the internet since 1995... and I'm fairly geeky. I've Googled (yes I've been using it as a verb forever) things thousands of times... and perhaps I've gotten a lot of practice. They say it takes 10,000 hours to become a true master of something... and I wonder how many hours I've spent searching for things on the internet... but I really don't feel that my Google skills are so much more powerful than the average internet user. Still, these questions are being asked on a forum

I can't remember, however, the last time I had a question that I couldn't answer with a Google search. Obviously there are types of questions that can't be fully answered with facts... but I'm talking about questions that have simple, factual answers.

We Are To Blame

I am definitely not blaming Aardvark for this problem. I think their service is really great... and I haven't spent THAT much time on it so I have probably not been exposed to the many great questions that probably exist on the site. My frustration is more with people in general. The truth is that I've felt just as frustrated with people on forums and other places where these questions typically surface... I just never really voiced it until now.

I do think services like Aardvark and specific forums like the new videoWTF are awesome places to learn from others and get questions answered for things that aren't so commonly documented online... and there are a lot of those things when it comes to really specific industry or trade related questions (I've answered some tough questions on videowtf.com)... but I get really annoyed when I log into Aardvark and see someone asking "what's the capital of Alaska?".

Or am I wrong?