Dear CEOs of SEO/Marketing companies,
Guys (and it’s usually guys, although occasionally, some women get in on the act as well) we need to have a talk.
You keep following me on Twitter.
I don’t know why.
My Twitter account blatantly states that I’m Aspergian/autistic. That is to say, in more common (but less correct) terms, I “have” Asperger’s Syndrome/autism.
I can’t fathom what kind of interest you would have in me. But you people keep following me anyway. I’m always kind of surprised when you do.
Less surprisingly, you never actually interact with me. Never a “favorite” (clicking on the heart icon underneath a post/tweet, kind of like “Liking” a Facebook post). Never a retweet. Never a question, comment, or reply to anything I tweet/post.
What, do I have something on my chin? A Resting Bitch Twitter Face that I’m not aware of that scares you off? I don’t (usually) bite, you know.
Following someone on Twitter usually means that you like what they post, and you like their material enough that you regularly want to see it in your newsfeed.
But not you guys. You’re like ghosts. I’d use the term “ninja”, given the speed at which you appear and disappear, except that I like the word “ninja” too much. About five days after you start following me, you unfollow me. (I’ve almost timed it; it’s that predictable.)
And this phenomenon is by no means an isolated incident, either; it’s not even a rarity. This happens to me frequently, ranging anywhere from once a week to once a day (and sometimes even more often than that).
What’s up with that? Did all of you attend some cheesy marketing seminar in which the self-professed “guru” instructed you all to do this? Or were all of you hit with the same, boring, dim lightning bolt that gave all of you this equally-dim idea at the same time?
Did somebody profess, “go forth and follow people; it doesn’t matter whom”? Did they go on to say, “and if they don’t follow you back, unfollow them post haste! And you absolutely must do so within no less than five days, or your computer will spontaneously explode and the raven in your garden will harass you in your sleep forevermore”?
I haven’t seen any advice along any of these lines online yet. I’m slightly embarrassed to admit that today, I got curious enough to look it up. I guess I’m easily amused.
Spare time can be a dangerous asset.
But despite the lack of online gurus copping to advocating this follow-for-the-hell-of-it tactic, it doesn’t take long to do the math and figure out that lots of Twitter gurus must be making this suggestion, and it didn’t take me very long to put two and two together as to why.
The Golden Twitter Rule must be: follow others–anyone, and enough of them will follow you back.
This boosts something known as their Follower Count, which, given the readiness of which my iPhone suggested the term “count” after I typed in the word “follower”, I’m guessing is a big deal for the vainest of asshats in the cutthroat yuppie world.
It’s one metric (and a poor one at that) by which to measure one’s popularity, status, or Twitter prowess. Seeing a larger follower number attached to your profile every time you log in probably gives your ego a little lift, and it likely makes you feel better about yourselves. It gives you the impression that your little business is growing, and that everyone who follows you probably cares about what you have to say.
That’s probably not the case.
Y’all probably believe that whoever dies with the most followers wins.
That’s definitely not the case.
Yuppie marketing dudes, you can puff your peacock feathers and strut around in heat because hey–you have 20,000 followers on Twitter, after all! And your biggest competitor only has 10,000! You win! You’re hot shit and stuff.
But here’s the catch…
There’s something you need to know about Follower Counts, SEO/marketing guys: there’s a such thing as quality over quantity. You want those 20,000 followers to actually be interested in what you’re tweeting, otherwise you’re tweeting into thin air. You want your followers to be the type that engages with you.
And I am not one of those people who tends to engage with SEO/marketing people. I tweet about autism, and I chat with autistic people. That’s about it.
So please don’t fool yourself into complacency because you have 20,000 followers and your fiercest competitor only has 10,000, because despite his lower Follower Count, your biggest competitor may actually be more successful on Twitter than you are. He may actually be using Twitter more constructively and productively than you are. His followers may be more interested/engaged. He may actually be using Twitter more effectively than you, to grow a stronger business than you.
Why? How is that even possible?
Because they’re not wasting time hunting down and following people like me, that’s why.
Someone in the SEO/marketing industry who follows me is essentially sending the message that they’re an idiot who will stoop to the lowest common denominator in desperate attempt to grow their following in the least effective way possible.
I’m not the kind of person you want to follow. It won’t do you any harm to do so; it’s not like I’m going to come through your computer screen and smack you or anything (although sometimes I wish I could!).
The reason you don’t want to follow me is because I have zero interest in you and your products/services. (This goes double if the best strategy you have for building your business is to follow people indiscriminately in hopes of puffing up your stats.)
I don’t mention anything, either in my profile bio, my tweets, or even my retweets, about having any interest in business. I don’t even tweet much about being self-employed. And on the rare occasion that I do, I’m not hash-tagging those tweets as such.
And thus, given that you can’t read my mind and have no idea that I’m actually self-employed, you’d never know that I am.
Several of my Twitter friends are also self-employed, but you’d probably never know that, either–because you merely follow us to entice us to follow you back, without making any further effort to interact beyond that.
I have more (bad) news for you SEO/marking peeps: the click of a “Follow” button does not a friendship or business relationship make. Just because you follow me, that doesn’t mean I’m going to check your Twitter profile regularly, nor am I very likely to click through to the website link you posted in your Twitter profile’s bio.
As far as you know, I’m Asperger’s/autistic only. (That is, if you actually clicked on my very-visible bio and read any of it.)
Soooo…to follow me, unless you’re autistic/an Aspie or you know someone who is, only looks pointless and desperate. Like you’d follow anyone, no matter whom.
This sends a pretty poor message. Because, as I mentioned, many of my autistic/Aspie friends and myself are self-employed. There may come a time when we just might find ourselves in the position of being in the market for SEO/marketing professionals.
The problem is, we will already have been turned off by your (weak, terrible) business-building strategy (or, more accurately, your lack thereof). You’re going to be the ones we don’t end up choosing, because if following our Twitter accounts for the sole purpose of banking on our conscience of reciprocation is the best foot you have to put forward and the first impression you make, then Houston, you have a problem.
And then you unfollow, about five days later. Poof! Gone.
What’s that all about?
I’m guessing that since I didn’t follow you back, you’re now more concerned with another vain and semi-pointless metric: your Follower-To-Following ratio.
Yep, somehow, sometime, and somewhere in the Twitter-sphere, someone has deemed it important to have a bigger number next to your Follower Count than that that next to those you’re following. To have a higher number of people following you (especially contrasted with a lower number of people you’re following) makes you look more desirable and popular and stuff…
…which begs an off-shoot question: if I had the same dork-ass priorities you SEO/marketing peeps do, and I followed you back to show support for your following me and to entice you to continue to do so, would you have unfollowed me anyway, to boost that Follower-To-Following ratio?
It’s not that I care about these numbers myself. I don’t, not one iota, not anymore. It took me all of 3-4 months on Twitter to realize that follower numbers aren’t everything. I quickly realized that some followers don’t matter. I rapidly figured out that I’d rather have 150 cool followers/friends who interacted with me regularly than 1,000 followers who never acknowledged my existence. To put too much stock in numbers alone is a sure sign of shallowness and inverted priorities.
And I considered myself a little slow to wake up to that fact. So if I’m on the “slower” side of realizing this concept, and it took me 3-4 months to do so, and you’ve been on Twitter for longer than that, and you’re still succumbing to this tactic and placing way too high a value on these semi-meaningless stats, what does that say about y’all?
Shudder to think, frankly.
What it says about y’all is that you’re not exactly the cutting edge promotion team I would elect to give my business to, if/when the time comes that I could use services like yours.
So, whatever you’re doing, stop it. Whoever you’re listening to, ignore and fire them. If you’re actually paying for this advice, demand your money back or something. If you’re contracted with the “gurus” who are giving you this horrible advice, break that contract.
I’m here to tell you that I’m not even an SEO/marketing person, and even I know that this strategy is an epic fail of fairly egregious proportions.
It’s not rocket science. In fact, it’s rather basic.