The leading article on AdAge.com today has been the Ashton Twitter stunt. The publicity around his race to 1,000,000 has certainly gotten a lot of people talking – and I’m sure many marketers are fantasizing about the power of having a million followers and what that could mean for a brand.
But I wanted to look beyond the numbers to consider what makes a “successful twitterer,” as the article mentions. Sure, having a million followers is one measure of success, but most other twitterers who I consider to be successful not only have a lot of followers, but still continue to interact with that audience. So I’d argue a good deal of “successful twitterers” continue to go beyond just broadcasting.
The Britney vs. Ashton example AdAge mentions is a good one. I often look at how many people a twitterer is following in return to see if their intentions to interact in this arena are true (vs just gathering followers for the sake of broadcasting). But it also matters what you’re doing with those followers. If you’re not interacting with your audience, then you’re missing out on the true value of Twitter. So in this respect, Britney gets minimal points for at least following a decent number of people back, but Ashton gets more points for actually interacting with others.
What I really love to see is the Twitter rock stars who have built up thousands of followers – but they’ve done this over time, creating a community that is relevant to them, not a race to an arbitrary number of followers. And these “Twitter celebrities” still continue interacting with their followers, participating in the sharing of ideas and conversations. Anyone (and any brand) can create a Twitter account and start adding. But this seems to defeat the nature of social media – which is quality over quantity. The true benefit of social media is creating and participating in a community that may be smaller in number (compared to mass media), but that consists of the people that find your brand most relevant.
All this being said, there’s room for broadcasting on Twitter if that’s the true essence of your brand. If you’re a celebrity and the most valuable thing you have to offer is access to your life for people obsessed with celebrity, broadcasting your thoughts and activities may be enough. If you’re CNN, there’s value to a real-time stream of news.
But for most brands, the greatest benefit in lies in taking the time to focus your efforts on what appeals most to your consumer and using social media to communicate that and build a powerful community around it.