Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Economy of likes - Why being followed isn't enough

I don't know how many times I come across somebody who may have a large amount of followers, whether it is a Facebook page or Twitter or MySpace (Just kidding, MySpace is irrelevant) with the "Gotta Collect them all" follower collection philosophy. This person inevitably believes that this somehow gives them Clout (not Klout). It is true that if you have a large "fan base" that you can have wider distribution of your message but the social media experience isn't just about distribution, it's about amplification and what I like to call "The Economy of Likes".

If you are a newspaper, then you can assume that if you have a larger distribution that you have more readers and therefore, more clout. This works because you have to pay for a newspaper. It is a safe bet that everyone who is buying your paper is probably taking a look at it before they use it to pack glasses or wrap fish. Who would buy something and then not use it? That's madness!

Social Media however is largely free. I can casually follow anything and never pay attention to it. Meanwhile they will still report me among their loyal fans even though I wouldn't know their message from a mackerel. This is a faulty premise though, because the only followers that mean anything are those who actually value you and *like* and amplify your message.

It started with Facebook with their like button. Think that article is great? Like it! Think that photo of your girlfriend is flattering? Like it! Use a product and want to tell all your friends how great that product is but you don't know how? Like it, of course. The economy of likes doesn't just pertain to Facebook though even though Facebook has a literal *like* button. Twitter also has likes, many different types of likes, actually.

When someone follows you, it is ostensibly because they like your message. This is a low value like though, just because they follow you gives you no guarantee that they will continue to subscribe to and enjoy your message. Thankfully it doesn't end there. Twitter's most direct method of likes is the option to Favorite a tweet. This shows how much you like a particular tweet and lets you refer to it later which can be useful, especially if you are as active on twitter as me and want to remember a great message later.

Then you have the indirect likes. If you respond to something someone said, it could because you either agree, or disagree. As far as the world at large is concerned, this increases your general likes because it amplifies your message, even if that Reply is a disagreement. Then you have the single best way to amplify your message and show much everyone likes what you have to say and that is the re-tweet. While in theory, having more followers can help you to achieve more likes, after all there is nothing wrong with starting with a wide network. However, how many likes you have, is way more important than how many subscribers you have for your FREE newspaper. 

Monday, April 11, 2011

Why I am not following you

This is a topic that comes up a lot with rme. The Social media Prophets live and die by the follow back. Back when twitter had an auto-follow, you could just follow thousands of people and expect to get thousands of followers back. Not anymore. If an account has a lot of followers, it SHOULD be because they are interesting or have some kind of value, auto-follow did not allow this number to be relevant. In a community the gives away follows like like they have no value. Your follow does have value, so does mine. Here is who you should follow.

1.) Interesting people - Many people will use apps to remove people who do not follow back. I don't agree with this, not everyone has the ability to keep up with thousands of people but are more than willing to engage if you message them directly. If they are interesting, follow them, interesting people provoke interesting tweets from you. Also, you loose important amplification potential if you remove those who don't necessarily follow you back.

2.) Engagers, Reply or Re-tweets - Has the person engaged with you before? If they have they probably will again, every time you engage, you increase your reach and amplification. If someone re-tweets me, I always check out their stream and see if they are posting value, if they are, I will follow them. This is a great way to increase your clout in the areas in which you are confident and you'll probably make some friends on the way. ALWAYS good.

3.)Friends of Friends - The thing about twitter is, if the first character in a tweet is the @ sign, you will only see the tweet if you also are following that person. If that tweet includes multiple people at the front of the tweet, then you wont see that message unless you follow all of them. By following the followers and friends of those you enjoy chatting with you ensure that you won't miss out on moments when you can contribute relevantly to the conversation. Imagine that twitter is a Venn Diagram. You want to be in the middle so you don't miss out.

4.) Businesses - People tend to underestimate twitter accounts representing a business. A lot of the people behind these accounts are personable and energetic. Some of my first exposure on twitter came when Fred Meyer (A grocery chain)  re-tweeted something I said about a sandwich I got a local Fred Meyer deli. 

Really, its about following people that you find worthy of following, if you don't find them worthy of your valuable follow, don't follow them. Sound easy enough?

Monday, March 7, 2011

You're doing it wrong - The myth of influence

There are lots of people, false prophets of social media that will tell you how to gain clients and influence through twitter. They have certain concepts that they parrot off as if they were speaking the gospel truth but many of these principals are at best flawed and at worst outright damaging to your twitter experience.

I would like to break down these false truths so that you can see them as they are. Naked in the street, surrounded by their followers who can't seem to realize that the emperor has no clothes.

Myth 1: The Follow back
Most false prophets will tell you to follow back everyone who follows you. While I can appreciate this from a specific honor system angle this is not good for a quality standpoint. Not everyone who follows me is going to provide quality content or information. I consider twitter to be a battle of wits and the people I follow to by my army and I refuse to go into combat unarmed.
Myth 2: Followers = influence
While it is true that having a large quantity of followers can help you to amplify your message but let me ask you, if you have 11,000 followers, how influence are they? Does anyone really care if they retweet your message? I recently saw an account with 11,000 followers (most likely added through a commercial service) that had a Klout score of 65. While Klout is not everything, it is still a tool. I like to say that Klout won't tell you what you are, but it can tell tell you where are. I only have 400 some followers and a Klout score of 61, you be the judge.
Myth 3: You need a professional
A lot of prophets will tell you that you need a professional for whatever it is you are trying to do, improve your resume, increase your influence, whatever. I disagree. While there are times when a professional will be able to do things you don't have the necessarily technical skill to do, I wholeheartedly believe that I would rather have a highly motivated amateur than a bored professional. There is nothing that you can't do yourself given enough motivation and study.
Whenever someone asks me what they need to do in order get more twitter followers I always tell them to be more interesting, after all, people follow interesting people. I know I do. In the whole business of social media there is only ONE buzz word that has any value.


Engage with your followers, engage with those you follow, by engaging with high profile and high influence twitter denizens you can help to amplify your own message.  You do have a message right? You don't? Oh, well then you are doing it wrong.

Find me on Twitter @robertheadley

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Should #usguys change its name in order to be perceived as more inclusive?

I introduced you to #usguys in the previous post. Now I am going to talk about a subject that we have been tasked with blogging about, discussing. #usguys is not a gender specific group, even though it may come across that way, nor does it require any specific nationality even though it says US right there in the hashtag, but our leadership believes that it may give that impression, and I agree. I would never have suggested that the name be changed, but I will support such a decision, and here is why.

Web sites often use a heatmap of clicks to show what draws the eye primarily. in #usguys it is the collective guys.Tue Feb 08 07:37:24 via TweetDeck

which is primarily a male collective, secondly a neutral collective. After you locate guys, you see us. #usguys is not a common useTue Feb 08 07:37:58 via TweetDeck

@robertheadley of the vernacular so you associate us as the abrev US or United States. So you think United States Guys. #usguysTue Feb 08 07:38:23 via TweetDeck

@robertheadley Gender Biased and nationality biased. It isn't, but that is how it is associated. #usguysTue Feb 08 07:38:47 via TweetDeck

I did a few simple Google searches to illustrate my point. A search for "us guys" brings up 2.6 million hits. Not bad, seems popular enough. However a Google Search for "you guys" a more common use of the vernacular or colloquialism and you get 460 million results. That is roughly 178 times more common. When people see #usguys their mind first latches on to guys, then us is remaining. Since "us guys" is 178 times less common, they assume its an abbreviation and therefore United States. So to a casual observeror, #usguys looks like United States guys, a xenophobic, gender biased group. It is absolutely not that.

For this reason I support changing the name to something less easily confused as bias. After all, your name is your first line of fire when attracting new customers. #usguys is a brand. Just like you are a brand, and your company's name is a brand. If you wan't to sell hamburgers, you don't name your restaurant Waffle Hut, and if you don't want to limit your membership, you don't use a name that is easily confused as something other than it is. Everything is a brand, treat it like it is.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

A introduction to #usguys: The Global, Twitter Hashtag tribe.

A while back I was helping my good friend Kate Madonna Hindes ( AKA @girlmeetsgeek ) with some problems she was having with Tmobile at the time and It looks like someone Stephen Caggiano took notice and invited me to #usguys on twitter. On twitter, hashtags can be used a lot of different ways. One way is for emotional context in the often emotionless context of text. The primary use is to link topics together into one huge stream. services like Tweetchat have sprung up to help you follow these hashtag conversations. #usguys is one of the later.

#usguys as I would define it is a Global community of marketing, social media and creative people wanting to promote each other, social media and to motivate conversation on those topics.

We were recently poised the question, on whether twitter was a pulpit or was it a network? Why can it not be both? One must not underestimate the benefits of building rapport. Thanks to Twitter I now know a bunch of people in the fields in which I am interested, that is a very valuable network. Twitter also lets me get the message out about things and ideas of which I care. Twitter is also a Choir. Surely #usguys represents that. A hundred people, singing in one voice, in different keys with the occasional solo, but we are all singing about the same thing.

When it comes down to it, Twitter is a means of communication, what you do with that means, is up to you.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Pro-tip: Freeing your Facebook contacts without breaking ToS

I have discovered something amazing. I have a Motorola Droid X on Verizon which uses the Motoblur skin for Android. Motoblur allows me to merge Facebook, Twitter, and of course Google contacts into my contact list, which has been very convenient because I can call any of my facebook friends who have their phone number in their profile. Unfortunately this only does you so much good on your phone.

Thankfully if you go to the options in the contact manager you can export your contacts (including your normally sequestered Facebook contacts). Now you have a Vcard containing both your Google and Facebook contacts. You could then import this into Gmail or do as I did, and import into LinkedIn. I was able to find additional contacts that I was able to network with. The best part about this, is that it doesn't break Facebook's draconian terms of service.


Monday, January 24, 2011

7 pretty good reasons why you should hire Robert Headley

1.) Robert Headley is an ENTHUSIASTIC AMATEUR
Would you rather have an enthusiastic amateur on your team, someone willing to learn what it takes and do whatever is necessary, or would you rather have a bored professional that will cut corners to save time?
2.) Robert Headley is EXPERIENCED
While I do not have a lot of paid experience on the web, outside of a brief stint with AOL/Weblogs, INC on downloadsquad.com (which was awesome) I have been blogging for 10+ years and using Twitter and Facebook since they became available. Before that I was (and still am) active in IRC and forums.
3.) Robert Headley can write about ANYTHING
While I do specialize in technology and social media, give me enough time to research and I can write about anything you want me to. I have a general love of Knowledge and researching is half the fun.
4.) Robert Headley LEARNS QUICKLY
My main professional experience has been as a customer service representative in different positions for the last 8 years. I estimate during that time, I have learned 30+ different systems in order to be able to accomplish my job. As far as blogging systems, I am familiar with Wordpress, Blogger, Posterous, Tumblr, and Blogsmith, the publishing platform used by Weblogs Inc / AOL but I can and will learn anything necessary.
5.) Robert Headley is PASSIONATE
I am passionate about many different subjects. I love technology and I would certainly be at home on a gadget blog. I love pop culture and the geek sub-culture ( I am a geek, I know, you are surprised ) and would have no problem writing in the sarcastic and wry style that is popular with great pop culture sites.
6.) Robert Headley IS your target market
I am an 18-35 year old male that uses Facebook and Twitter extensively and builds real relationships online. I have many many friends and not just “friends” I live my life online and I understand your target market.
Email is slow, I prefer instant or near instant forms of communication such as Facebook, Twitter, Instant Messaging and text. Generally speaking you should use the Richest form of communication available to you. Naturally, the richest is face to face, but in absence of that you can use Video Chat, Voice Chat, Instant messaging, comments and lastly *ugh* email to communicate.

There are many of great reasons to hire me, Robert Headley. The best of which is that I have enthusiasm for the field and I will not let you down.