Following: An Incredible Hulk of Branding/Promoting Consideration

Hey,  Musers.. (see what I did there?)  I hope you are enjoying the weekend thus far.  I’ve been traversing tree-lined trails and playing with pups.  I wish you your iteration of the same.  #toeachtheir

Speaking of, I recently engaged in twee-chat with a few colleagues.  The number of twitizens one follows became topic.

Alessio Madeyski  Alessio Madeyski ‏@madeale

I’m following 200 people, but you’re cool only when you follow like 64 people right?

I take my friend Alessio with a bit of salt.

Anthony Pensabene  @madeale dude.. you’re Miles Davis.. I follow 290..

But he raises a topic worth further exploration…

It got me thinking and bantering (we musn’t slouch there).  What influences the number of those followed?

Some immediate thoughts I had:

Anthony Pensabene  @nick_eubanks @dohertyjf @madeale I dig for branding/getting/giving info.. others for sales..others for one-sided reading..some for PR..

@nick_eubanks @dohertyjf @madeale …so getting at.. I guess #following probably is influenced by purpose..

So, I wanted to do some further mind mining here, with my readers as well :) .

Personal Branding

John Doherty is a solid contributor of the community.  John is a good example of using Twitter for personal branding, as well as a team member of Distilled.

John regularly participates with individuals on a personal level:

John Doherty  @content_muse thought you might like to know that my WBF is currently at 100 comments. Constructive feedback FTW!

…Must read > Why Search Marketing is about more than just marketing       http://buff.ly/OvH9Fm by @hugoguzman

…Team @distilled NYC is going to Brazilian BBQ tonight. So we’re all eating smart to stretch our stomachs so we can eat more tonight #nyclife

It seems like curtailing the number of followers is a regular occurrence among cohorts of good industry stature.  So what gives?  Is it truly ‘cooler’ to follow less?  Is it about image? Or is it about numbers?

Engaging with others is important to John.

John Doherty  @content_muse @madeale some people like to engage w/ everyone they follow. I try to keep mine under 300.

So, he considers the practicality of numbers and (I imagine) the filtration of ‘noise.’

That makes sense.  I imagine if one followed thousands of people, one also follows a massively dense stream.  It dilutes available attention of each person followed; to scale intense attention would warrant more time per session.

My most interesting friend, Bill Sebald recently wrote upon purging those followed.

As we can see, both gents keep the length of their twee-choo-choo party trains on the 300 or less side o’ the tracks.

I took notice of several other regular contributors, who host lower-than-300 counts:

There are exceptions…

Michael and Julie allow for more.  Is there is a breaking point?  Readers, weigh in on the concept.  How many people followed is too many (if you want to use Twitter for effective personal branding/contributing)?  Is there such a concept as too much?

There must be different strategies employed.  Take a look at the noticeable difference between two prominent wizards in the marketing land…

Perhaps this is up for further debate (It’s what I’m hoping for!)

Brand Sales/Promotion

Obviously each personal account will contribute in part to company-related accounts; but, I recognize handles are used differently.  For instance, an owner is likely to leverage a personal account differently than their company’s.  (In many cases, multiple people use a company account; or, the owner is not involved with the company handle at all.)

A number of company accounts are often used for sales and promotion.

Let’s consider a major brand, such as Coca-Cola.  How many people does that handle follow?

That’s a huge number.  I’m assuming the strategy here is different than above.  It’s not just focused on branding.  I would think sales and promotion is a major agenda.

The account is used for branding; but, unlike Doherty above, Coke is likely thinking differently about engagement.  From a promotional/sales perspective, the brand wants to embrace as many people as possible.

I would guess the handle actively follows others in the hopes of being followed back, assuming the more people with Coke in stream, the better Coke’s promotional hopes.

Let’s look at another major brand:

It would be tough to imagine the brands are using the handles like the cohorts observed above.  Perhaps big businesses forsake branding/personal engagement for promotion/sales?  Maybe larger companies can do such, allowing the accounts  to take an ad-like and react-only stance?

What are your thoughts?

Like in the prior section, there are exceptions.

Whether for ‘cool’ image or practical purposes, in ratio to followers, both Microsoft and Bing have a (somewhat) manageable ‘following’ stream.

Let’s pick on Microsoft.  Let’s assume maybe, for promotional purposes, the handle is following other Microsoft-related personalities and handles…

But the list of those followed looks pretty eclectic…

Of late, the follows are a bit Maxim heavy; but the two brands recently boogied down; so, it figures.  Perhaps Microsoft is being a bit more social with its social account than other big businesses?  (Maximize that social potential, Microsoft!)  Perhaps Microsoft is forgoing the promotion/sales approach, rather placing more emphasis in making better connections?

What are your thoughts?  Let’s consider, Twitter is likely to change.  Will this influence the number of followers for personalities/companies?

Finding a Fine Follower Line

There are other Twitter accounts, such as those associated to small-to-mid-sized agencies.  We can assume those handles fall somewhere on either side of the branding/promotion bank.

On one side, a handle could be used more so for promotion and sales, therefore following as many as possible, or not giving the subject much thought.  On the other hand, one interested in personal branding may need to consider ‘damming’ the Twitter stream, following less numbers and less often.

In my latest posts I explore the nature of blogger/reader engagement.  A blogger provides service.  Readers are the consumers.  The ballistics is different; but, the supplier-to-consumer relation is similar.  Consumers are extremely important.  Consumers are the basis, the cornerstone of the supplier’s operation.  Consumers matter.

  Leo Di Milo said:

..I do know that it is the little things that affect people. Like when you remember their name or can talk about a past meeting (even if it is random) or personalize the conversation with something you know about them (how\’s the wife and kids?) or even shake their hand when you have no idea where you know them from but know you have met in the past…

…But it isn\’t really about marketing, I guess. It\’s about being truly interested in people\’s lives and actually noticing them for who they are….and acknowledging them as more than \”some guy I am selling stuff to…\” \” or some girl who is going to connect me to ____\”. As you say, it\’s about truly being interested (because usually, they are interesting.)…

Like Doherty, I WANT TO ENGAGE with ALL readers (consumers).  But, it’s easy to write; that’s manageable.  I’m not Coke; nor would I ever want to be.  That’s not a lack of ambition; that’s a choice of me-to-consumer logistics.

For others, what is apropos?  Ideally, a brand needs to be super to every consumer.  But what is practical?  Can a brand such as Coke ‘be interested’ in every consumer followed?  Is Microsoft ‘neglecting’ consumers by not ‘following them back’ or better attending to those who are?  Is Bing and Microsoft being more socially savvy while ‘getting away’ (maintaining followers) with not following others?

Where is the ‘following’ breaking point?  When does branding need to bow to unmanageable numbers?  How can a brand or personality pose themselves as genuinely ‘interested’ but ‘limited’?  How ‘cool’ does a brand or people have to be to gain constant followers, but maintain a manageable number of those followed?

Do you have to be this cool?

Or cool enough to get noticed?

(I interrupt this social blog stream for a moment of self promotion…)

Thanks, DH .. “REMEMBER! WHEN YOU LOOK BACK AND SEE ONE FOOTPRINTS! YOU KNOW THAT WHEN DRUNK HULK CARRY YOU!” @drunkhulk

@content_muse YOU WELCOME!

I would love to follow as many opinions as possible in the comments.  (See what I did there?)  Let me know your thoughts.  (PS, My next post, interviewing Chris Winfield of BlueGlass is write around the corner, so stay tuned!)

Anthony Pensabene

15 thoughts on “Following: An Incredible Hulk of Branding/Promoting Consideration

  1. I’d love to follow more people but I use web Twitter only for some stupid reason. I can’t get comfortable with anything that makes it easier. For that reason, I’ve found that the 600-700 mark is about all I can do without becoming incredibly overloaded with the same information being tweeted by 50 different people. I have found that I tend to enjoy the tweeters who don’t have that many followers or follow that many people. I cannot think of a single time where I have tweeted to someone who has less than 500 followers and not gotten a response, but I can definitely point out instances where I’ve tweeted to people in the industry who have a lot of followers and not gotten a response. Actually there are a couple that I have tried to talk to a few times and gotten nothing, and hey, I know we’re all busy as heck but if a peer of mine tries to engage me several times I hope to God you won’t see me ignoring him or her.

    • Thanks for reading and commenting, Jules. Admittedly, at first I followed more people; but began snipping those I don’t talk to or hardly use Twitter (I use just about every day). There is definitely something to be said about the same tweets… If a well-respected source unleashes a piece of content, there’s a great chance a majority of followers are posting it.. to the point, I try to abstain to spare my followers redundancy…

      I definitely agree, those who don’t have too many followers seem to be tweeting more out-of-the-box. I like that. Plus, we all start from somewhere. I’ve noticed some with pretty savvy things to say, but aren’t very ‘known’ yet. I like the ability to find and share ‘fresh’ things.

      I definitely can relate to not getting a tweet back..or at least a favorite or some sign of recognition.. I suspect some twitizens are #toocoolforschool at times, but I did get a tweet back from Drunk Hulk #whosawinnernow

      Jules, you’re a good twitizen. I don’t see you leaving anyone out in the twee-cold. You’re a good example.. to the point I often inquire, “what would Joyce tweet?” #WWJT haha

  2. I got a tweet back from Jackee Harry from 227 fame. That’s almost as good as Drunk Hulk. Paul Madden and I once got tweeted to by Taylor “Tell It To My Heart” Dane too, which is a highlight of my life as I really wanted hair like hers.

    • That’s solid. I remember when Jackee got single-name-reference big Roseanne Barr style. I kinda wanna twitter-trophy case now.. The cast of Saved by the Bell, Alice Cooper, Oscar the Grouch, Count Chocula.. collect em all!

  3. Hey Anthony, glad my tweet inspired this post (even if it’s not true, I like to think this way, so leave me living my dream!).

    As I said I don’t have a fix number of people I follow. It’s true sometimes I like to unfollow people for reasons like: you’re not interacting with me, everytime I mention you you never respond, or your tweets are just paper.li things.

    So yeah, I unfollow people mainly because they don’t interact with me…I mean, I totally get it (they have no time, or they think “who the heck are you”) but twitter to me it’s all about interactions.

    Then, there are people I follow just to get information , and I don’t even mention them in my tweets.

    Another thing that is bothering me is to get the same information from 100 people on my stream…I mean, I get it’s an important information or whatever, but it’s just annoying.

    have a great day Anthony, and all the Musers as well!

    • Haha, sure at first it inspired some banter…but I really liked where your head was…it’s a great topic; and we can physically see the contrast of # of those followed between practitioners.

      I’m with you in using Twitter for interaction as well as information… There are some who have not been very interactive with me, but I enjoy reading their stream for humor/information…

      As Julie and you mention, yeah there is a lot of the same information at times… I don’t think I mind the same information (hey, I follow people in the same industry..if a good post comes out.. I assume the majority of the field will read it..) as much as it’s usually tweeted when it comes out .. so you see the same thing tweeted a bunch in concentration..

      You have a great day and rock on yourself, Alessio! Thanks as always for coming by and offering your thoughts.

      I know you love Trent.. for you.. “And when the day arrives I’ll become the sky and I’ll become the sea and the sea will come to kiss me for I am going home. Nothing can stop me now.”

  4. Personally I want to be using Twitter constructively, reading the tweets of people I’m interested in and joining in the conversation where I can. I’ve found that following any more than a couple of hundred people is pretty much unmanageable for me. Although in other niche’s (not internet marketing) you could probably get away with following many more people and still keep pace with the discussion.

    • That’s a good point, Gaz.. The heavy Twitter usage is definitely germane to our industry.. There is a point where the stream seems unmanageable and counter-productive to using it for communication and niche sharing.. I have not messed around with building lists for myself.. I don’t know if that helps or not.. Thanks for coming by, Gaz. I appreciate it!

  5. Man, I love Twitter. It doubles as the single best information source and interaction medium for my money. To that end, I can’t imagine following only 300 people. I regularly clown Rand for only following like 50 people. How does it feel to be an industry leader and like 24hrs behind all tech news? Sheesh. I need way more info at my fingertips.

    I want a LOT of different info coming in from Twitter. I’ve got a VIP search marketer group, a general search marketing group, tech news, politics, journalism, entertainment, Portland locals, food and drink, gaming, etc. I can quickly glance at any group and get a read on hundreds of things going on. I’ve spent hours and hours curating my groups to be able to keep up with everything, but it’s definitely worth it.

    I make it point to interact as best I can with any of these niches. It’s not THAT hard.

    As for the whole theme that you should keep your Twitter account as focused and useful as possible to get maximum followers, I’m not into it. I want to say dumb things and not provide USEFUL MARKETING INFO all the time. Twitter’s too awesome to spend it being a marketing article feed all the time.

    I follow 1300 currently, but it’s time for one of my quarterly reshuffles. While I will likely unfollow hundreds, I may add in a near equal amount.

    • Thanks for coming by, Matt – I appreciate that in itself.. but you raise good points and offer another perspective.. I commented hours ago about not forming lists.. your comment has me re-thinking that..

      I’ve only been using Twitter for ‘professional’ purposes.. though admittedly I enjoy not being professional all the time in my interactions.. meh, I’m human.. thank you jocose peers who make the interwebz day more interesting..

      Good thoughts, Matt.. “Twitter’s too awesome to spend it being a marketing..” word, I’d swap out Twitter with “life” too :) … thanks again for coming by, don’t be a stranga!

  6. Where is the ‘following’ breaking point? When does branding need to bow to unmanageable numbers? How can a brand or personality pose themselves as genuinely ‘interested’ but ‘limited’? How ‘cool’ does a brand or people have to be to gain constant followers, but maintain a manageable number of those followed?

    Hmmm…As Ian Lurie said in his most recent “how I use social media” video, the key to getting “real” followers who will follow you regardless of whether you follow back or not is to “matter”. And for most of us, the degrees of “mattering” aren’t very high.

    Personally, I think that the bigger the list of people you are following, the less likely you are going to engage. Rand probably engages a lot…to the people that matter to him. Everyone else who follows him gets to peer into his world…which when you think about it, could be a privilege considering the fact that he matters to so many people.

    That’s from an engagement standpoint though. Obviously COKE and microsoft have a different agenda with twitter. And even if they were able to engage with every follower, you would have to think the engagement would be somewhat hollow.

  7. I don’t mind seeing people tweet the same post in my stream. I normally take it as an indication that I ‘should’ go ahead and read it. But I normally only do when I see someone’s 60 character analysis/synopsis/opinion that I’ll go ahead and click the link.

    I wonder how many others, like me, were proud when their follower count overtook their following count? What a dumb thing to be proud of. But it was important to me at the time. Now I like to use Twitter to listen and learn from others, and pitch it when I am interested or could provide a different opinion. I can’t be bothered with lists, and like Julie, also prefer the basic Twitter web interface. Every so often when I ‘cull’ followers, I just look at their name/face and ask myself if I remember them. If not, ccchk (that’s the finger-across-neck indicating death sound).

    Good topic and interesting comments.

    • thanks for adding to the conversation, Pat. I appreciate the read and tweet. I found Matt’s suggestion of lists interesting. I guess it would be a time investment to get them established, but see how it could be very convenient and more of a learning device if ‘optimized.’ I have done the same in curtailing followers. I recently went through..and remembered why I follow each person/brand or regularly ‘communicate’ with them.. I’m at about 300 followers and know there are plenty of interesting people still to follow…

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