People use social media and social networking for various reasons and levels of effectiveness. I like to use these channels as ways of opening up two-way communications and dialogs, rather than one-way blasts (search many of the past posts here and you’ll see what I’m talking about). Recently, though, I’m seeing people follow me on Twitter that use it for one-way communications. There are no hard-and-fast rules to Twitter – again, people can do with it what they may. But if you follow many of the people who understand the social media space (like Chris Brogan, CC Chapman, Todd Defren), you’ll quickly learn that it’s really about fostering two-way communications, and not a one-way blast.
Case in point: I saw in my inbox two different Twitter IDs following me in the past few days. When someone starts to follow me, I go through a mini-routine (note: I don’t auto-follow, but do follow most who follow me; look at my Twitter ratio). I look at their number of followers, followees (I know, that’s not really a word), number of tweets, their bio, and then the first page of recent tweets. The numbers aren’t that important to me, though I do look. What is important is the bio (do they talk about something that I will find compelling or interesting?) and the summary of their latest tweets (what are they saying out there?).
I’m not using this as a platform to call anyone out, but there is no way I am going to follow back the two Twitter IDs in the links above. If you take a moment to look at their recent tweets (at the time of this posting, August 4, 2009), it’s all the same message, just regurgitated over and over again. In fact, one uses the same tinyurl link.
Why do I mention this? Because I think Twitter and other social networking and social media channels are fundamentally about connecting to people on an individual level (as much as can be expected). Sure, you can’t have a one-on-one conversation with all of your customers (it would be great if you could), so you need to use new ways of engaging them. Using the same canned message over and over again is the 2.0 version of a bullhorn.
(image source: http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/JvBb_FGT7Bs1ryp7Ad-tUA)