Success ultimately leads to one thing – criticism. Which is precisely what President Obama has been facing since the news spread that his enormous Twitter following of nearly 19 million users is comprised of 41% fake and 29% inactive accounts.
These figures were established by the new Fakers app which was built by Status People. The problem with this figure is that they openly admit that it isn’t accurate, yet news sources are more than happy to confidently report on the outcome of this app.
The Fakers app is ideal for users with under 100,000 followers; beyond that, the app can only gather data from a small sample, so the figures surrounding President Obama’s Twitter followers are absolute nonsense. It also doesn’t take into account that more popular followers will be more visible and therefore attract follower bots, through no fault of the owner.
Following the immense success of the Fakers App, Status People published a blog post warning users about the dangers of buying Twitter followers. Simply put, you can now get caught, and when you do, it can be a major embarrassment. But on the other end of the spectrum, Buy Real Marketing, a company which promises to “provide businesses the online social proof they deserve” has hit back and defended Obama saying he’s likely a victim of spam bots. They’ve also defended those who choose to buy Twitter bots, saying they “offers businesses the chance to gain traction through their roster of social media service packages”.
The act of buying Twitter followers and Facebook fans has long been considered a no-no, but could it be the right move for a start-up in the early stages of operations? Or for an individual hoping to find a larger platform for their blog?Anyone who has ever managed a social media profile from scratch will know how daunting gaining those first 100 followers can be, and then to 500, and then to 1000 and so on.
While it may be a useful short-term solution, any company or individual choosing to do this has to be aware of the ramifications. While it may be a good way to “gain traction” to start with, in the future, when you have a real following, you’ll still have a hefty lump of fake accounts that will be skewing your social media analytics. This can be particularly troublesome if you buy Facebook likes, as you won’t see an accurate view of your demographics, which is one of the things that make Facebook Pages so great.
And while buying 5000 followers might only take as long as entering your PayPal password, going through your list and blocking 5000 users will take much longer.
There’s a lot of speculation in the air about the accuracy, relevance and importance of Klout scores – people seem to be doubting the sites ability to measure influence. After all, what is influence? And can it be reduced to an algorithm. Many people are arguing that since Robert Scoble ranks higher than President Obama, the whole thing must be a sham.
What’s slightly more concerning is the suggestion that some brands are taking the importance of Klout a little too far. As Twitter becomes one of the key tools in providing a valuable link between brand and consumer, more and more brands are leaning on it to provide an extra layer of customer service. There is the concern that some customers will be ignored by brands, as their lack of perceptible influence will make them less of a priority, while more influential users will be given preferential treatment.
I like to think of this as a form of negative influence marketing, and I would argue that any brand seen doing this would see their image damaged as a result. If Klout is indeed just a ego-boost for the socially active, then basing your customer service strategy on this arbitrary number would be a huge no-no. Even if Klout is an accurate measure, there is no way of knowing if that user with an egg profile picture and 15 followers isn’t a highly influential person that doesn’t use Twitter all too often. Klout doesn’t offer any kind of insight into offline influence, meaning Robert Scoble probably isn’t more influential than President Obama.
If brands are going to use social media as a customer service tool then they have to treat each and every comment and complaint in the same way they would an anonymous e-mail. To take into consideration the social influence of a customer and then decide their priority level based on this would be a highly public way to show poor customer service.
What do you think of Klout? Useful indicator of performance? Or utter nonsense?
When President Obama went on national television and told the world he supported gay marriage, the world listened. And then the world started talking. A lot.
Twitter was ablaze as the supporters and the opposition furiously tapped across their keys and joined in furious debate about his standpoint. As the first US president in history to openly support gay marriage (or, ‘marriage’, as I prefer to call it.) he knew his words would cause a storm. The issue of gay marriage is one that divides people in ways more complex than the democrat/ republican divide.
So what can you learn from this that will help your blogging strategy and turn your words into hits?
1. Divide opinion. Never be afraid to alienate half of your audeince. If you’re writing about something you are passionate about, chances are other people will be passionate about it too. If you always shy away from the controversial, you’ll never reap the benefits of active debate and interation.
2. Take Risks. When you start out blogging you may be tempted to shadow and mimic your blogging idols. This is fine when you start out, but if you want to make a name for yourself and innovate, you’re going to have to try something new. Think about your favourite blog, what is it that you love about it? It’s probably that they’re doing something different. Take a risk, try something new.
3. Write about things people care about. Would you read anything you’re not particularly bothered about? No, so when you’re writing, think about your audience and what matters to them. As Obama has shown, dividing opinion by talking about the things people are passionate about will give you a huge amount of exposure, as far more people will be willing to share your content.
4. Allow your voice to shine through. The most important aspect of Obama’s speech was that it wasn’t a speech. It didn’t sound scripted or rehearsed. It was a topic that he believed in, and he wanted that to show by speaking his mind rather tha reading a script. When you write, let your voice shine through. Be consistent and recongisable.