Recently I had a friend “follow” me on one of my twitter accounts. Basically, one of the dozens of twitter accounts I apparently have out there. And my first thought was: “Really?”
“Really?” as in, how many forms of social media do we really need? I, obviously, can not keep up.
My little path to becoming the social media conquistador, that I so obviously am (insert gut wrenching laugh), started with MySpace.
Everyone was on MySpace. You just had to be on MySpace. “We’re all doing it.” It felt really narcissistic to me, and I really didn’t want to join. But a co-worker of mine literally set up my account for me and was like: “See! It’s going to be so awesome.” So I became a MySpacer, and I’d love to say I had all the freedom in the world to truly “express myself” on MySpace, but because I had co-workers on there as my “friends” I had to edit my posts so as to not offend, aka: get fired. And needless to say I couldn’t use the F word, which is pretty much my favorite word on the planet.
So I’m on MySpace, and I have to admit, it was kind of fun.
· I photo-shopped a bunch of pictures of myself so that I looked like a super model
· I accepted friendship requests from old high school “friends” that never gave me the time of day when we were actually in high school (resentment?)
· I looked at all my friends pictures and wondered why my life wasn’t as good as theirs
· I asked myself why I hadn’t travelled as much as they had.
· I felt bad about myself because I didn’t own as many cars/houses/insert-material- items-here, as they did.
· I wondered what was wrong with me because I wasn’t married with a house in the suburbs, owned an SUV, and had 2.3 kids. (I really wouldn’t want a .3 kid anyway, I’d at least want a whole kid)
· I’d read fascinating status updates about what people had for breakfast.
· I’d look at incredibly cute pictures of dogs in sweaters.
· I’d keep up with what my friends were doing in their daily life (I recently saw a picture of a quilt my old high school friend had made. A quilt? Exactly when did we turn 85?)
· And I accumulated 400+ “friends” (most of which were really just acquaintances)
So, truth be told, I kind of hated MySpace, just like I figured I would. But like most of us, I was addicted. I guess there was some part of me that really did care what you had for breakfast, and totally wanted to see a picture of it. And I did actually like that I’d find out about a party or an event that was going on, or when someone’s birthday or anniversary was coming up. And I could keep up on the news, by “liking” things like the San Francisco Chronicle or the Wall Street Journal and that was cool.
And then: facebook. Same thing different space. I do recall everyone talking about committing “MySpace Suicide” and switching over to facebook. I never thought I’d do it, but I switched over too. I guess I must have felt lonely when my cat pictures weren’t getting any comments.
AND THEN: Twitter.
Ugh.* Another way to communicate with the world. Another outlet where I could read about how awesome your commute to work was this morning. Another avenue of narcissism. Blah. Blah. Blah. (my second favorite word)
*don’t worry, I’m not oblivious to the business benefits of these outlets, I’ll get to them. I just like being dramatic.
I didn’t get on board with Twitter for a very long time. I’m talking like, less than a year ago. I didn’t get it. If I wanted to tell the world about how cute my Winnie the Pooh jammies were, and post pictures of them, why wouldn’t I just do it on facebook? Why did I also need to do it on twitter?
And then I got it. (insert light bulb above head)
I could be totally anonymous on twitter and not so anonymous on facebook. AND I could have more than one twitter account. One that was rated G and one that was rated NC-17. (please refer back to paragraph three where I speak to my love of a certain word)
And THAT was awesome.
And so I created a whole bunch of twitter accounts. I’d create one and decide I didn’t like the name. I’d create another and decide my tweets weren’t “clean” enough. I’d create another one and get paranoid that my security settings weren’t private enough. And I just got really lost in it all, until I finally settled on one twitter account. Downloaded the app to my iPhone, and have been using that account for the past year. It kind of started off as a “professional” venue to talk about the news, or what was going on in the world of advertising, or politics, and it still does a lot of those things, but mostly, it’s just a way for me to vent to only those friends I chose to be twitter buddies with. But….
But so many prospective employers, when asking for my portfolio also want to see my twitter, my facebook, my blog, etc. etc. And some of these things are fine to show. But, am I not allowed to have a twitter account that I don’t want a prospective employer to see? Or post things to facebook without worrying about if what I’m saying is going to be ok with “the man?”(no, I do not own any tie dyed t-shirts) Should I not be free to say anything I want as long as I’m not hurting anyone in the process? And should these things not be required from future employers?
I think so.
But to appease prospective employers, I recently (yesterday) set up a second twitter account. A twitter account that I can put on my business cards, and act like a grown-up with. The only problem is: it’ll take at least a year for my twitter feed/followers to build up enough to actually be of any significance. Until then: as far as most are concerned: I don’t have a twitter account. Unless of course you’re reading this. Then you’re probably on to me.
So how does business tie into all this. I found out when I worked in the social media department at a local non-profit. People could “like” your company on facebook and get the latest updates on what the company was up to, get special access to offers, get linked to current news media in relation to the business, see informational videos about the business (such as “how-to” or interviews with the CEO) and connect with the organization by asking questions and getting real time answers. People could basically personally connect with the company and be entertained and informed by the business they are a part of, or interested in becoming a part of.
Twitter offered a lot of the above but with one big caveat. You don’t have to “friend” the business to get connected. All you have to do is be @’d.
For example: If someone went to your business, or interacted with them in some way, and thought it was like, super awesome, they might twitter something like: (with the handle “yummyinmytummy”)
@joeshmoeswafflehouse You rule so hard! Hands down, those were the best waffles I ever had!
And their friend, @peanutbutterjellytime sees the twitter and totally agrees and re-posts with a comment of their own.
@joeshmoeswafflehouse You rule so hard! Hands down, those were the best waffles I ever had! @yummyinmytummy I totally agree! Their chicken fried steak is even better!
So, not only did all the friends of @yummyinmytummy see the post, so did all the friends of @peanutbutterjellytime
And this could go on and on, and before you know it, 15,000 people just got hit with a little slice of Joe Shmoe’s Waffle House and you, Joe Shmoe, didn’t pay one dime for advertising.
Twitter basically takes “word-of-mouth” to a whole new level.
But what if @lamppost says something more negative like:
@joeshmoeswafflehouse I found a fly in my pasta! And you didn’t give me my money back!
And another person re-posts with a complaint of their own. All of a sudden 15,000 people have heard about the fly, and the bad service, and how no one should ever eat at Joe Shmoes Waffle House ever again.
Well, you can respond personally, and in real time. For example:
@lamppost sorry you had such a bad experience. We’d love to talk to you more and see if there is something we can do. Please email me personally at: email@example.com
It’s possible @lampost will email you back. You can then privately* offer a $50 gift certificate and hope that s/he gives your restaurant another shot and tweets about how nice and personable you were.
*if you were to publicly say: “@lampost sorry you had such a bad experience, we’d like to give you a $50 gift certificate” it sounds like a bribe. It’s also against the “rules” to say anything along the lines of: “make sure to twitter your amazing experience with us.” This same rule applies to Yelp. You can’t really ask people to write a good review for you, especially if you’re offering them a free meal, or even cold hard cash. It will look like a bride to other social media users. A bribe is a bribe is a bribe.
Twitter and Yelp pretty much fall into the same categories when it comes to your being able to respond to your customers. facebook (I’ll assume you don’t want to be on LonelySpace) is a way for you to not only respond to your customers, but to connect with them on multiple levels through other types of media.
In my humble opinion this is how social media can actually make you cash monies, for virtually no investment. It will of course, cost you a social media department to constantly monitor and respond to twitter feeds, and facebook, and yelp. But if you’re not up for hiring an entire department you can take advantage of a new crop of companies that have popped up (Radian 6, Infegy) that will monitor your social media for you.
In conclusion: social media rules so hard, just make sure you don’t use the F word too much. It’s really bad for business, unless your name is Denis Leary. And if it is, you’re also free to use the word asshole.