Tweeters Anonymous

Hello, my name is Emily. I am addicted to tweeting.

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I started my first Twitter account a few years ago. I think I may have tweeted once or twice, but nothing much resulted of them. I followed my favorite celebrities and brands and tweeted about my day, much like a Facebook status. I really didn’t see the hype. My first Twitter account remains inactive today, as I can’t remember my original tag or password. Twitter made a lackluster first impression on me.

Little did I know, one day while studying for my MBA, I’d be hired by a fashion web site startup to become the Director of Marketing. Yes, I am a master tweeter now—And, it is my job!

Rewind a few months. Twitter was everywhere, and still is. Twitter is growing toward the future and beyond. A few months ago, I wanted to know why the world was so enthralled by the concept of sending 160 characters into the abyss of social media. I decided to construct an experiment.

I activated my 2nd Twitter account, branding it to match my e-mail address, and later my blog and LinkedIn profile. My favorite part of my name is the “J” in the middle. I think it adds sophistication and a bit of a wink with my signature. My goal of this experiment was to discover why the world was so fascinated with Twitter. I also wanted to see if branding myself – much like a company does – reaped positive results from a Twitter account. To do this, I un-followed the unnecessary celebrities, pop culture icons and reality TV stars. Then, I followed the major newspapers, magazines and news services. I added marketing firms, favorite companies and applicable publications to my feed. I started re-tweeting things that were well-written, interesting, relevant and applicable to my industry of marketing & advertising. Next, I started tweeting my favorite companies with compliments on new products and services.

Then, I started to see it.

Other tweeters started following me! I tweeted thank you mentions to each new follower with generic “How are you?” “TGIF” and basic hash tags for #business or #marketing. It became a lifestyle quickly, and I started targeting followers much like I learned in my MBA classes about targeting a customer. I noticed my engagement was waning, and I needed to “up” my game. I started replying to tweets and continuing conversations, intentionally and deliberately.

After about three to four months of semi-regular and sometimes daily,Twitter activity, I have nearly 300 followers. For an individual, and simply a student and young professional, I am pretty impressed.

I get it. Twitter is really fun. It’s a great tool. I feel connected to the world outside my own four corners, and networking seems boundless. It’s a rush to hear from a company or my favorite reporter from across the country – And sometimes the world! I’m hooked. And, now I have a job that requires me to manage our social media footprint. I am on Twitter nearly 24/7. I can only imagine what will stem from this kind of engagement.

What social media tool are you “addicted” to?

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Are We Smothering Our Customers with Social Media?

I bought a tube of lipstick on a rainy weekend afternoon. I love lipstick, and I love the store in which I bought it. But let’s be real—It’s just lipstick.

After the purchase, I was given a receipt that had an online survey to fill-out about my experience in the store and my purchase. As a former sales associate, I understand the employee bonuses are often tied to these survey results. I almost always complete these surveys, especially after a good experience. So, I filled out the brief survey with all positive marks.

Next thing I know, I’m invited to join the mailing list, follow them on Facebook and Twitter. Then, I’m encouraged to follow Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube and Photobucket for special offers.

“Hashtag our name, and you can get a free sample of face wash!”

“Like this picture, and you’ll be entered in a drawing for a $500 shopping spree!”

“RT and we will follow YOU!”

When does it all end?

As a fellow marketer, I understand where the company is coming from with their social media campaign. They want to be connected and part of the conversation with their customers.

Awesome.

There is definitely something to be said for staying current and constantly evolving with the changing times. It’s really important! And most large corporations have entire teams or task forces managing a specific and separate social media platform. In a small business, like the one I work for currently, I am pretty much it for our social media footprint. I can see from the front lines when engagement turns to smothering; however, the further the person responsible for the update on Facebook is from the customer, the further they are from seeing this change.

How do big corporations fix this?

This isn’t necessarily a problem for each corporation or business individually, but the trend has a possibility of becoming overload. It can lead to Unfollows, De-friending, Opt-Outs in e-mail blasts, or even, causing a customer to leave the business and adopt a new company.

I think we would all benefit from a minute to think about that. We don’t want to smother our customers, and for the most part, we are coming from a good place. We simply want to talk to our customers. It’s important to practice balance. Consider a balanced approach to social media. And for those big corporations with different teams managing Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest: Let’s commit to do what we intend to do. Let’s actually engage and communicate with our customers. And each other.

What companies are you following on Twitter today?