What do you think about using social media platform, Twitter?  What are the advantages?  What are brand expectations?  What’s the end?  What means are employed in getting there?  Are you gaining a lot of followers?  Are consumers impressed by the number of followers?  Is it about engagement or branding games?

I read a great post on link building.  It rang bells for me.  “The hypes come and go but one thing stays, your relationships…” says Tad Chef.  It makes a lot of sense to me.

However, being diligently observant, patrolling tweeting streams for weeks and months, I’ve noticed some maneuvers, which are not facilitating great brand-consumer relations.  Are you leveraging tweeting and mistreating?  I hope not.

The Back-Turned Un-follow

Brands have freedom leveraging Twitter accounts.  Follow and un-follow at will.  Sometimes the un-follow makes sense; a follower may turn into a troll, with negative intentions.  They can be un-followed, blocked, or reported.

What brand of tunes resound from your tweeting?

However, some brands follow others for the sole purpose of improving onlooker perception.  Surely, if your brand has a lot of followers, it must be highly authoritative, right?  We see the same genuine dynamic take place in the SERPs, correct?  That was sarcastic.

Just as brands ‘game’ rankings, some attempt to game the number of followers, liberally following others, hoping the ‘golden rule’ is returned, only to ironically drop followers to increase the contrast between those following and followed.

Tweet at will; you’re entitled.  However, think about this.  What’s more powerful, a number of followers or how your brand engages followers, people, (possible) consumers?

‘Thanks for the Follow’ Spam

When someone thanks me, I assume they’re expressing genuine gratitude.  I hardly get a real-life friend approach me with a handshake, thank me for my friendship, and then parlay the scenario into asking me to be a part of some pyramid scheme.  I’m not making any blind assumptions about your brand; but, if you really want to express gratitude then offer something other than an advertisement for your services.

Warning: shameful use of cute dog to prove point ahead

Would your brand truly like to thank followers?  Rather than establish automated, spam-like, ‘thanks for the follow’ messages, offer your best blog post, a free white paper, a list of great resources, etc.  It could even be as simple as link to a funny video, post, quote, or infograph.  Have you seen what PointBlankSEO does when you sign up to his RSS?  It’s unique, making one feel appreciated.

The High-Brow No Reply

So your brand has stepped into the social media ring of Twitter.  Note the use of ‘social’ in the description.  Have you snubbed followers with a high-browed, stone-faced reply?  Please allow me to place such maneuvers in a real-life setting.  It’s kind of akin to entering a conversation, consisting of a number of people (like being in a social sphere, if you will).  Imagine you’re engaged in a social media platform, asking someone a question or making a comment, and having them…say nothing back as if you are some ‘ghost twitterer.’  Do you do that in real life?  It must be lonely in your world.

I understand people use Twitter for all sorts of selfish reasons; yet, ensure your brand is being social when using social media accounts.  I referenced treating followers well in my gentleman branding post yesterday.  Make time for followers; kindness is a timeless fashion.

 

 

 

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How would you like to save marketing dollars by getting your brand valued within its community?  Wait.  The gentleman branding process doesn’t work for every person or brand.  There’s something I would like to point out to business people, regardless of your industry.  There’s one aspect which all of the online marketing, SEO, social media, black/white-hat tactics can’t offer your company…personality.  I try to pass on sentiments of great people and branding onto readers; but, I honestly can’t ingrain or grant character; that’s the man-in-the-mirror’s job.

Gentleman Branding?

I liken gentleman (or woman) branding to white and black-hat sentiments.  White-hat and black-hat are adjectives rooted in the SEO industry.  The former label is associated to ethical practices while the latter gets practitioners thinking of questionable and unscrupulous practices.  Let’s be honest.  I can’t definitively determine your brand’s intentions; but, mama didn’t raise a fool.  I’m pretty people savvy, even online.  After some time, I see your brand and associated personalities…as they are; so do your brand followers and consumers.  Are you leveraging me or my brand for ulterior purposes?  I hope not.  Doing so sheds different colored lights on you and your company’s image.  Don’t be a fool; consumers and cohorts discuss such impressions.

Support Brand Evangelism

PointBlankSEO aka Jon Cooper posted earlier today on this topic.  His article contains good insight about appreciating consumers and brand champions (whether they’re paying or non-paying supporters).  Does your brand or content attract a particular sub group of followers, ones who usually comment, tweet, follow, like, speak well of, and engage in all of those other behaviors, which give your brand the ‘warm fuzzies’?  How does your brand show appreciation?  As Jon addresses, noticing those who notice you makes for a better community and facilitates branding.  Another Jon, Jonathan Allen of Search Engine Watch, does a great job of appreciating SEW’s brand followers and ‘evangelists.’  Take notice of the Twitter handles of Jonathan Allen and SEW, and how fans and brand supporters are appreciated and addressed.

Lend a Helping Hand

It’s highly likely there are other personalities within your brand’s space.  Those who could use help understanding the industry as well as tactics and best practices.  Company owners and practitioners, remember when you were younger, doing something mischievous, having your parents remind you that you are a reflection on them? (I hated that one; I was a toddler outlaw)  The same holds true in the professional sphere.

What professionals do, how they act, is a reflection on their brand.  Let’s give another real-life example.  I had a genuine, professional question, and asked for help.  Why did I ask Chris specifically?  He knows his stuff for one; more importantly (to me), he genuinely wants to help.  I’ve asked others for help, getting no response whatsoever.  The ‘no responsers’ still have my respect as far as knowledge of the industry; I’m not really sure of their trains of logic, but that’s why they were asked to begin with.  What do you think I think of their personalities and their brand after asking for help and getting ignored?  Kindness is a timeless fashion…

 

 

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Are you being smart with social media usage?  Wake up!  There is a whole social world going on within the Web each day. Workers, cohorts, and potential clients leverage Facebook, Twitter, and other popular social media sites on a regular basis.  I myself am a big fan of Twitter.  The online marketing industry is very active on the platform.  I regularly catch blog posts I previously had not read, get great insights from peers, and meet new and knowledgeable personalities.

I’m a keen observer.  I’ve been watching some brands on Twitter.  I’ve observed notions I like and dislike but enjoy being positive; so, here are some things I see working well; you may consider integrating the following into your online marketing endeavors.

Cadbury
I’ve been observing the Cadbury’s social media usage since January.  I think the brand is doing an awesome job of engaging followers through clever and fun wordplay.  I’m an all-day-sucker for sweet wordplay.  Cadbury UK first caught my attention during its “Goo Games.”  (Yes, the brand created the meme, #googames too).  Followers were tweeting examples of competition suggestions for the Goo Games:

@CadburyUK The high dive: some spectators were egging Shelly on but others were gooing her off the board. Nonetheless, she decided to goo.

The Cadbury-brand Twitter handle was ‘egging’ followers on:

Thanks for your egg-cellent #GooGames suggestions, keep ‘em coming! – From Cadbury UK Twitter account

Lately, I’ve noticed the Cadbury brand leveraging more Twitter handles.  I’m pretty sure it’s going to make for more re-tweeting and consumer engagement.

Blue Glass
Many people in online marketing know about the Blue Glass brand due to its consulting and promotion excellence.  Lately I’ve noticed Blue Glass employee and associate avatars.

Thanks! RT @content_muse@blueglass IMO has crafty on/offsite avatars (branding) – you immediately recognize their crew- nicely done

In essence, the company is branding itself and its members, making them immediately recognizable on the Twitter platform, ushering the recognition and respect the company has built along with them.  Great job of branding your social media accounts, Blue Glass!

Sugar Rae
Rae Hoffman-Dolan is an online marketing veteran who uses her online knowledge to help clients and charity.  At present, she is reaching out via Twitter to recruit more people to donate attention and funds to a Heart Walk donation page.  I personally champion the sentiment and those of others who use their businesses and personalities to spread awareness and goodwill.  PointBlankSEO (Jon Cooper) and Rand Fishkin (SEOmoz) are two brands/personalities I’ve noticed contributing to charity as well.

Do you have more ideas?  Have you made your own observations?  I would love to hear about them in the comments.

 

 

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I still have growing to do; I’m only thirty-two (thirty-three next week; send b-day sentiments to Anthony Pensabene, Web Office box Twitter, USA.)  This may seem immature but money isn’t everything to me.  I feel some of you sneering; we’ll have to agree to disagree.  From a business branding point of view, I think providing exceptional service holds more value than immediate income.  As a consumer, I shop by a golden rule; make me feel valued and I will value your brand.  It seems simple to me.  What seems more lucrative to you, showing your brand’s money-making or service-oriented skills?  We know what holds more value for your target market.  You know them, the ones whose favor your entire business depends upon…

The Extra Yard
Executives want their business to run smoothly.  Unfortunately, reality trumps such business decisions at times.  When something goes wrong during business day-to-day, reputation management becomes a part of branding.  Address reparations for your customers; think about the approach because it could influence your ongoing reputation.

I recently purchased a larger-sized home implement from a furniture store.  I was told by the store employee (I addressed the situation beforehand because it seem curious it would fit) that when I came to collect it, there would be no qualms fitting it in my Jeep Wrangler.  Okay, math and spatial computation is not my forte; I leave it to the experts.  I came; it was too large; employees expressed distaste with me (because I brought my Jeep); and, we were all left at a standstill.  “What can your brand do for me?”  I thought it was a good question.  I was told (for an additional charge) I could rent their truck and drive it to my place.  Could the store have done a better job branding, going the extra yard for a consumer (who was inconvenienced due to following store direction)?

Spot Clean Transparency
How transparent is your brand?  Some brands feel that keeping some facts closer to the breast, may garner more cents.  Do such maneuvers make sense?  After you squeeze a few more dollars and cents from consumers, is it worth the long-term impression?

Last month, I was largely excited to purchase a smartphone.  I read a lot and thought the mobile device would allow me to evade newsstand costs and read at convenient times and places.  What I clearly didn’t understand (nor was it addressed at the time of purchase or agreement signing) was the incurred charges to come.  I got my first bill, which is ridiculously priced.  I understand, providers; it’s my job as a consumer to read and understand.  But seriously, providers are contorting this way and that to produce the ‘next best technology.’  You can’t send an email or alert when I exceed my allotment?  It seems to be okay to send commercially-driven emails and alerts…  Do you think it is better branding practice to clearly illustrate charging processes or adopt a buy-at-your-own-risk philosophy?

It’s ALL Your Department
I understand companies house a variety of practitioners.  As admitted above, I’m not your numbers guy.  However, something I learned from my time as a teacher – help people find the answer.  The resolution to a particular concern may lie beyond a respective department; but, as far as customer service, the company is one department.  Branding consists of the minutest exchanges with consumers.

I was recently on the phone with a cable provider.  It seems I’m dealing with a “unique situation.”  Okay, I understand.  I invested at least twenty minutes with a service provider until they called shenanigans on the entire conversation, admitting they could not help, transferring me to another “department.”  When the other service provider picked up, they were annoyed at my annoyance in having to explain my “unique situation” a second time to the same service provider.  Could the company use some branding troubleshooting?

 

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Too cool!  I gained some new Twitter followers due to my sweet tweeting.  Should I follow them back?  Well, let me see ‘how popular’ they are first; surely, I can’t be seen walking the halls of Twitter, following those who aren’t cool; I wouldn’t be making a good impression. That rationale worked(?) in high school; it can work in the professional world too, right?  I don’t think so.

I frequently pass by McDonald’s.  I think the brand served enough people to provide every soul on the planet with (at least) three meals per day for a week.  I’m impressed (using the marketing meaning of the term only).  McDonald’s is kind of a big deal, yet not in my life.  I think I was donning my little league baseball uniform the last time I (purposely) headed the brand’s way (1991?)

But who am I to speak upon McDonald’s?  The long-standing brand has over 360,000 Twitter followers ( I only have about 250).  If you were passing me by on Twitter, you may feel ‘too cool for school’ to follow me.  Only 250? Pfft.  However, you may be impressed by those with many ‘followers.’  Who provides better value to their community?  I think it depends on how a brand wants to ‘impress’ you.

Twitter is a leveraged social media implementation of the online marketing world.  I’m an online marketing professional as well as a consumer.  Being in the former party helps me make ‘educated’ decisions as a part of the latter group.  As an online marketer, I provide my readers insight gained from my experiences.  Hopefully, the following information helps you make better sense of Twitter from a consumer and brand perspective.

As an Online Marketing Consumer
As an online-marketing consumer, I encourage readers to employ better diligence when shopping for providers.  Don’t be immediately impressed by followers, numbers, press mentions, and advertising.   Marketing companies are comprised of marketers, those who make a living making impressions (both varieties).  I referenced Dr. Pete’s work (under ‘being new’ column) in a former copywriting post.  He draws reader attention to the difference between search-engine visibility and conversions.  Impressions don’t guarantee impressed (the better kind) visitors and consumers.  Make sure brands garnering cosmetic results (a lot of Twitter followers, search-engine rankings, Facebook friends) are delivering services worthy of the ‘impressions.’  I assure you; the two are not one in the same.  Many online marketing shoppers make mistakes because of it.

As a Brand Using Twitter
A few months ago, statistics were released regarding how consumers approach social media.  Some local businesses may have been surprised to find a high number of consumers were merely interested in coupons and upcoming deals rather than brand engagement.  Perhaps your brand only wants to use Twitter for impressions (the marketing kind).  That’s for your brand to decide.  I would suggest doing more with it for branding and reputation management purposes; but, take my advice with a grain of salt; I only have 250 followers.

I ask all readers to understand the difference between initiating online impressions and making a genuine impression on your target market.  As a consumer, you just don’t want to notice a brand’s impressions; you want to know if a brand beholds the services to truly impress you.  As a brand, do you just want to be noticed?  You want your brand to build a community who values your brand, right?

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“I want it now!”  Ugh, Veruca Salt, she was a rotten egg if I ever observed one (fact or fictional).  Are you being a brat in regard to online marketing traction?  Be truthful.  I will.  I don’t need a direct quote from my mom to tell readers I’ve had a history of being a little bratty.  I was an only child; give me some understanding.  As I matured, I’ve come to (most of the time) understand, patience is a virtue…both off and online.

 

 

If you’re reading this, it’s likely online marketing strikes your fancy.  What brand (startup, mid-size, gargantuan) doesn’t want to make it big…STAT?  (Did you know the medical term, STAT, stands for sooner than immediately?  I used to teach writing and English).  It’s taken some advice from industry sources to help me stay patient.  You better watch your speed too!

 

 

Know what else I really didn’t like doing as a younger man?  Listening to my elders.  Hey, what can I say?  I was a brat; such actions come with the appellation.  Dr. Pete of SEOmoz gave fatherly advice yesterday to new people on the search optimization scene.

It’s all great advice, especially the notion of “doing something.”  If you’re being bratty, I’ll assume you’re doing something; but, maybe it’s not enough.  Perhaps you’re spending too much time in your own brand’s chocolate factory.  Get out some more.  Have you thought about influencer marketing?  Eric Enge thinks you should (Don’t lend him a bratty ear either; his insight will only help you.)

Patience, doing things the slow/steady way, and making influential connections, helped one modern-day artist flourish.  I came across a WSJ article today, featuring a German artist, Gerhard Richter.  Richter did some paintings in the 1980s.  He waited.  He waited some more.  He saw no traction.  Not one, single painting sold.  (Admittedly, I’d get a little bratty, Gerhard.)  Let’s fast forward to modern times, where the tenacious artist sold one portrait for $16.5 million.  The WSJ’s Kelly Crow recognizes, “Few people can pinpoint the moment when an artist becomes iconic in the way of Pablo Picasso or Andy Warhol, but right now the art world is trying to anoint Mr. Richter.”

Read the WSJ article.  Mr. Richter’s career is a testament of patience.  He was ‘kind of a big deal’ in Germany, but as the article showcases, the real turning point in his career did not come until 1995.  I know; Anthony, my company can’t wait decades to make it big.  I understand.  Don’t take the notion literally; what I wanted to bring to light was the patience-leading-to-possible-domino-effect phenomenon.

 

 

Let’s revisit Dr. Pete’s advice.  He says do something then talk (or as I would like to think about it – then be worthy of conversation).  Do you want it now!?  Well, take it from a bona fide brat; such impatient yearnings are going to get your brand into trouble, take influence on your reputation, and have many (consumer and cohorts included) weighing and measuring your company.  Guess what happens to bratty, rotten eggs?