The Unfollowers, or The Super Annoying Trend of Following Just to Unfollow

I recently tried a marketing lesson thing that was supposed to unlock some sort of magical secret to using Twitter effectively and growing your audience. The main lesson I got out of it:

1) Follow a bunch of people

2) Unfollow them if they don’t follow you back

3) Repeat

It got more detailed than that of course, and there were some good tips for someone just starting out on targeting your market. But this seemed to be the core curriculum, and I just don’t agree with the method. It just seems a little silly, childish even. “I’ll follow you only if you follow me back!” And it’s not just Twitter. This happens a lot on Instagram too.

I follow people because I’m interested in their stuff. I’m not going to stop following someone unless they just post irrelevant content I’m not interested in. Likewise I’m not going to follow someone just because they followed me.

Will this method gain you lots of followers really fast? Yes, probably. Will these people necessarily care what you are writing? Probably not. Pretty sure the German DJ and air conditioner place that followed me yesterday aren’t interested in my potty training stories. But they are interested in my follow back.

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Storytellers, The Secret Behind Brand Success

seceret to brand successWord-of-mouth has always been the most valuable tool for generating brand success, but how do you get people talking about your brand? When I worked in promotions marketing 15 years ago, we relied heavily on street teams handing out fliers, samples and coupons. I worked in San Francisco and it seemed like every street corner in Union Square had somebody trying to hand you something. In recent years, those promo people are scarce, as companies focus more on getting their product into the right hands vs. wasting a lot of product with a mass sampling campaign.

So where did those street teams go? They got off the street and onto the information superhighway as social media started carving out a niche once only occupied by advertising and celebrity endorsements. We are living in an age of “If you tweet it, they will come.” And if they really like it, they will retweet and like and share and create a snowball effect with a reach much farther than you could pay for, and it all happens with the perfect story.

Nancy Behrman, founder and president of PR firm Behrman Communications, operates her company on the principle that the success behind every brand is an authentic well-told story. PR pros like Behrman are regularly seeking out media influencers to be part of those stories and share them.

Every brand has a story, and every story needs a good storyteller to really bring it to life. It’s not about just tweeting a one line ad or putting a photo of a product on Instagram and calling it a day. It’s about crafting a story and showing how that product pertains to everyday life. The story has become so central to our communication that Snapchat, Instagram and now even Facebook have stories options for when just one photo won’t do.

Blog posts are the perfect platform for presenting this story, but it takes a personal experience to weave a tale around a product and take it a step beyond just a plain product review. When it’s done well, you’ll have a story that draws in the audience, holds their attention, and hangs in their memory long after they’ve finished reading. That’s where the success lies, making an impression that lasts longer and goes deeper than an unwanted flier left on a windshield or an easily forgotten street sample.

* Post sponsored by Behrman Communications *

I Sold My Soul for a Free Pillow

sleep number pillowIt’s all fun and games until you turn it into work, and that’s exactly what I did when I signed up for this mission from Smiley360 and Sleep Number. I was having fun, sampling stuff left and right, but high on the prospect of free goodies I took on too much and that was my downfall.

I’m cool with the usual free stuff requirements – a blog or video and a few social shares. Something totally natural that you can work in without bugging people and looking like you totally sold out. And then, lured in by the promise of a free $90 pillow, I accepted the invitation to join the Sleep Number campaign.

Here’s what they want:

  1. Visit a Sleep Number store and get your number
  2. Share a photo to Facebook 4 times
  3. 2 Ad tweets
  4. 4 Photo shares to Twitter
  5. 2 Comments on Smiley360
  6. Report on sharing with 10 people face-to-face
  7. 2 Posts on Pinterest
  8. 2 Posts on Instagram

Visiting the store is quite a time investment for a busy mom. I was lucky they had a little Lego table set-up, but there were moments the toddler was zooming around the store squealing.

But the real killer is the social shares. One Facebook post, OK. People actually paid attention and posted their Sleep Number and it was kinda fun to see. But again and again…I’m probably losing friends and credibility with every post. Most of the time I feel like nobody is paying attention on Twitter so I loaded up my feed with as many tweets as I could.

And then this happened: In my rush to get it done, I tagged CrowdTap instead of Smiley360 and my posts were rejected! So not only did I already bug everybody, but I was going to have to do it AGAIN if I wanted to complete my mission. I had gone this far for the darn pillow, I wasn’t going to let it go, so I did it with an added apology to friends that I had let this happen.

I’m still waiting to see if my last posts were accepted, so fingers crossed. This better be the most wonderful damn pillow in the world. (and maybe I will post a photo of it because I Want to this time)

Getting my number at the Sleep Number store
Now give me my fancy pillow!