By Mel Brooks
As active managers of our clients’ social media accounts, we have looked at over a thousand small and medium sized business (SMME) Twitter accounts. And we have noticed that although these accounts have been opened, it is clear that most have become dormant: if you have not tweeted in three months you are effectively not on Twitter. In fact, if you have not tweeted in a week, you may as well not be using the medium.
There are, however, some SMMEs that do tweet – but this is often what happens:
- Tweet schedulers that mindlessly pump out commercial messages have been set up. Many of these will not inspire potential customers to follow a link or make contact. Few, if any, other messages that contain useful content is ever
SMMEs are attracted to Twitter because it is free, and then the social-media box can be ticked. However, the production of good content is not free: it is time consuming and labour intensive to be produced in-house. An alternative is to outsource the provision of content.
Enter the “digital” agency. The production of content is often outsourced to entities where a “techie” is tasked with the job – someone who knows the medium rather than the client’s business. But, the production of quality content requires a knowledge of the business itself and the industry in which it operates, in addition to marketing and advertising. These then need to be packaged via excellent writing skills.
At Cambial Communications, we have seen that good content can make a big difference (See: Social media, content is king). Here are three examples:
This twitter account was run by a digital agency from October 2011 to January 2013. Over the 16 months, the number of followers had grown to 620. After taking over the account in February 2013, we had grown the following to over 6,500 in only eight months. There is a high level of the useful-content tweets in addition to promotional tweets. Enquiries are regularly received in addition to the interaction which takes place. This client’s Klout score is consistently higher than that of its competitors.
For this client we adopt a “follow-back” policy (see: To follow back or not? That is an important question)which has contributed to the high level of interaction of its followers who feel they are being listened to and also accounts for the high level of retweets received.
This client is a professional consultancy which is owner managed. The production of content was not a problem but time was. A short-term intervention was needed to grow the follower base and provide assistance with content. As a result the number of followers grew from 227 to over 9,500 in a five-month period.
We acquired this new client with less than 200 followers and we doubled the following in the first three days. However, growing followers for this client will take time as it has specific requirements for its follower base: they need to be either potential clients, or those that offer a route to reach potential clients. The point is that obtaining masses of followers is not an end in itself – one needs appropriate followers.
In each instance, we have grown the following organically: we are strictly opposed to the buying of followers. Businesses should be on Twitter to establish and grow their brands in the social-media area, to listen to their market and, more importantly to generate revenue. It is also important to note that managing a Twitter account is not simply a case of chasing followers, far more important is the quality of those followers, their level of influence and the extent of interaction and engagement generated.
Getting assistance to able you to get the maximum benefit from your social media activities is a challenging task – but the getting right assistance will produce benefits well in excess of the fees involved.
Do you have any stories to share of wasted opportunities on Twitter accounts? We'd love to hear them
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From the desk of Gillian Findlay
Economist, data translator, communicator and fascinated by the world around us.