May 272013

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Dr. Earl R. Smith II

A couple of weeks ago I was involved in a coaching session with a new client. This person is a middle management executive in his early forties. The details of his past or the focus of our work together don’t matter – except for one item. We had begun to talk about social media and its usefulness in developing a virtual presence and expanding his branding footprint. The conversation led us to call up the various social media accounts that he was managing. Superficially it appeared that things were fine. He had expanded presence on a number of important sites. But when we started drilling down the proverbial wheels started to fall off.

Isn’t that Tweet?

We started with his twitter account. He had several thousand followers. When we called up the list of followers, several patterns became immediately noticeable:

  • Stop-sending-money-to-the-scammersAdvertising for Scammers: The list contained a large number of what can only be termed ‘are you stupid enough to fall for this crap’ followers. Most of these offered to increase his following for a payment of money. True, there are always people moronic enough to trade their personal data for a raft of meaningless, temporary followers but this was not the point. I put it this way, “Every one of the Tweets that these people post show up in your feed and all of your followers see them. By forwarding them, you are saying ‘this is something that you, my followers, ought to see. You have set yourself up as an advertising agency for scammers. What does that say to your followers about you?” I could tell that the question set him back a bit. It had never occurred to him that people who followed him saw his time-line feed and would come to some judgments about him based on that experience.
  • What Language is That: The second pattern was the presence of lots of followers who were posting in a language that he clearly did not speak. Now, I welcome the diversity of Twitter and the inclusion of many cultures but what’s the point of having and forwarding followers you can’t understand? What does that say about your definition of ‘followers’? My friend’s feed was full of all sorts of strange looking characters making words that neither he nor I could translate.
  • Not This Kind Of Hooker!

    Not This Kind Of Hooker!

    Hookers and Halfwits: A third pattern could be found in his feed. Remember, this is a reflection of who he associates with and the kind of Tweets he approves of. After all, it’s his feed! What does it say about him if that feed is full of women with their breasts hanging out, cursing adolescents and people ranting about their own particular crusade? He was, after all, promoting their tweets by including them in his feed.

  • Paranoia on Parade: The forth pattern was the use of a ‘validation’ service to identify ‘validated accounts’. Most people who use these obscenities have little experience in responding to their requests. One in particular ‘filter’ has sold ads which they use as validation questions. So you get to praise the advantages of this service or that product before your account can ‘validated’. Two points here. First, given the amount of crap accounts on Twitter, how effective do you think this kind of bush league screening is? And second, what does it say about you and your attitude towards people who might want to follow you? “Here nice doggie, jump through this demeaning hoop!”

OK, I’ll stop at four. I figure you get the picture. If you don’t, five won’t help. I will add that, after my friend took a close look at his Twitter feed, major changes occurred. He found that one out of four or five tweets in his feed were from scammers selling followers. About ten percent were in a language he didn’t speak or read. (It did occur to him that he had no way of telling what these people were saying) There was also a heavy smattering of hookers and halfwits. He stopped using the validation service. Then came the great purge. He blocked over two hundred accounts outright and un-followed hundreds more. New follows had to make sense. The days of building an ever-higher trash pile were over.

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