The thing that's in Room 101 is the worst thing in the world - George Orwell
There are a number of absolute universal truths, including:
- My son thinking I am a genius (I know this because he asked me once whether I was and, not wanting to disappoint him, I simply nodded).
- Belgian Beer is a thing of beauty.
- Pizza is the greatest food invention of all time.
Another truth is that I'm a huge fan of Twitter. It's my favourite social media platform. In many ways it's perfect.
- The 140 character limit keeps things brief.
- It's the place for breaking news.
- It's absolutely chock full of links to useful info
- And knowledgable people
There's always a chink (or three) in the armour.
No tool is without fault and Twitter is no exception, though it's as much user error as functionality. So I'm going to highlight three particular bones of contention.
And then I'm going to send one of them to Room 101.
Direct Messages (of the automated variety)
'Thanks so much for the follow. I'm honoured. What do you use Twitter for?'
'Why, thanks for the message. I'm honoured that you picked me to DM. Personally don't use Twitter to auto-spam everyone who follows me because I'd heard that it was a, well, a 'social' network. Hello? Are you there? Hello?!'
So, I'm not a fan of the auto-DM. Let's be honest every single message I receive seems just so insincere. It has all the probity of an MP kissing a baby. Most people hate them (DMs, not babies) and many unfollow anyone who sends DMs.
Incidentally, I once received a message suggesting, 'let's connect seamlessly', which, I don't mind admitting, gave a me a sleepless night - thoughts of Human Centipede-style goings-on dancing around my terrified brain.
Since most of them are now automated, I don't think there's any way to read a direct message without affecting a Stephen Hawking voice and immediately deleting. To be honest, it's the only way to get any pleasure from them.
Can DMs escape Room 101?
There is a way to use them with purpose. They make a great customer service tool, especially for taking a conversation offline if, say, the details of the exchange are likely to feature personal data. They're also useful for group discussions or single exchanges during otherwise public conversations. Just don't automate them!
Oh, man! If I had a penny for every time I got a DM featuring the phrase, 'Clive Admin uses TrueTwit. To validate click here...', I'd have £8.47.
If you haven't heard of TrueTwit, it basically promises to stop robot followers and spam. And any fun. Ever. (though I don't think the marketing mentions this).
Have you ever tried to validate after receiving a dreaded TrueTwit DM? This isn't a one-time thing. Every single time you follow a person using TrueTwit, you'll have to complete the CAPTCHA to validate. Ok, this is no big deal as it only takes a second, but then, what if I decide to spam the person anyway with products and irrelevant messages? Sure, it stops bots, but not people. Pointless. Also, it just makes me more likely to delete the message and unfollow.
Can TrueTwit escape Room 101?
I get what it's trying to do, but it does it badly. Rather than protect the user's Twitter account, it essentially turns them into Twitter pariahs.
How can I include engagement? Surely, that's one of the main purposes of Twitter marketing!
But, let me tell you why...
So, you've written an amazing blog post (yes, much like this one. Thank you for saying ), which you're sure will engage and delight your followers. After all, you're the reason they follow you, right?
So, with a song in your heart, you compose an ace tweet with a smashing image and link that promises a pot of gold to all who click it.
This calls for a celebration!
An hour or so later, you check out the reaction to your masterpiece. Six likes, three retweets. Not bad, but you've a trick up your sleeve. You plan to post the tweet again tomorrow and then every couple of days over the next few weeks for maximum exposure.
One month later
Time for a review - yes, usually I'd review as I went along to see how things were going, but this is a story, so stop being a pedant and read on!
Plenty of retweets, lots of likes, which are less valuable but still an indication of approval. Kind of.
Let's check Google Analytics and count up the enormous number of visits to the post. Gosh, I do hope I haven't broken the tool with the sheer weight of traffic.
You see, engagement on Twitter doesn't immediately infer clicks to the website. In fact, if you think about it, engagement is pretty useless if people are retweeting without even reading the thing(!) that they're essentially endorsing by sharing or, to a lesser extent, liking.
Can Engagement escape Room 101?
So, what is the point of engagement? Well, it's a tricky one. Social media marketing experts would tell you that the more people engage with your content, the more broad its reach, the more people potentially can take action on it.
While I agree with this to a point, if these people aren't actually reading the damn thing, why bother? Why not write a great headline, with a nice image and a fake link? You'll still get the same levels of engagement and saved yourself the bother of toiling to write a fantastic blog post.
Of course, we won't do that as we may as well not bother with social media marketing at all. However, as excited as I used to be by engagement, I'm no longer convinced of its real value.
Likes are next to useless. There I've said it. How can you like something you've not experienced?
"Have you ever jumped off a cliff?"
"I haven't, but I know I'd like it."
Retweets provide greater value. As I've said, it is an endorsement (whether the post has been read or not).
But maybe I'm being a little harsh. Maybe it's an endorsement of the actual tweet. Maybe the image is selling it. Maybe my hashtaggery is world class. Maybe someone will eventually read the damn thing!
Who goes to Room 101?
It's a tough choice. I, like countless others, find Direct Messages to be at best an irritant. At its worse, when you receive countless automated DMs every day, it's almost enough to warrant an angry response.
Yet, there is value in DMs when used less as a marketing tool: 'Read my latest ebook ', and more for genuine conversation. I think that automation has taken us too far away from genuine interaction there, so there's a big issue of trust that needs addressing.
Engagement as a metric I find to be a bit tricky. It's just not as valuable as it was a few years back when measurement of success was gauged by likes and so on.
A follower liking a post basically says that the post is ok, but they're not going to share it with anyone. A retweet is more of an endorsement, but still not as powerful and valued as a comment or a click.
I have to question whether I'm doing all I can to induce my audience to click that link. The game is afoot.
But, I'm afraid it's TrueTwit that's heading to Room 101. It's the ultimate turn off when I get, not only an annoying DM, but an annoying DM asking me to validate myself. Sorry, but if you're not willing to go all in on Twitter and would rather put up barriers at the first stage of connection, then I'm afraid you're probably not going to get the best from the platform.
I've just read this post back to myself and I sound like a right misery, complaining that Likes are useless. I'm.....sorry. A bit. If you've liked any of the posts I've every published, I thank you. You're smashing. I like you, too.