Fantasy Animals, Pets and Pretzels More Popular Than Businesses

If you frequent the “twittersphere” or Facebook you’ll often come across businesses and their staff trying to market their products and services to you.

There’s nothing wrong with that. Of course, how they actually do it is another matter entirely …

But how successful are most of their attempts to “tap in” to “social media” and “maximise” their “potential”?

You’d have to wonder at times, especially when you look at how few “fans” or “followers” some of them actually have.

Fantasy animals, however, manage to get a reasonably respectable following..

Common Unicorn, for example, has over 1400 followers on Twitter and is listed 50 times:

Twitter's "Common" Unicorn

Twitter Unicorn

The unicorn is eclipsed by a Squirrel, however, who has managed to attract over 13.5k followers – being listed 660 times!

Twitter Squirrel

Twitter Squirrel

What about Facebook?

Facebook seems to be a great place to find oddly named “groups” for just about every possible “idea” under the sun, but a Danish pineapple has managed to get over 167k fans! Not to be outdone, Germany has a pretzel with over 379k !

And we shouldn’t forget that even cats, dogs and other pets are also finding a following on Facebook…

Why do I bring this up?

Well to start with it amused me, but also it puts things into perspective. A lot of people seem to be making a lot of money from businesses that want to “tap into” social media as part of their marketing. While there is nothing exactly “wrong” with that you’d have to wonder what kind of metrics they are using to sell their services to their clientele.

If a fruit or a pretzel can get  huge following on Facebook without it actually selling anything to anyone, how well can a “normal” business expect to do?

What is a measurement of their “success”?

The reality is that there probably isn’t a simple way to “measure” success. There are a lot of different factors that come into play.

But I digress..

Maybe the real “takeaway” from these rather silly examples is that they all share one thing in common – fun. They’re all frivolous fun. People use and interact with social media sites in their spare time, as well as during office hours. If you look at the kind of links people share, the pictures they post etc., you quickly realise that they don’t go to “social media” to buy or to be “sold to” or “marketed to”.

If you can instill some level of “fun” into your “presence” maybe you’ll find that you are actually more successful, though getting the balance right might not be that as easy for a business as it is for a fantasy animal.

Spontaneous Success Cannot Be Created

It may seem obvious, but you cannot force something to be spontaneous.
Spontaneous is that – spontaneous. It cannot be contrived or manipulated.
If you don’t believe me check the definition in any good dictionary.

Can you trust this man?

Can you trust this man?

Why is it that some “experts” believe that they can “cod” people (their clients and the media) into believing that they can manufacture spontaneity?

The most obvious example is any one of the multitude of “social media agencies” that have sprung up in the last year or so. While there is a need to help people engage more effectively online, making crazy promises cannot end well. Someone will get hurt.

A “viral” marketing campaign cannot be invented.

You can try to do something that will capture people’s imagination and interest. If you do it well and you are lucky, then maybe, just maybe, you will reach the “Holy Grail” and it will go “viral”
But you cannot guarantee that people will be interested enough for that to happen.

Everyone wants their product or success to become a massive success. We’d all love to become overnight successes, make our fortunes and be able to relax on a tropical island, wouldn’t we?

UPDATE: An interesting related post worth reading

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Snake Oil Vendors – We Really Don’t Love You

Professional Prism of Trust from David Armano

Professional Prism of Trust from David Armano

I’m sick of “experts”.

I’m sick of people claiming that they know more about a subject than anyone else when it’s pretty damn obvious that they’ve missed the basics

I’m tired of people selling solutions that they obviously don’t believe in.

So I really really like this graphic which illustrates how much we, the public, trust people on a scale

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Whether it’s Twitter, Facebook or simply a blog people sometimes forget that their audience is fickle.

If you spend too much time and energy “planning” and making grandiose promises of “things to come” will anyone really care or notice?

With Facebook “pages” there is little to be gained from putting up a “holding page” – you can simply choose not to make your page public, so you can tweak settings and layout privately.

With Twitter, however, it’s not that evident. Granted, you could choose to “protect” your updates, but you wouldn’t be able to hide your profile page and if you plan on using Twitter for your business “protection” may seem odd.

There has been plenty written about what Twitter is and isn’t, but ultimately if you don’t actually use it nobody will either notice or care.

Of course, conversely speaking, if you used it badly people would notice and probably criticise you …

However if your business’ Twitter status is frozen with a “coming soon” style tweet, then maybe you’ve really misunderstood the medium completely. A blank account would probably seem saner.

Just Because You Can Is Not An Excuse –’s Stupid Automated Twitter Messages

Whether it’s technology or life in general you’ll always run into people doing odd things. When you ask them why they did it they’ll simply reply:

“Because I could”

Just because you can do something doesn’t mean that it’s either a good idea or even advisable.

Take Twitter (again!)

Using a 3rd party service you can automate a lot of things. So when someone new follows your user you can send your new “fan” a message.

Unfortunately most people don’t know how to use this kind of service properly and end up simply abusing it.

Spammers send you affiliate links and general rubbish that you could live without.

What about

You’d think that a company of their size would have more sense, but they obviously still don’t “get” Twitter.

Their Twitter account sent me this useless rubbish at around 6am this morning a few hours after I “followed” them:
“Thanks for following we are always interested in Real stories from Real people passionate about Ireland – Why not share you views – Or visit the site for News, Sport, Gigs, Email, TV, Booking Hotels, etc”

Considering the amount of automated spammy messages I get my only reaction to this is – unfollow immediately. It leaves me wondering if have any semblance of a clue about how to use Twitter.

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How To (Ab)use Twitter

So you heard on the “grapevine” that lots of business were using Twitter to promote themselves. You read a couple of articles on well known sites or maybe in your favourite newspaper.

Armed with your new knowledge you signed up for a Twitter account.

30 seconds later you entered the fray.

You had a “Twitter page”! Success!

Now to start making money…

So you “followed” Scoble, cos he’s visible and then you followed another 1000 more Twitter users. Some of them even followed you back!

Now you had an audience!

Maybe you’d even read about using Twitter’s search tools, so you keyed in a few terms related to your business and found even more people to follow.

And now you start blasting your sales message at everyone.

Your product was amazing, so you simply had to tell everyone about it, so you kept shouting about it to all and sundry.

Days go by and you’re following more and more people, but nobody is following you back…

You had failed!


Let’s Play Buzzword Bingo

Do you ever read website copy and die a little inside?

Just because other people’s websites are full of meaningless “buzzwords” does not mean that yours has to be as well.

Sure. We all fall into the traps of using jargon instead of plain English from time to time, but the web 2.0 / social media guru types really take linguistic abuse to new levels.

You too can play the game.

Try this generator out for a bit of fun.

Now pick up a copy of your favourite business magazine or simply check out the company news section on most “web 2.0” sites. Anything look familiar?

Or how about the reinvention of language?

Ten years ago most people probably wouldn’t have associated the word “viral” with marketing. We’d have been thinking about physical ailments and infections. Along came “viral marketing” and the term took on a whole new meaning.

But wait! How can you “produce a viral” or “launch a viral”? Check the definition.

You can try to produce a “viral”, but you can’t guarantee that it will “go viral”, so why call it a “viral” in the first place?