Social Media Speculation: Why We Don’t Suggest ‘Twitter Suggestions’

By Monique Pouget

So you finally signed up for this “Twitter” thingy you’ve been hearing so much about on CNN, and now what?! Who do you follow? What do you Tweet about? Who’s going to care about what you have to say anyway? Relax. Twitter is a huge neighborhood with a niche community for everyone. Yes, it’s true that you shouldn’t only Tweet about what you had for breakfast (yeah, there’s a #hashtag for that), but don’t be afraid to share a blog post you found interesting or your thoughts about  the new restaurant on the corner. Keep in mind though, people don’t respond well to self-promotion. Instead of broadcasting your daily activities or your company’s special offers, make Twitter a place to build relationships with the people and profiles in your space.

In early 2009, Twitter launched Twitter Suggestions to facilitate activity on new profiles. According to founder Evan Williams, “The reason we created this feature is because lots of people sign up to Twitter but aren’t following anyone, so we’re trying to help get them started.” The last page of the sign up process automatically directs you to a list of 500 profiles you “might” be interested in, and allows you to follow all 500 with the check of 1 box.

At first glance, this seems like a great feature. Some of you might be thinking “Wow, now I can follow all of these great updates from Shaq, Starbucks, and look, even The White House is Tweeting these days!,” but this process seems to threaten the organic nature of Twitter. When Twitter first gained popularity, people starting following profiles they were interested in. So whether they were getting updates from a frustrated roommate or tweets about the best cable service provider deals, they were following these profiles because the Tweets were providing value. Does following these suggested profiles make people Tweet more? Probably not. Do the suggestions promote a give-and-take community approach? Nope. Are these profiles going to follow every Joe, Jim & Sally back and “ReTweet” their posts? Never.

Here are a few reasons Thunder SEO doesn’t suggest ‘Twitter Suggestions’ when implementing your Social Media Marketing Campaigns:

  • Paid Inclusion: Many of the “suggested” Twitter accounts are celebrities & large corporate organizations. There’s even rumors that many of these accounts have paid to be in the “suggestions” section so that they can increase their followers exponentially. Following people like @LennyKravitz, @ChelseaLately, @IAmDiddy, @TomCruise, @DerekFisher, @ParisHilton, @TodayShow, @Oprah, and @SnoopDogg are not going to help “put your name” out there, as these accounts are mostly run by agents & they usually won’t benefit your business or brand in any way.
  • Organic Growth: The best way to build up your Twitter profile is to do so legitimately. As mentioned in the Twitter for Business Guide, users should invest time & energy into building up their user base. This should be done slowly in order to gain credibility as a source of knowledge within the community. Simply stated, you should earn your followers. Having a  huge imbalance of profiles you follow and profiles that follow you back does not make “normal” Twitter users or businesses in the community want to follow you back. In fact, it looks spammy and most likely makes the Twitter users abandon your profile immediately.
  • Brand Congruence: Following these profiles doesn’t always fit in with a business’ positioning. Many times, associating your business with a large corporation or celebrity detracts from the company’s credibility. You should be very careful about the types of people you associate your brand with, and following the profiles mentioned previously runs the risk of associating your business with negative personalities. Following celebrities and corporations you have no relationship with should be reserved for personal account enjoyment.
  • Complicates Community: Twitter is a give-and-take community. You build relationships with other profiles by sharing their tweets with your followers. People often appreciate the sharing and amplification of their ideas, so ReTweeting interesting stuff is important & necessary. If you follow 500+ profiles, sifting through your Twitter feeds to find these valuable Tweets now becomes extremely difficult. This takes away from the fellowship nature of Twitter.

While “Twitter Suggestions” seem like a great way to get new Twitter users excited about the social network, they actually detract from the legitimacy of this closely-knit community. Twitter is a place where everyone should feel welcome, so just remember to connect with profiles in your niche, build positive relationships with the members of your community by spreading and ReTweeting their messages, and always provide messages of real value to your followers.

When in doubt, think about the Golden Rule of Twitter: Tweet unto others as you would have them Tweet to you!

Businesses are doing great things on Twitter. Here’s another great post about 10 Creative Ways Businesses Used Twitter in 2009.

Do you have any thoughts about Twitter Suggestions? Please let us know, we’d love to hear your feedback!!

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